COVID hit the San Francisco Bay Area and like all the other mom and pop shops, business life became a challenge. I have been explaining it by saying “it is akin to putting a well thought out business plan into a blender”. Trying to figure out the next step seems like being on a Japanese Game Show. I never know what giant red ball is going to be hurtled at me next. Navigating city and state ordinances has been a challenge to put it mildly. One day we think we can hold classes, only to find out two days later that we cannot. Then came the rioting in San Jose. I am in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, but I do not condone the violence that sometimes comes with mob mentality. As a business owner working hard to create something that I believe betters my neighborhood and community relationships, the riots threatened that and were an added layer of stress.
Oh, and then the little town of Ben Lomond, in the Santa Cruz Mountains wherein I live with my family, became an FBI hotspot when a police officer was shot and killed a few blocks from our house. Helicopters circled the house for two days in search of the accomplice. A good friend of mine asked me how I was doing a few days ago and I replied that despite what future is held for the business, I was in a good place with my house. Having purchased in 2011 our mortgage is pretty low. Worst case scenario is that I could get a minimum wage job and keep a roof over my family and food on the table. We recently redesigned our business ideas for the immediate future to include a series of outdoor classes and then yes, you guessed it, an unprecedented lighting storm hit the Bay area and a massive amount of wildfires sprung up. We evacuated our home and went down to Santa Cruz, and then Placerville with our little camper. The stress started to seem unreal as my little family became traveling vagabonds, still concerned with catching COVID of course.
And then the phone started ringing, and ringing. The community that Dana and I have been working so hard to create over the last six years was calling. Person after person, teachers, students, friends, studio renters kept calling and offering what they could to help us out in this time of need. But to be honest, this really isn’t new. Six years ago when the word got out that Dana and I were committed to building Visual Philosophy, people started offering help. Labor, money, tools that had been sitting unused, or supplies left in a closet. Anything people thought might help us along. In fact, it was a Kickstarter campaign that raised the original funds which payed for the permits to open the business at our original location on Auzerais Ave. (which of course we lost when the building was sold to a developer). Thank you to those who originally believed in us and invested in our crazy idea. In our time of need people have stepped up. Recently we raised funds with a GoFundMe campaign that has helped our studio renters that have lost income due to COVID. Thank you to all who have given so generously already. I would also truly be remiss not to publicly thank our new landlord as well. He has been extremely helpful during these difficult times, and if there’s one thing I don’t need right now it’s stress about losing another building. And so, to the entire community. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you.
We remain out of town due to the evacuations in the Santa Cruz mountains. So far it looks like we will have a home to return to, but we have many friends who are not as fortunate as us and our support and love will be offered in kind. Thank you to the many firefighters in our community for working above and beyond the call of duty, and to those who have come from out of the area to support us in this time of need. We anticipate not being able to return home for some time to come and our classes are once again postponed until further notice. To you, our students who keep checking back, thank you. And we appreciate your understanding as we navigate this particularly difficult schedule.
Sincerely, Yori Seeger