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Thursday, May 15, 2003 02:20 pm

Still the Space

Marc Sanson struggles to keep an idea alive

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Marc Sanson
Nick Steinkamp

If struggle is a great teacher, Marc Sanson has already learned its lessons well. Every month when the rent comes due on the tiny white house at 830 S. College dubbed "the Space," Sanson seems to be counting his pennies. Yet just when he considers declaring a public state of emergency, the money miraculously comes from somewhere at the last minute.

The Space began about a year ago as a project of the Springfield Community Network to house a collection of nonprofit groups, including the Heartland Peace Center, the Springfield Green Party, and the Springfield Independent Media Center. When the Illinois Green Party gathered last month in Bloomington, Sanson broke down and made a case for the Space. Illinois Greens came up with the necessary cash to meet this month's expenses, in part to keep a home in the state capital. It takes $650 per month to pay the Space's rent and utilities. Now Sanson only has to worry about next month.

"I have certainly committed a large portion of my limited income over the last year to keeping it going," says Sanson, a computer consultant and former Green Party candidate. "But several other people have really stepped forward financially, and by and far the Heartland Peace Center is the single biggest reason the Space is still around."

Heartland's history spans 13 years, and most Springfield residents are far more familiar with that group's name than they are with the Space itself. "Heartland has been a solid contributor since day one," says Sanson, a member of Heartland's board. Unfortunately some people think that since the close of the Heartland's Peace Store on Wabash Avenue the organization has passed on. "Many people identified it with that store and of course losing it was a significant change," says Sanson. "Returning to an all-volunteer organization and losing the store means we don't have the visible presence we once had."

But the Space "is much more important than any one organization within it," says Sanson. Keeping it open may still be a struggle, but its mission has become more important in these tough economic times. "The Space is an idea and a spirit that many people have caught on to," Sanson says. "There are many core people who truly love the place and will do anything for it; there are a lot of other people who really enjoy it and have great hopes that it continues. We just need to get the word out to the rest of the people who I hope will take the opportunity to take care of the place and do what they can for it. There are a lot of groups that are active and are doing things and have a solid agenda partly because they have had the resources of the Space to draw upon."

To help out or to get more information on events at the Space, call 528-2457.

Also from Ted Keylon

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