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There are many goals of Yaku,

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There are many goals of Yaku, some explicit, some implicit. Some are grounded in the brick and mortar and will produce tangible, long-term good, while others take more of an ephemeral form—pop-up,one night only events are  becoming a Yaku specialty. One goal that seems to reside in both realms is the Community Goal: a goal to create opportunities for people to be stewards of new life in Peoria.

This somewhat unspoken goal has been with Yaku since the beginning. There were initially three primary catalysts that paved the way for this endeavor: the building, a moving presence in itself, and its preservation needs; Art (a need for viscerally stirring and perspective-expanding experiences); and the local people. The two former catalysts grew to be the mission itself, while the latter remained present but unnoted. The Community Goal responds to two local phenomena: 1) A notable number of exciting, bright, and capable young people were leaving Peoria, not seeing the opportunities for themselves here; and 2) people grounded here with history or good work were not seeing the potential for this place or opportunities to participate and explore in all that exists beyond home and work.Yaku began with the belief that it could respond positively to both elements.

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It seems to be working.

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“the base of regular volunteers continues to grow.”

The group is diverse and innovative and more importantly, the group is taking ownership of the project and growing the organization from within. Several members of Yaku had future plans for leaving the city before they joined. It was said that they could work on a few projects but that their time was limited. For some, the departure dates and potential plans changed and before long the plans were dropped or postponed for the foreseeable future. People are staying and people are working—creating a future for themselves and the organization, building the city they want to live in.

Second, the crowds of people attending the events continue to grow ever more diverse and expansive. We often gauge the success of an event through informal surveys of organizers and attendees to solicit an emotional response and estimate the number of people. One criteria that has grown in significance is the “number of new faces” metric. It is easy to host an event and have all your friends come, but it is far more challenging to host an event and find a majority of strangers in attendance. The latest SNAX is another example of success within the Community Goal. While there were certainly the welcome crowds of familiar faces, there was an impressive swarm of new ones. The new faces bring with them novel curiosity and enthusiasm, and the events bring a refreshing and encouraging burst of energy.

See more photos from the article Taking Root by Earl Power Murphy in UKAYZINE VOL 01