The Resource Center for Nonviolence gets more elbow room in new seaside location
Car horns honked in support as a procession of about 30 people marched from 515 Broadway to 612 Ocean Street on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The march symbolized the Resource Center for Nonviolence’s (RCNV) move from its home of 35 years to its new, more accessible location only blocks away.
“We got probably 30 or 40 email messages from people congratulating us on the move,” says Scott Kennedy, who has been with the RCNV since its 1976 founding, when a group of activists from Isla Vista, Calif. decided to build a center for nonviolence. “We came to the conviction that there was great value in establishing a physical place in the community that people could come to rely on.”
Kennedy says that during times of crisis, the RCNV’s role switches from low key and quiet to a vital place on which people come to count. For example, during the Gulf War, the RCNV trained more than 300 draft councilors. The RCNV has also been especially active in the antinuclear movement.
One of the emails the RCNV received regarding their move came from Mairead Maguire, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work with the Irish Peace People.
Maguire’s email states, “May I offer you all my congratulations and best wishes on the wonderful news of the opening of the new Resource Center for Nonviolence, in Santa Cruz. It looks a beautiful Centre but the best resources are the group of wonderful happy-looking activists taken outside their new home for nonviolence.”
Kennedy says McGuire’s email makes an essential point.
“Buildings are important and this is a really big change and improvement for the center, but the most important thing is the people,” says Kennedy. “A building is just a tool or avenue for us that hopefully will help support and sustain people’s work.”
One tool the new building will provide is a 200-seat meeting room, which will allow the RCNV to host guest speakers in-house. The new property’s 37 parking spaces will provide more accessibility to the center.
Although the RCNV closed escrow on the new building and symbolically moved in October, the former location will continue to operate through the end of the year as the center gradually shifts locations.
“We’ve been her for 35 years and we’re aware of a lot of the limitations of this building, including the fact that it’s an old building and how much time and effort goes into repair,” says Kennedy.
After years of assessing its options in town, the RCNV closed escrow on the former Christian Science Church and Reading Room building, which has been vacant for two years.
The move was made possible in part by a $500,000 donation from an anonymous supporter, which enabled the majority of the $650,000 down payment. This donor wishes to remain anonymous.
“Some people just ask point blank who it is,” says Kennedy. “I can say it’s a person who has been active with the Resource Center since 1976, has been a supporter of the center for 35 years, and lives in Santa Cruz.”
The RCNV has no debt outstanding at 515 Broadway St., so they do not have to move immediately. Kennedy says they plan to completely relocate by the end of the year.
The Church of Christian Science will help carry the first mortgage on the building of $1.4 million.
“We put down $650,000 cash, and they’re carrying the first mortgage for $750,000,” says Kennedy. “That’s due and payable [by the RCNV] after 10 years. We have a very detailed and well thought out budget for the 10 years. That doesn’t address anything about our current staff or program, it’s just saying what it’s going to cost for us to be there for the next ten years.”
The staff of the RCNV anticipates a $400,000 to $500,000 shortfall for the 10-year period. In the past, the RCNV has not had to fundraise supplementary to donations, however Kennedy says in the next couple of years the organization will increase fundraising efforts.
Kennedy calls the relocation a “kick in the ass” for the RCNV, and says it has helped prompt the organization to look into its future.
“The steering committee and staff are going through a process to really reexamine the work that we do and how we do it,” he says. “We’ve been here for three decades and this is a chance to reinvent or regenerate the [RCNV]. We are very aware that we need to set the stage if not pass the ball to the next generation of activists.”
To contact the Resource Center for Nonviolence, visit RCNV.org or call 423-1626. Photo: mattfitt.com