Recyclique/CommunEcos: Reflections on 2012; Where to next?
VISIONS REALIZED IN 2012:
~ We transitioned to four educational events per month by early spring, and developed an educational committee that works well. We sponsored a total of 45 weekend workshops on environmental and economic sustainability and skill-share topics.
~ We collaborated with NC School of Science & Mathematics to organize a series of renewable energy seminars in the spring which were videotaped for online learning, and offered mentoring to NCSSM students doing sustainability projects last fall.
~ We held nine rain barrel workshops with Living Social clients or non-profit groups last summer and managed a rain barrel painting booth for the 4th year at the Eno Festival.
~ We helped found Repair Café – Durham and held three events with them in the fall.
~ Our educators taught portions of Durham Economic Resource Center’s green career training program serving two cohorts of adult students last year (and are about to teach another one later in January).
~We held 3 volunteer workdays to improve our site, and with help from Master Gardeners and Mosaic Acres built and planted vegetables in 3 raised beds.
~ We developed one part-time staff position, systematized our promotions with help from staff, and a system for sharing proceeds with upcyclers who refurbish co-op furniture.
~We built our board of directors to five people, developed our website (www.communecos.org), completed steps for IRS certification as a non-profit; and obtained a lease for the property at existing rent for the next year and a half.
~We participated in St. Lukes Alternative Gift Fair for the 2nd year.
~We drew in new upcycler vendors and their share of sales rose from 20% to 30% of monthly revenues. [When you add that in with in-house co-op upcycling (barrels, furniture and lamps), the upcycler total comes to more like 40%.]
~ We have drawn together a nucleus of community activists and educators who are working together on environmental and alternative economics issues.
~ We improved displays and developed new lines of inventory in the shop – including books – and have proven that our self-supporting finance model can work – our proceeds from the shop, rental income and donations just barely cover monthly expenses.
~We successfully assisted a group of UNC student to apply for a $5,000 grant from the New Economics Institute for a spring conference, and our proposal to coordinate a 2-day track on sustainability at a Duke conference of anthropologists in March was accepted.
CHALLENGES/ VISIONS/PLANS FOR 2013:
We need to boost monthly revenues to be able to buy inventory and grow; we’d like to begin to offer more sustainability-related products in the shop.
We want to move ahead faster on collaborations to develop the backyard for educational and social enterprise projects.
We need to do more outreach and collaboration with minority communities and recruit minority leadership onto our board.
We are entering into a phase of grant-writing to support educational programming.
We need to install a shed for storage for upcycled small furniture, to free up space in our workshop. We hope to recruit a coordinator to improve co-op production.
We’re working on systems to better coordinate volunteers for staffing and promotions.
We will develop better administration for bookkeeping, record-keeping, forms, etc.
We will help coordinate two conferences on sustainability/alternative economics, one with anthropologists at Duke in mid-March, & one with UNC students later in the spring.
We hope to develop and promote the blog on our website.