San Francisco's Eagle and Tales of the Lonesome Pine

When I first went online seeking tales of treasured community businesses or non-profits, I didn’t find the archive I was seeking but I did hear a couple of interesting stories.

One of my correspondents reported from San Francisco, where I lived for many years. He told me of ongoing efforts to save the Eagle Tavern, a 30-year-old gay bar of significance to the local LGBT community. The Eagle’s impending demise apparently boiled down to dollars and cents, in a city where gentrification and rising rents have been problems for years. Preservationists worked through social media and more-traditional organizing tools to rouse community members and sympathetic public officials. Their efforts opened a path for new buyers, who seemed able to whether the costs and insisted they'd preserve the bar’s historic community role. Today, the Eagle lives on. From my outsiders's perspective, however, I'm uncertain whether the result is satisfactory to those who rose initially to the bar's defense. Sometimes, change means that some see preservation, while others see destruction. I'll try to learn more about the Eagle.

From southwest Virginia, near the USA’s other coast, I heard from Wendy Welch. Wendy and her husband, Jack, are the founding proprietors of Tales of the Lonesome Pine Used Books. Her own book, The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, documents their successful struggle to make their store a good and valued local citizen, in the face of the commercial challenges facing all bookstores. Her book’s subtitle sums up her story as well as any few words can: “a memoir of friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book.” You can find Wendy and her wonderful book right here.