Thursday, November 6, 2008

Help Keep Minneapolis Queer/Lesbian Bar Alive!


This is a personal note from the owner of Pi Bar, Tara Yule:

I have been overwhelmed by the response from our community to the news that Pi is closing. People have expressed their desire to come together to raise money toward the effort to retain this space for the community which it has served. Only weeks ago, the financial challenge seemed insurmountable. However, a significant amount of money has already been raised in an effort to save Pi’s building. In addition, other parties have emerged with potential, alternative, creative financing ideas that could bridge the shortfall if enough money is raised. Joni Thome is a good friend of mine and definitely Pi family. She’s a mom, a lawyer, a long time activist, and a great, caring person. She is one of the many people that have come forward to organize this endeavor. What she has to say sums up the sentiment of many that have come to me. Our ultimate goal is to preserve this space for the service of the community that it has worked to bring together and come to love. I invite you to read her words and consider the offer.

Here’s Joni’s letter:


Most of you have probably heard by now that the Pi Bar will have to close its doors effective November 15th. This is to let you know that this does not need to happen and that I believe, it should not happen. Here is what is going on:

The Pi Bar and Restaurant:
I like to go to Pi and here is why.
This is the only place I have ever been where the sign “everyone welcome” speaks the truth about the establishment. Many in our communities have worked long and hard to bring different communities of color, culture, age, class, sexual orientation and gender identity together in one place - in 30 years in this community I have only witnessed two venues achieve that goal - Twin Cities Pride and Pi. And, Pi has done it in under two years! This is more than a bar, it’s a place that is rich in potential and one that is destined to become a community landmark. Last night I watched and celebrated the election results with my Seward and Longfellow neighbors, several punks, a group of children, postal workers, teachers, stay at home parents, students, lawyers, bankers, city and county workers, people who just lost their jobs and houses and so on - I was at Pi and the true community spirit could not have been more intense. Then again, this night was not all that different from other evenings at Pi - whether for Dildo Dingo, a Kid Dance Party, a neighborhood wine tasting or for a fundraiser, the community spirit is present at this place. We cannot let this unique and necessary space get away.

The Problem: Pi Bar owners, like any small business owners, had to take risks in their efforts to get the business started. One was to take the building on a contract for deed. That deed ballooned in September. Throughout the summer and in to the fall, Pi owners worked tirelessly in their efforts to obtain financing for the building. Obviously, this balloon came at a bad time in the life of US economy, we are not at our best. The building itself is valued over $600,000.00 and the current owner wants $600,000.00. If Pi cannot finance or raise that money by mid-month, it will take the necessary steps to ready the building to be retaken by the title owners. BUT, in the last week since Pi made it known that it would have to close, over $100,000.00 have been donated to the business.

The Solution: Make the building a community owned space - sort of like the Green Bay Packers. That is, private donors contribute dollars to bring the amount to be financed down to a manageable level or provide enough funds to purchase the building outright. Current Pi owner Tara Yule would then become the steward for the building. The Pi Bar and Restaurant would continue to operate consistent with its current philosophy and environment and, it would continue to be the space for fundraising and other events in our communities. The benefit to our communities and to each donor is not something that can be defined at this time. Management has tossed around ideas of VIP status and public recognition for contributions - contributions of $500.00 and more. I know that I will donate because I go to Pi because of what it has become and what it will continue to be in our community. We won’t have a chance like this again perhaps for a long, long time. You can become a proud “owner” of the Pi Bar and Community Center by sending all you can to:

Pi Bar
2532 25th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55406

In the unlikely event that not enough funds are raised to purchase the building, your check will not be cashed. If you want your check returned to you in this event, please send a note indicating the same along with the check.

Pass it on …

Joni M. Thome

Although I don't currently live in the Twin Cities, I know my friends treasure Pi and the space it provides. We need to keep places like this alive and well. We need to support this endeavor to symbolically counteract the devastating results of Prop 8 in California, to build community and tell the world that regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, class, religion or whatever else we imagine separates us, we are in this together and we support each other.

Save Pi. Save the World.

Right now they just have the mail-in donations, but I've asked about online contributions. I'll keep you up-to-date on any places where you can contribute.

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