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See3 Date

The Little Church in the Cornfield

My wife and I had the good fortune of spending a few days in the country. We were at a bed and breakfast literally in the midst of a corn, alfalfa and soy bean fields in rural Wisconsin.

We had an interaction with three nonprofits that I want to tell you about.

Thursday night we went to the American Players Theater in Spring Green Wisconsin, which by the way has this kick-ass general store. The theater is a first class outdoor ensemble theater. We saw Thorton Wilder’s The Matchmaker and it was a lot of fun. If you don’t know the play, it is about finding love, taking risks, and adventure. It is a laugh-out-loud comedy that is as timely today as it was when it was written. The cast, the direction and the set design were excellent.

What I noticed was how the theater did everything they could to make sure people had a good time. In their pre-theater picnic area, not only did they have dozens of picnic tables and plenty of room, they had gas grills parked next to each area. Next to the theater itself they had a bug spray station – it is outdoors after all and nothing would ruin your night out as much as getting eaten by mosquitoes. They sold interesting beers, had a wood carved structure that honored donors and fit the outdoor setting. All around well done.

Our next nonprofit interaction was at Taliesin. This is Frank Loyd Wright’s former home and a bunch of other buildings he built in rural Wisconsin, where he grew up. I was struck by two things. First, the cost of a two-hour tour was $45 per person. Wow! That’s like Disney prices. This just seemed like gouging before we went on the tour. Once on the tour we could see with our own eyes the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to restore the place, much of which they aren’t doing because they don’t have the money. So once we saw that, the price didn’t seem crazy. And they did have a 1-hour tour for $16. The second thing I noticed was that they said there were no accessible bathrooms during the tours. And they had 3-hour and 4-hour tours. Not a situation I would really enjoy being in. (I should make a t-shirt that says “I peed on Taliesin”)

The final nonprofit interaction was while we were at the B&B. The owners are involved in their church and they were building a new church building. What was interesting was listening to them talk about how the community was building it themselves. People were coming in from all over, for a day or two or longer, to help. This group is good at drywall, those folks will be working on the floors. That’s the kind of experience that can really bring a community together. (In my community it would be a bill for the building fund and the bonding experience would be complaining about it.) What a great thing to document and build into the fabric of their historical record. We can only hope they took a lot of pictures and shot some video.

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