Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Interview with Kim Maier, Executive Director of the OSH, continued...

Here is the second half of the interview with Kim Maier, started last Wednesday.

AAF: You’ve been widely credited with reviving the park’s relevance in the community—what animated that, and what are the challenges of running a nonprofit?

Maier: I'm typical of many Brooklynites, in that I'd lived in the neighborhood for 15 years and had no idea that the Old Stone House had this incredible story. In 2004, I was the co-president of the MS 51 PTA and we were invited to the House to learn more about their education programs. I started asking questions about programming and funding and the park, and suddenly found myself with a job. It was the perfect intersection of my interests, neighborhood development and an institution waiting to be discovered. I see the park and the House as a town square, or a kind of cultural campus, where people meet and share ideas and experiences, making the kind of human connections that people don't typically think of as being part of an urban lifestyle.

The Old Stone House is an independent not-for-profit organization, so we face the same challenges as others in our field. Our future is truly dependent on support from the community - financially, as volunteers and as audience members. Every donation is meaningful - from the $3 suggested donation at the door to a $25 annual membership, to the income from event rentals, to the larger individual, city, state and foundation grants that fund things like our education program. Perhaps the biggest challenge is finding ways for busy people to take an active role in their park, and for us to develop programming that is interesting and engaging enough that people will choose to be here at the Old Stone.

AFF: So what is the next big event on the horizon?

Maier: Next up is a contra dance with live music and a caller on December 4 at 8 pm, which is a fundraiser for OSH. $45 for some wonderful dancing, food and drink. The Park Slope 5th Avenue BID tree lighting is on December 5 at 5 pm, and our annual holiday concerts with the Brooklyn Brandenburgers are on December 12 at 8 pm, and December 13 at 2 pm. There's always something going on - be sure to check our website,

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