Westbeth feels like a ghost town
MARCH 14, 2020
BY KATE WALTER |
The community room is closed. The gallery is dark. The spring flea market has been postponed. The community room and the gallery are the heart and soul of Westbeth Artists Housing. Everyone looks forward to shopping at the busy flea market in the basement.
The main lobby, normally bustling with activity and conversation, is somber. Management recently issued a memo that residents should only use the lobby for essential activities — no hanging out. I really feel bad for the seniors with mobility issues who use the lobby as a place to sit on a bench and socialize. Thankfully, it will get warm soon and they will be able to go outside into the courtyard. Westbeth is a NORC, a naturally occurring retirement community, with many senior citizens in their 70s and 80s.
It’s hard to believe that only two weeks ago I gave a reading with three other writers in the community room. About 50 people were in attendance and later we talked about the work and drank champagne. I read the first chapter of a novel in progress and everyone told me they wanted to know what would happen next. The feedback was super-encouraging. Just what I needed. It was the kind of interaction that makes Westbeth a great place for artists to live.
I’ve been a resident here since 1997. One of the best things about this complex is all the free and inexpensive activities that take place in the community room — classes, readings, concerts, puppet shows for the kids, under the auspices of the Westbeth Artists Residents Council. I often write in my gratitude journal, “I’m grateful to live in Westbeth.”
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