B(east) Street Commune Runs Wild

Cassidy Hilburn
hilburnc@grinnell.edu

Top row: Sophie Neems, Eva Smith and Paulina Campbell  Bottom row: Phoebe Pinder, Toni Androski, Alethea Cook and Cassie Miller (all ’16) pose with some of their artistic creations. (Photo contributed)

Top row: Sophie Neems, Eva Smith and Paulina Campbell
Bottom row: Phoebe Pinder, Toni Androski, Alethea Cook and Cassie Miller (all ’16) pose with some of their artistic creations. (Photo contributed)

A visitor passing through Grinnell for the first time may do a double-take while passing 1007 East Street—a large house painted a different color on every side and adorned with polka dots.

The residents of this picturesque home, Phoebe Pinder, Cassie Miller, Toni Androski, Paulina Campbell, Alethea Cook, Sophie Neems, and Eva Smith, all ’16, are Beasts, members of the women’s cross country team. A minor exception is Smith, who plays soccer in the fall but participates in spring track with her housemates.

Fittingly, this home is labeled the Beast Street Commune.

“The cross country team is the Beasts, and back in the 60s, apparently, there used to be an East Street Commune,” Cook explained.

The Beasts began to get attached to the house their second year when it was the the senior cross country runners’ home.

“We have a lot of memories from this house from [that time],” Androski said.

“We essentially scoped it out our second year,” Pinder added.

Now as fourth year runners, their home facilitates their role as leaders of team get-togethers.

“We have a lot of cross country parties here,” Miller said.

Their dining room has a section that contains a stockpile of art supplies amassed from personal collections and stocks leftover from graduates. This cozy little arts and crafts corner is mainly utilized for team activities.

“We do things like bring all [our craft supplies] and go card-make with the team,” Cook said.

The colorful and quirky external theme of the home is also reflected on the inside, with décor including a chalk drawing of a skeleton horse, a huge wood cutout of an ear of corn and colorful posters and flags throughout. Everything about 1007 East Street seems to sparkle—which can be attributed to some of their art supplies.

“There is a layer of glitter everywhere in this house,” Miller laughed. “We like to sparkle.”
Practices and races for cross country only give the housemates a similar schedule on the weekends, and they are all busy with personal activities on weekdays.

“All of us do a lot of different things, and our schedules overlap surprisingly rarely for all that we’re on the same time,” Campbell said.
As for most mealtimes, it can get crazy due to seven people milling around the kitchen preparing each of their own food.

“Although it’s not that different from the chaos at noon in dining hall —except we know each other … we’re not as afraid to bump into one another every now and then,” Miller said.

Despite their hectic schedules, the Beasts of 1007 make sure to find time to coordinate a dinner together once a week. Two of them will do the cooking and make sure to have vegetarian options every time. The cuisines vary greatly. For instance, Miller, who is from New Mexico, prepares dishes such as tortillas from family recipes.

Some of the vegetables for the meals come from the small garden on the side of their house.

“[Having the garden here] is awesome, just having fresh veggies you can pick is great in general because it keeps us good about eating them,” Cook said.

For this band of Beasts, their abode represents what Campbell calls a “free-spirited” aesthetic, which adds on to the homey atmosphere.

“We like our glitter, we like our colors, we like a mixture of aesthetics and just loving each other. That’s our house, that’s our collective,” Miller said.