Artist

Interview: Gar Mickelson, Kaleidoscope Community Services

I walk into 2nd Street Commons, a nondescript building in downtown Coeur d’Alene (CDA), Idaho, sandwiched between a dive bar and a closed gun shop. Once inside the first thing I realize is that I have no idea how to categorize the premises, though I try: a coffee shop without a coffee bar, a living room without a TV, a pub without the liquored smell of vomit, a church without a program. There is no schema that fits, and I love it.

People are simply scattered. They look weary, but comfortable, at ease, respite. Some folks relax on the couch while others bustle up and down hallways, in and out of the kitchen.

It is here where I meet Gar Mickelson. He wears a bright smile, gives a big hug, and introduces me to everyone. “This is my friend Kevin,” he says. And everyone I meet makes me feel like family. They, too, give hugs and handshakes.

Gar gives a tour of the facility. As we walk along I continue to meet people, a mix of volunteers and visitors. Some are cooking, cleaning, painting, hauling. The volunteers are passionate and dedicated. Because I am cynical this is all odd for me. I’m waiting for the hook, the agenda, the money making scheme, something to take me out of this fairy tale of genuine coexistence.

We walk into a new room, “Excuse the camping gear,” Gar says. “We’re holding that for someone who was forced to leave his camp site.”

“For free?” I ask. “You’re holding it for free?”

“That’s what we’re all about here, Kevin. ‘Come and be for free.'”

I really want to give Gar another hug, but that would be too weird. So instead, we head into his office, and I ask him a few questions about how Kaleidoscope Community Services started, when it started, and what the heck this place even is.

What is Kaleidoscope Community Services? What is 2nd Street Commons, and how long has the CDA location been established?

Kaleidoscope Community Services is a private, faith-based non-profit corporation based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. KCS exists to bridge the gap between community needs and community resources, and we do this in a variety of ways.

KCS opened the 2nd Street Commons at the end of January, 2014. Since that time we’ve had over 100 volunteers from 10 different churches, served almost 500 gallons of coffee, served almost 1000 meals, and have gone through approximately 6 miles of toilet paper…  (more…)

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5 Lessons for the Workshop Writer

Now, my darlings, a quick lesson on workshopping. Every writer must seek feedback on his or her work. It’s imperative. Thirty minutes in a workshop table can fuel you for an entire week. Don’t accept the adage of “All work and no play make Johnny a dull boy,”—a writer by himself going crazy from the lonely craft. Writing is, or should be, a team effort.

Last semester I had a playwright workshop course; currently, I’m in a short story workshop. Because I’m nice, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. You’re welcome, America (and possibly Croatia).

Fair Warning: This blog post was not workshopped. I know, I know.

Here’s my top 5 lessons from the workshop table.

1) Prepare for the worst. Sorry, but your first draft wasn’t perfect. Embrace what’s coming. Get into the habit of looking forward to the edits. (Edits are your friends. They take you to new places and introduce you to new things.)  (more…)

Eat, Sleep, Repeat

There’s this album I used to listen to named Eat, Sleep, Repeat. It’s a downer record, for sure, as you can imagine by the title. Lyrically, it explores the cyclicality of life and also the meaninglessness of it.

(I was emo when this came out so BACK OFF!)

The thought of a single human-life being summed up by the words

“Eat

Sleep

Repeat”

can kind of be frightening.

Life can be like that though, so cyclical it often feels purposeless.

Eat, Sleep, Dance!

I’ve realized since the album’s release that the singer (or character of lyrics, maybe) wasn’t condemning routine; he was just down. He was in a valley. He was also an artist.

(Foolish, I feel now, after adopting his outlook as doctrine).

Artists tend to overanalyze life (or under-analyze life) into whatever they want it to be. If they want to be stuck in a hamster wheel, they will build themselves a hamster wheel or color the world as such. There’s an obvious temper of youth which cloaks the music and message; it’s crazy what you identify yourself with when you’re a kid.

I’ve since discovered that life is naturally cyclical, and that’s alright. We can have good days and bad, good years and bad. Many of us see the big picture and can sail steady through it all. I look back at myself and wonder why I couldn’t. I was hyper-responsive, I guess, the type to get stuck in valleys and curse them only to later summit peaks and praise them, all the while missing meaning, missing the purpose of creation, missing consistency.

How are you holding up these days?

One day, I want to write and record another album. I think I’ll title it

Eat. Coffee. Poop. Netflix. Work. Eat. Blog. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. 

And it’s going to be a happy record, one that sees the good in the bad, one that can sail. “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” Yes. Yes, I think so.

Departing Queries:

  1. Are there any outdated doctrines from your youth that you’re still holding on to?
  2. Do you focus on what is true and noble, or are you living only in response to the temporary?
  3. What are the routines in your life that color your identity, make you who you are?

Copeland_-_Eat,_Sleep,_RepeatP.S. I still really like this album.