River’s edge

Diane Rugg

Photo By David Robert

The River School, that idyllic little hub of creativity and sustainable living along the Truckee River, is facing financial straits (see Cover Story, June 28). Diane Rugg, who teaches dance there, is trying to get a group together to save it. If you’re interested in helping, contact her at 329-6902 or dianerugg@sbcglobal.net. For more information about the school, visit www.riverschool.info.

For those who don’t know, what is the River School?

The River School is a venue for educators, artists, organic and sustainable gardeners and people who are interested in sustainable practices, creative work and community building. It was originally designed to be a school that offered educational services and information-sharing with those specific issues in mind—sustainability, creativity and conscious-community building.

How long has it been around?

About two years.

How is it being threatened now?

It hasn’t been able to become self-sustaining, financially. There are a couple factors: It could be because people aren’t familiar with it. There’s a lot of competition in town. I just think—I believe it can work. It hasn’t been financially self-sustaining, so it will be rented out and disappear. The owner—this is Tom Stille—is having some financial issues, and he’s no longer able to float the school. And he was doing that because he has a vision. It was his vision. He is a visionary, and he’s also very busy because he has another business, Interpretive Gardens, which is taking up all his time. … He’ll have to rent it out to someone completely different, and it will no longer be available as a school, as a creative venue.

What was your idea then?

My idea was to gather a group of people who are interested in those issues to see if it would be possible to form a collective … so that Reno can retain this venue because it’s very unusual. It’s right there on the river. It has beautiful grounds. It incorporates nature, organic and sustainable processes and creativity. It has a beautiful energy. There’s nothing else like it in town, and it would be a shame for Reno to lose this unique place.

So, basically, you’re hoping the collective will pay the rent to keep it going.

Right. I have a lot of interested people. We also need people interested in teaching classes, doing creative performances, having an art gallery with locally produced work. And I’m hoping this collective of people will commit to paying the rent and keeping it open.

What do you do there?

I’m a dance and movement educator. I’m a pilates practitioner. I teach dance composition and creative movement at TMCC. I’ve been a local choreographer and dance educator in Reno for 30 years. I also work at Rancho San Rafael as a gardener, so I’m very interested in organic gardening and sustainability, as well, and supporting local businesses and local agriculture. I feel it’s a really, really nice venue for intimate performances—for small intimate performing arts events. There’s a really nice one that’s going to happen in July with Martina Young for part of the Artown schedule. We’re doing it, in part, to show what a beautiful venue the River School can be and is. … Martina is a local dance artist and scholar.

There’s also a gardening and sculpture thing going there this month, right?

Yeah, and there’s also going to be a reggae evening at the River School. … They also do weddings there. It’s a beautiful place for a wedding.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Only that this kind of place existing in Reno is one of the things that will set Reno apart from other communities. It would truly be a detriment to this community in terms of all of those things—art, education, environmental awareness—to lose that place.