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Elizabeth O'Brien
21/Sep/2020

At the beginning of last week, we came together for one of our Ask-NCN Live member-only calls to discuss pivoting during the pandemic.* We had quite a positive response and were energized by how many members took this opportunity to participate, learn from each other, and collaborate across the network. These past six months of the pandemic have been difficult in so many ways and at NCN, we are so impressed with the incredible resilience, creativity, and grace shown by our members during this time. It was inspiring to hear what innovative ideas different centers have used to address the unique needs and challenges of the pandemic, and how they think those innovative ideas could be used in the future. Here a few common challenges that have come up during this time, and a few tips about how to handle these challenges.


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The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) is committed to implementing imaginative, creative initiatives to achieve social equity and a balanced economic ecosystem. We work in the public trust to bring a human dimension to development improving the quality of life for residents, nonprofits, businesses, employees, and visitors. Our goal is to balance economic vibrancy, housing, and open space to create sustainable communities through new and revitalized development. We are an independent, agile public authority bringing a unique set of redevelopment tools to work in close partnership with the City of Cambridge and other organizations.


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We are a hub for accelerating collaborative action in Southeast Michigan’s nonprofit community. We have paired national best practice research with local insights and context to develop a nimble and coordinated approach to realizing impact in our region. Our space serves as a natural place for nonprofits to connect, share ideas and develop solutions together. We build authentic community through cultivated conversations and events designed to build trust, deepen relationships and set the stage for collective impact. But we are more than just a space. We source local wisdom to co-create programs and resources that meet nonprofits where they are.



Being part of the decision-making process for Edmonton’s arts space development, Arts Habitat focuses on achieving a long-term impact by building strong relationships and working with others to share our knowledge and expertise. We support arts spaces that are welcoming, safe, and respectful of all and actively support the arts as a career path. We champion artistic craft, expression, and experience, which we believe is essential for a healthy community.


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Our 38,000 sq ft. building hosts a variety of annual tenants, regular users, and one-off workshops and special events. We have a large commercial kitchen, a small family-style commercial, large and small assembly spaces, a laundry room, raised bed community gardens, and three fully fenced outdoor spaces with play equipment and a barbeque shelter. Pre-pandemic, we welcomed over 3000 people a month accessing services. Our rural community covers 900 sq miles and has a population of 85,000 people, we are proud to be the first social purpose space in the region, welcoming to all families.


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The Nonprofit Centers Network has an active listserv as part of its membership. As various cities or states across US and Canada enacted shelter in place type orders, center managers started chiming in with questions and steps taken, and together our community began to navigate this unprecedented time.  It became clear that it was time to take this discussion into a webinar format and open it up to a wider community, not just members. So on April 3rd, NCN hosted a panel discussion style webinar around Managing Shared Spaces During COVID-19 addressing concerns around financial sustainability, the logistics of an empty building and maintaining community. NCN’s new Co-Directors Alexis Paza and David Schrayer joined Saul Ettlin of Community Vision and NCN’s Steering Committee to dive into these topics, guided by pre-submitted questions and the listserv discussions. Below is a summary of NCNs suggestions around these topics, including tips shared in the chat box from some of our 80 participants.


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The Posner Center convenes, connects and catalyzes the global development community to collaborate for greater impact. We do this by bringing together organizations and building an engaged, thriving, community – a community where people meet and learn about one another, exchange ideas, access shared resources and support, and ultimately combine their expertise to generate more lasting solutions to global poverty


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Fairhill Partners non-profit connects people to opportunities for lifelong learning, intergenerational relationships, and successful aging. We are situated on 9+ acres of land. We offer housing to Grandparents raising Grandchildren and Seniors in our townhouses and apartments on campus. One of our townhouses called our "Senior Guest House" is designated for those 60+ and first-time homeless. In our multi-tenant commercial building, we offer spaces from 200 to 20,000 square feet.


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