Hope in a time of difficulty

When he looks at The Brick House, Whit Forrester, 24, a volunteer bike mechanic, past board member and paid organizer for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, sees only opportunity.

“According to consensus, we are tied to the space,” he says. “The problem with that is that the space is amazing. It’s kind of a rare gem. Friends of mine from New York — the only thing they know about in Louisville is that The Brick House is there.”

Conflicting personalities are playing a role in perpetuating the difficulties of The Brick House, Forrester says, but that’s part of what makes the challenge of working in a collective so appealing.

“There’s a lot of different priorities in the building, and we’re in the learning process of what is a consensus-building model,” he says. 

Does the board have the time to master that model and stay alive?

“Honestly I don’t think The Brick House is going to shut down,” he says. “People come out of the cracks who are extraordinarily passionate about it. Sometimes it’s like, ‘Where the hell were you for the last six months?’ ‘It doesn’t matter, here’s $700.’ Or sometimes it’s folks on the board: ‘I just sold 30 of my prized possessions; we can pay our rent this month.’”

PHOTO BY MARTYPEARL.COM: Whit Forrester shows off the stockpile of bike parts in the center’s baement.

PHOTO BY MARTYPEARL.COM: Whit Forrester shows off the stockpile of bike parts in the center’s baement.

The wealth of ideal volunteers is dwindling thanks to relocation, Forrester says. “A lot of the folks that do stuff in town move to Portland, move to Seattle or move to New York, and look to Louisville as a place that had potential that it didn’t realize. We stick it out because we believe it has a lot of potential, and eventually, it becomes something very organic.” —MH