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    By Charles Wolford

    Jeanette Bahouth gestures around the new Portland headquarters of Young Authors Greenhouse, which has worked with kids on their writing skills since 2017. The front room is divided straight down the middle: one side has steel-gray baseboards, pipes bolted to the walls and a metallic table on which lies a sketch of an octopus in goggles, drawing itself with pens in each tentacle. The other side has a full-size hot air balloon basket (found on Craigslist in New York by a board member), battered suitcases that seem transported from a time of tweed and railcars, and stoppered glass bottles filled with an “Anti-Gravity Powder” that looks like brown sugar. The desk in the center of the room is half metal, half wood. Other standout elements include a periscope, a submarine-style door and portholes. Bahouth explains the fiction behind the Opposite Shop: “This store is owned by twins. They inherited this store from their parents but disagree about everything. One twin is very into flying of any kind — it’s the Airship Emporium. And over here, this twin is a little more scientific, and it’s an Underwater Sea Monster Supply Store.”

    The space opened in February, offering afterschool homework help and writing workshops. (Previously, YAG primarily worked with students at Olmsted Academy South, an all-girls middle school in south Louisville.) YAG co-founder Hannah Rose Neuhauser says that the official launch of the store, which is still coming together, will take place this fall.

    YAG uses the same nonprofit model as 826 National, the youth writing centers that author Dave Eggers launched in San Francisco in 2002. “Each center has a storefront. They’re always a little zany,” Bahouth says. (The first 826 store sold eyepatches and peg legs.) Eggers, who sits on YAG’s board, pitched the idea of the vying twins’ den, which led to the air vs. sea concept. Developer Gill Holland suggested the building in Portland, a former Boys & Girls Club that’s on a bus route, close to other arts-oriented nonprofits and easily accessible from downtown. “The community wanted it to be a space for young people again,” Bahouth says.

    This originally appeared in the August 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Twinning Concept." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

    Photos by Joon Kim, studiojoon.com

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