In August 2006, Master Architect, Carpenter, Artist, and Sockologist Extraordinaire, Maya, and Artist, Carpenter, andDirector of Creative Imagination, Willow Good, took on the project of transforming Elsewhere physically and energetically into a creative and functioning asset for the community. The first year and a half of renovation was intense and theatrical. Maya was known to tap dance and clap while doing carpentry, while Willow was teaching on-site art classes to teens, and Willow’s daughter, Riven, was often seen dressed up as a gypsy princess parading her 7 kittens around the dusty floors. The little family lived in a renovated school bus in the yard, and a number of friends/work traders occupied one room or another inside the house during construction. The building was gutted and reestablished with new windows, insulation, electric and plumbing as well as extensive structural support and a new roof. This was done with the amazing support of the community, work traders, friends, elemental beings, angels and a ton of used construction materials. Loans, $, workers, materials, time, and know-how seem to continue to appear out of the ethers - because we are supposed to be here in this moment....
In 2014, we decided to become a nonprofit to help us move towards sustainability, and to be able to diversify our funding through tax deductible donations and grants from public and private sources. In February, we formed a board and registered with the state of Colorado as a nonprofit corporation. In April, we joined forces with The Coyote School, an existing 501(c)(3), merging the two organizations. We are now officially operating as The Coyote School DBA Elsewhere Studios. Go to “Board of Directors” to learn more about our spectacular board members!
The CommUnity Garden was born as a collaboration between Elsewhere and the Paonia Gorilla Gardeners, who needed a space to pop off. Elsewhere's newly acquired adjacent land lot was the perfect spot even though it had been used as a parking lot in years past and needed a lot of love and less gravel. The Gorillas received a $5000 grant from the Colorado Farm Development Initiative to start a free educational, biodynamic, community garden on that site! It is still growing more diverse and abundant, with hugelkulture, a hydro powered watering system, and a permaculture food forest.
Lauren Ziccardi, a former elsewhere intern and resident, moved to Paonia permanently and was inspired by the Village Building Convergence in Portland Oregon, to organize one here in Paonia. The spot chosen was the Elsewhere Alley-scape to create a community Art Wall. Over 100 community members of all ages participated: teaching, organizing, fundraising, and building the wall though hands-on workshops and LOVE. Maya took on the lead building position, and Willow the Design team, which meant that they, along with a handfull of crazy awesome workers, were there all summer finishing the project...
Elsewhere has been an energetic center of Paonia since its birth in 1906 as the town's General Electric building. Electricity was generated by a water wheel in the Paonia irrigation ditch, which cuts through town and flows through Elsewhere’s enchanted forest in the summer months. Since then, the building has provided a home, office spaces, and a creative pallet for numerous dreamers, attracting visionaries often without the necessary funds or know-how to restore the building into functionality. The building had been under construction, or vacant and inhabited by squatters, for decades before its metamorphosis into Elsewhere Studios. Elsewhere is drenched with local history and myth. Legend has it that Terence McKenna, writer, philosopher, and a world renowned psychotropic shaman/guru who was born and raised in Paonia, spent time in the building in the 60’s, and opened a vortex in the basement. This natural energy source has been grounded to the center of the earth, and is the essence of Elsewhere as a three dimensional art piece in itself, providing inspiration and growth for the artists that reside here now.
Shortly after the first phase of construction was finished, Willow and Maya’s relationship shifted and Maya moved to California for a stint of pilates teacher training. Maya later returned to continue co-creating Elsewhere. We discovered Artist in Residency programs and fell in love with the idea; it became obvious that we were transforming this building for this inevitable purpose all along! Karen Good, Willow’s mother, moved to Paonia in the next year and became the key element in bringing this idea into fruition, benefiting from her expertise and experience running numerous organizations and her skills as teacher over the last few life times. Logan Woods-Darby added his technical magic in creating the Elsewhere Website and brochures. The Artist in Residency Program began in late 2010. We are open to emerging, mid career, and professional visual artists, musicians, performance artists, and writers.
Elsewhere is also grounding into its higher self: The Temple to the Muse. The Temple is becoming more defined and taking form as the first of her alter~shrines was activated on Winter Solstice. The alter is dedicated to Kali and will be coming into being this Spring in a more physical way. This will be one of many shrines on the property. We want to up the Angel count here in the states! (everyone knows that shrines make more angels), as well as to create as many places as possible to slow down enough to get in touch with our gratitude and reverence for life.
Elsewhere continues to be woven into being by an amazing group of dreamers. Karen is now Executive Director, focusing on fundraising and development. Daniel Fonken, a former Elsewhere resident, has stepped in as Residency Manager taking care of the daily nuts and bolts that keep the Elsewhere engine running smoothly. Willow now serves on the Board, and Maya and Willow continue to add to the novelty and creative direction of Elsewhere. AND we continue to be blessed by a community of supportive and helpful angel/volunteers!