“Ray, what you got to do is go climb a mountain…“
―Jack Kerouac, Dharma Bums
On behalf of the Kerouac Project of Orlando, Inc. Board of Directors, I would like to wish you a happy and safe New Year. It’s great to have 2020 behind us. What a year of surprises/turmoil/course corrections it has been. We’re grateful to be able to report that the Kerouac Project remains on solid ground. We had to cancel the summer and fall 2020 residencies due to Covid-19 concerns (both ours and those of the scheduled residents). But on December 1 we welcomed Gwen Mullins to the Kerouac House as our Winter 2020–21 writer-in-residence.
As the Coronavirus pandemic has persisted, many nonprofit organizations have struggled financially. Due to the fact we have an all-volunteer board of directors, dedicated helpers, and no debt, we’ve been able to weather the storm, actually increasing by a modest amount funds in our bank to cover day-to-day operations. With the arrival of 2021, as an organization we’re planning our next financial move. The Kerouac House located on the corner of Clouser Avenue and Shady Lane Drive in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando is 100 years old. It was originally constructed quickly and was only expected to last half the time it has. Given this, the Board of Directors has committed to “go climb” its own mountain (see quote above), and that is readying the Kerouac House for the next 100 years.
Given its age, the biggest issue we must deal with are the foundations upon which the house sits. The back of the place, where Jack Kerouac and his mom lived, along with the kitchen and dining room are slumping as the foundations slowly sink into the sandy soil beneath the house. This has been a slow process, but now the floor in the back of the house slopes on a three-degree angle. To replace the sinking foundations and carry out restoration and repair work inside the house once it is leveled, we need to raise a minimum of $150,000. That’s a sizable mountain to climb, but we can do it together. Over the next few issues of our monthly newsletter, we’ll be giving specific details regarding this project and how you can help us get to the top of the mountain. But if you would like to help us get a “head start” on our fundraising, please donate at our website, KerouacProject.org.
In the meantime, please spread the word that we are currently accepting residency application/submissions for 2021–2022 residencies. The submission period closes on Sunday, March 21, 2021. You can get more information on this at the “Apply” page on our website.
I also invite you to join Gwen Mullens at the Kerouac House on Saturday, February 13, 2021, where she will deliver a public reading of her work. You will soon find more information on this on the “Events” page of our website and on our Facebook page. You can also find a picture and short bio on of Gwen on our website homepage.
2021 is going to be a great year for the Kerouac Project of Orlando as we begin to ready the Kerouac House for the next 100 years. We believe future generations of Jack Kerouac fans and creative writers from around the world will be thankful we fully embraced this challenge.
Climb this mountain with us as we ready Jack’s House for another century of inspiration!
President, Kerouac Project of Orlando, Inc.