Finding out the fledgling nonprofit you run may soon be out of a home isn't the best birthday present, but it's what Boise Hive Executive Director Juta Geurtsen got on Sept. 25, her special day. Rather than throw up her hands in defeat, she had a tiny tattoo inked on her wrist—"00:00:01," referencing the countdown leading to Boise Hive's possible eviction and a reminder to stay hopeful until the last second.
"We expected it, then we didn't," Geurtsen said. "When it did happen, it happened very fast."
Boise Hive (boisehive.org), which opened its doors in Nov. 2014 and provides low-cost rehearsal space and mental health services for musicians, leases the building it's in at 3907 Custer Drive and was put on notice after a prospective buyer offered $210,000 in cash to purchase the building and convert it into a warehouse. Boise Hive had 15 days to meet the offer or vacate.
On Oct. 8, the day before the money was needed to trump the cash offer, Boise Hive had raised about $29,000 through GoFundMe—less than half the $75,000 it was aiming for, which could be used to leverage bridge funding from investors. The situation seemed dire, but when Geurtsen got onstage during Boise Hive's fundraising concert Oct. 8, it was to deliver a surprising announcement.
"The GoFundMe campaign gave us the ability to put an offer on this building, securing it for another 30 days," she told the crowd, which responded with cheers."It really started coming together today." In other words, at the last second.
Geurtsen squeezed the update between performances by local bands Bread & Circus, Lounge on Fire and Sun Blood Stories; Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services' house band; and Portland, Ore.-based band The Ghost Ease. They played under a lingering pink and purple sunset in hopes of helping Boise Hive stay put.
Geurtsen said her organization gets first right of refusal on the space, and putting down an offer knocks the other offer off the table, giving the organization 30 days to raise the full $210,000. Instead, she's hopeful an investor may buy the building and lease it back.
"Nothing's official until it's on paper," she told Boise Weekly, "but we're pretty confident we found someone willing to do that."
The building housed Custom Recording and Sound for more than three decades but was put on the market after Custom Recording co-owner Paul Franklin died last year.
"Paul was the brains," said Sylissa Franklin, who, with her late-husband, owned both the business and the building. "After we closed the business, I had no more use for the building."
Franklin put the building up for sale around the same time she was approached by Boise Hive, whose founders deemed it the perfect place since it was already soundproofed and equipped with recording studios. Recreating a similar setup elsewhere would be financially impossible for the nonprofit. Jodi Peterson, a volunteer with Boise Hive, said the people running the nonprofit didn't even want to think about having to move.
"We don't want to think that far in advance because we know this is where we should be," Peterson said. "To do what we have right now in another building is going to cost a lot of money, and we're going to lose traction."
Peterson remained hopeful throughout the fundraising campaign.
"Positive thinking," she said. "Won't it be a great story two weeks from now when we will have done it?"
After she delivered the news to the audience at Thursday's fundraising event, Geurtsen invited Johnny Hill to the stage. He sat on a barstool in front of the mic, a guitar on his knee, and a ball cap bearing the words "Vietnam Veteran" on his head. Hill runs a guitar program through the V.A., and he hosts a free veteran music jam every Friday night at Boise Hive.
He spent every day of the past few weeks at Boise Hive, doing whatever he could to help out. He wrote a song about saving Boise Hive, which he sang while reading the lyrics by flashlight.
"Can you lend a helping hand/ Can you help us save her," he sang. "Let her be."
Hill, an Idaho native, spent three years on the U.S.S. Chipola, a U.S. Navy oil ship, off the coast of Vietnam. After he returned, Hill battled alcoholism until he went to Boise State University with the help of the Idaho Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and earned a degree in social work. He used his experience to become a drug and alcohol counselor at Port of Hope and the Saint Alphonsus addiction recovery center. He still does some peer-to-peer counseling on the side with young vets and teaches them to play guitar. He likes blues and country western music the most. Hill told Boise Weekly about the way he has seen music help veterans through the aftermath of war.
"Playing music has a double purpose for vets," Hill said. "It allows us to keep meeting each other, and it allows us to be creative, to play our emotions out. We discovered it's a good stress receiver and it helps people who have trouble sleeping. It gives an outlet. ... This place has become important to us."
Nothing is for sure on the fate of Boise Hive, but Geurtsen and her team are committed to navigating the legal paperwork and continuing the fundraising necessary to keep the doors open.
"We got a donation for $10,000 from some retirees who just moved to Boise and saw us on the news," she said. "People understand that the art and music scene here is important. ... I'm exhausted, but I'm so excited for the future of this place."