Arts Estuary 1024 is a multi-tenant arts facility in a renovated historic building. The center is located at 1024 Elysian Fields Avenue in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans on the edge of the St. Claude Avenue Arts District. Arts Estuary 1024 supports a collaborative environment that fosters the growth and development of individuals and organizations dedicated to the creative arts and community engagement. The facility is primarily used as administrative space for local cultural organizations but can also accommodate meetings, gatherings, rehearsals, receptions, and events.
For most people, sharing resources – whether it be office space, accounting staff, or a common kitchen – is a new way to work. With the release of the Streamlining Social Good report and our recent webinar on the same topic, I’ve been thinking a lot about my biggest takeaways from this convening and what I would tell other people
For many years, I’ve believed that building the trust necessary for collaboration takes time – weeks, months, maybe even years. While at the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s institute on Network Leadership, a presentation by David Sawyer and David Ehrlichman of Converge for Impact shook loose my perspective on the subject. Over the course of a two-hour session, I and over 300 participants were led through a series of exercises focused on what we could do to build trust for impact in our own networks. At the end, I was surprised, not only at what had been shared with me, but also at what I had shared with others, and how quickly we had found common ground upon which to build. Here are my top take aways from the session...
In September, I had the privilege of attending the Stanford Social Innovation Review’s Nonprofit Management Institute on Network Leadership. I have been interested in the topic of network leadership because every nonprofit center that we know of is or has the potential to be a network for catalyzing social good. For many years, the idea was that to increase your social impact, you had to bring your model to scale. However, researchers like Jane Wei-Skillern have found that there have been many organizations who have multiplied their ability to achieve impact by taking the opposition – slimming down their operations, specializing, and working in concert with partners.
Lately we’ve been hearing a lot from funders about their interest in addressing inequality: in income, race, sex, education, economic opportunities and more (see Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation here). The Ford Foundation has used this lens to rethink how it conducts its grantmaking and how it measures its success. Other foundations are following suit and there’s even some controversy around how to define the goal of equity. This has led me to wonder how nonprofit shared space fits into this new lens. How do we, as a sector, address inequality? Here are three ideas:
Two recent pieces make me wonder if the pendulum is shifting on the open floor plan model. There’s no changing the fact that the trend in workspaces is toward smaller footprints, leaner offices, more mobile furniture and flexible set-ups.
I am intrigued by Andrew Stern’s article in the latest Stanford Social Innovation Review titled, No Exit The Case for Nonprofit Holding Companies. It dovetails with our upcoming event in Philadelphia, Streamlining Social Good on April 28th. Stern’s premise is that nonprofits often hit a wall after 5-10 years when fundraising becomes more difficult and leadership transitions abound. In the for-profit sector there is an efficient system for harnessing the value in such an organization – companies are acquired by larger companies and derive benefits from the additional resources these strategic mergers offer. They don’t have to get to scale on their own, as is presumed in the nonprofit sector: Grow, Change or Die! Nonprofits don’t have a similar way to pivot and still retain their value.
Shared spaces can be platforms for your community to access new funding sources. I’ve come across a few new initiatives that could be a great fit for you. As shared spaces, you are running centers that are at the crossroads of many organizations, issues areas and constituencies. These are great opportunities to demonstrate the impact of the diversity of your tenants/members and to provide a value back to them by bringing them potential new resources.
Many nonprofit centers I’ve visited do a lot to reduce their carbon footprint, from putting in super-efficient HVAC systems and bio-walls to replacing your trash-can with a recycling bin. Since approximately 20% of office waste is organic matter, the next step for many groups is to start an office composting program. Both centers I’ve worked out of, the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in San Francisco and The Alliance Center in Denver, have run successful composting programs for years. Here are some tips your space.