Annual Membership Party | Saturday, January 31, 2015

Membership has its privileges! To reward our loyal members for their dedicated support, we’re throwing our annual party. This event is FREE for members and you may join or renew at the door.

Come out early to mingle with friends, and stay late to dance! This event is a pot-luck. Members should bring a savory (Last name A-K) or sweet (L-Z) dish no later than 6:30 p.m.

6:00 Doors and bar open (come early to renew your membership!)
6:30 Pot-luck begins (bring your own plate and utensils!)
8:00 Dance to the best hits from 1982 to 2015


Since many of our members were not here at the beginning, it would seem to be a good time to review a little bit of history about the founding of the Cultural Center.

In 1972, the Cherokee Cooperative was formed by a group of local residents to serve the cultural and educational needs of the San Juan Ridge. The Cooperative also assisted in the organization of a volunteers program during the construction of the original Oak Tree School campus in the mid-1970s.

When the North Columbia Schoolhouse finally ceased operating as an actual school, Mary Joan Campbell approached two local architects, Bruce Boyd and Jeff Gold, about renting the building, and they led the effort to renovate the schoolhouse for its continuing use as a community center. In October 1979 the Cherokee Cooperative incorporated as Cherokee Labor Brigade Inc. and then successfully acquired 501(c)3 non-profit status in 1981 as it began to work on the renovation of the Schoolhouse as a cultural center. In February 1982, the Cherokee Labor Brigade officially amended its name to “North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center”. This is why we show “1982” on our logo even though the organization technically started earlier than that.

Following the initial rental agreement that allowed renovations on the North Columbia Schoolhouse to begin, in September 1983 Mary Joan Campbell signed the recently completed 30-year lease with the Cultural Center. This lease allowed the Cultural Center to access funding from the Cowell Foundation for the construction of the addition where the bathrooms and back studio now are.

The Cultural Center also received funding from the Skaggs Foundation to help create the Folk Life Festival and the first Sierra Storytelling Festival in 1985. Next year, the Sierra Storytelling Festival will realize its 30th year (after taking just one year off along the way).

To celebrate this history, and the 140th anniversary of the North Columbia Schoolhouse (built in 1875), we have decided to be a bit playful with the vagaries of the founding date (and the fact that we missed our 30th) by calling next year our “33 1/3 Anniversary” with the “thirty-three” referring to our actual time as the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center and the “third” referring to the bits of time that preceded.

We will kick off this celebration at the Membership Party on Saturday, January 31, 2015, with a dance party featuring — you guessed it — vinyl records.

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