Twice a year the Austin Creative Reuse board spends a few days reviewing the activities and outcomes of the organization and creates plans for the next 6 months. These plans allow the board to focus the actions of the board and other volunteers as well as to ensure that we make progress but don’t over commit our resources. Austin Creative Reuse is a mix of part-time staff and volunteers and while there are many exciting opportunities, we want to make sure we take on only what we have the capacity to do.
The organization is guided by three strategic goals:
- Operate with transparency, evidence-based practices, and collaborative processes to be an efficient and effective non-profit organization that balances the needs of all stakeholders. Stakeholders: Customers, Volunteers, Employees, Material Donors, Financial Donors, Community, Environment
- Be a self-sustaining and scalable non-profit organization
- Be a resource for the Austin and Reuse communities that provides programs that utilize or support the creative use of repurposed and discarded materials.
Below are updates on key areas of the organization:
- Finances and Accounting
- Sustainability Committee
- Educator Committee
- Center Operations Committee
- Board Nominating Committee
- Events and Workshops
Finances and Accounting
Financial health continues to be good. Sales continue to meet our budget expectations and we are looking forward to seeing the sales during the holiday season. We hired additional part time staff which allowed us to open more hours.
The Resource Development Council developed several fundraising goals for the remainder of our fiscal year. We will launch our Year-End Giving Campaign with Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday in December. Some of the possible activities for the campaign are a volunteer event, raffle, gift wrapping events, as well as an online appeal. Another goal for the council is to work with board members to host a monthly First Saturday table event outside the center. The event would focus on board member outreach to raise awareness of our mission and center. The third goal is to participate in I Live Here, I Give Here’s Amplify Austin in March 2017.
In September, ACR was awarded a City of Austin Cultural Arts Core Funding Grant to hold artist workshops with a focus on reuse, Each workshop will feature a local artist sharing their art form and participants creating a hands-on project using reclaimed materials. The workshops are free and open to the public.We’re planning for a series of 8 workshops from Nov.- May, and resuming in Sept. to be tentatively located at a pop-up space at the Linc. We have formed a workshop committee to create a plan for implementation of the program. The committee will be searching for artists to teach the workshops as well as volunteers to help with the workshops. The grants is a biennial grant, so the program will be funded through Sept.2018.
Improve our Waste Stream Management
We are pretty proud of our current waste stream management. We have clear processes for dealing with “unsellable” materials which are donated. We recycle all the single stream materials, fabric/clothing and housewares are donated to local thrift stores, plastic film to the grocery store, paints/batteries to hazardous waste, compostables to a compost pile, writing instruments to Terracycle. One stand out is metal which cannot go to single stream. We will implement an additional stream for unsellable metals to a local metal recycler.
In the next six months, our committee will work on Improving communication and outreach to the educator community by launching an educator-specific newsletter and reaching out to specific audiences that may benefit most from ACR resources, like coordinators of schools’ maker spaces. We aim to raise awareness among educators of existing and planned ACR resources, like obtaining materials from the Center, participating in artist workshops, and visiting website and social media sites for inspiration and sharing. We will also be available to answer specific educator questions and pursue a few collaborations with individuals as time allows.
Center Operations Committee
Increase our Business Hours to Better Serve our Community
We opened our Creative Reuse Center in August of 2015, with business hours limited to Thursday’s and Saturday’s from 10-2. With an all volunteer staff and a mountain of donations to weigh, sort, bag, merchandise and organize, it was what we could manage. Now, a year later, our business hours have risen from 8 to 24 per week, and we are looking to increase that to 30 very soon. We will extend our hours on Saturday to 4pm and begin opening on Friday.
System for Schools, Churches, Enviro Groups, Scouts to Tour and/or Volunteer at the Center
We often have requests from groups to tour or volunteer at the center. We’ve tried to accommodate as many groups as possible but as demand increases, we need to formalize the process. We will work to set up an online request from groups looking to tour/volunteer as well as regularly scheduled times that we can offer tours.
Reach out Goal – Start a Business Donors/Relationship Committee
Some of our best donors are businesses who contact us about the materials they would like to keep out of the landfill. Currently, most businesses are making first contact with us. The committee look for ways to engage businesses for donations.
Board Nominating Committee
We are excited to announce our New Board Secretary Karen Miller.
Inspired by Gertrude Chandler Warner’s The Boxcar Children at an early age, Karen began diverting interesting and useful items from the landfill, thrifting, gardening, and refashioning at an early age. She has translated that interest into a career as a professional engineer with a focus on waste management, spill prevention, risk assessment, and reduction of stormwater pollutant discharges from industrial facilities.
Karen began creative pursuits through scrapbooking her two children’s exploits. Through scrapbooking, she learned different techniques related to color theory, the use of different media, photography, and layout. Since then, she has truly enjoyed creatively repurposing items into art pieces, yard art, and a funky henhouse. She continues repurposing by developing creative Girl Scout projects for her troops and SWAPs kits for other troop leaders. Karen views her regular stints sorting materials in the Center’s by-the-bucket section as her weekly The Artist’s Way artist’s date field trip as a means to further engender creativity.
We are excited to grow our board and we are communicating with several interested people to fill other open Board positions.
Sharing information and growing community is vital to the success of the organization. We are continuing our efforts on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Meetup) and Google pages and Yelp.
We have active Facebook and Instagram accounts. Currently, we are posting three to four times per week on both accounts. To increase our presence, would like to post every day on both sites. I’d also like to build up our YouTube Channel and do a monthly blog post.
Working with volunteers from Leap to Success, we are in process of upgrading our website. We have a new theme for the site and are adding more options for content to inspire and educate about reuse. We will continue to make small improvements and maintain content on the existing site.
We are now operating with an Austin Creative Reuse Google G Suite account. This has allowed us to enhance the management of all our documents and will allow us to have gmail accounts for staff and volunteers. We’ll be adding new accounts to help us manage our volunteer opportunities as well as supporting our committees.
Events and Workshops
As we go into our second year in the center, we will start to add demonstrations and simple workshops to our events calendar. We have applied for a grant to run monthly workshops and are awaiting the response to announce further details.
While developing Austin Creative Reuse over the past few years, we participated at many events to build awareness of the organization. For the next six months, we are again limiting our participation at events in order to concentrate our time and effort on the operations of the volunteer center. We are still in need of volunteers that can assist consistently at the center.