We are coming up on 9 months soon, and I am feeling the squeeze. Seven days a week is unsustainable. Hiring people hasn't reduced my work-load since I am still helping to guide the new-comers in our philosophy.
I have done big projects before, and so I know what it takes, and yet...
So I am asking myself, "where can I let go?"
The Art Garage is going well, the attendance is still smaller than I would like, but we are really refining the curriculum which we will be able to maintain. We have had great success merging our goals with those of Keegan's Krew and have been able to bring in the Virtues Project which has been part of our foundational goals from the beginning (check out our foundational doc for our philosophy) LINK
It is pretty incredible to see this philosophy finally finding its form and taking shape as a core curriculum using the 6 core Character Strengths and Virtues of Positive Psychology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Character_Strengths_and_Virtues
It is really great stuff to see in action. But, at the same time we are not dealing with saints here, so it means I need to keep myself grounded in awareness of what is in front of me and not fly off into dreamland.
Basically, we are just starting and so I am not letting go of that.
We have brought in Saturday programming, it is also just starting. I believe I can let go of two days. The coloring day, and Keegan's Krew, which are both easily run by Kelly and Bridget. The STEAM and Song Writing are too close to my heart.
Obviously I am not letting go of the Chrysalis House. I am even looking at where I can get another house! We need more recovery.
CoDA has become the unique contribution of the Community House to the 12 Step programs in the area. I am a huge fan, and believe we all need this as it guides on in how to become more authentic and intimate. We started with one meeting on Tuesday and added a workbook meeting Wednesday and are now adding another meeting Mondays at 6! If you want loving relationships, come join us! I need this as much as anything so I won't let this one go.
Also, we have started Yoga and Meditation. I call it Embodied Awareness instead of Yoga, because my training is in Thomas Hannah's Somatics, not formal Yoga training. I love doing this, and it forces me to engage in my practice. At some point I will have others come and lead us, and probably host other types of embodied health activities, including crystal bowl sound baths, youth yoga, eurhythmy, and much more. So this is just starting, and just as much as I need CoDA I need this as part of my own emotional health. It is staying!
The Shop Co-Op is starting this month! I am so excited. We have an incredible new member of our team. Jason Pickles will become director of the First Apprentice program at the Community House. He brings so much to our growing family! I definitely can't give this up!
We have courses and lecture series. I have been feeling the draw to work on the Already Leading course. It keeps coming up for me. So we are not going to let that go. There is the Inspired Action course, and then there is the Aligning with Your Divine Blueprint. This is a powerful framework that I have worked with before and lead to such incredible insights. I am not sure I can do it though. This may be what I have to let go of, for the moment anyway. We will have to see.
Whew, that was hard work. Needless to say, I have my plate full. So if you want to just hang out and chit-chat, I probably can't join you until next January. But please do come and do some yoga, catch a CoDA meeting, write some songs, or do some art with us at the Art Garage. I want to see you, and it is really very fun.
I believe the Shop Co-Op is the gemstone of the Community House project. But so far it has remained a rough uncut gem. I am not sure even how to get started on this process of cutting away the bedrock.
I have worked through enough project ideas with my students using a reflective action plan process that I have some tools to get started. I know for example, to draw on the expertise of the community. I have been looking for my tradesmen, and it seems like I am not looking in the right place.
Just the other day, I was speaking with my cousin Laura about my dilemma. She told me that her daughter had worked for a man Manny Rodriguez who has started a program called Revolution Workshop in Chicago. He sounds like an amazing visionary, and I need to connect.
I then started looking at the Peoria City Council website, and found that in Peoria the host events to highlight construction careers.
So I have a start. That is what it takes. Now time for me to make a connection and talk with some like-minded people. As Lakshmi said, "Don't be afraid to ask for what you need."
It was 6 months ago today that I officially purchased the two houses that are the foundation of the Community House Network. Anniversaries are milestones to be celebrated, and so today I will find something to cheer about. In your own projects, make sure you do the same!
If you have read Shackleton's Way, then you should take note of the power of celebration and positive morale. From their website: SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON has been called "the greatest leader that ever came on God's earth, bar none" for saving the lives of the twenty-seven men stranded with him in the Antarctic for almost two years. Because of his courageous actions, he remains to this day a model for great leadership and masterful crisis management. Now, through anecdotes, the diaries of the men in his crew, and Shackleton's own writing, Shackleton's leadership style and time-honored principles are translated for the modern business world.
The Community House Network is a big vision. To succeed I am going to need all the encouragement I can muster. By looking at the successes, not just focusing on the seeming failures, I will give myself the inner resolve necessary to continue to move forward. I encourage everyone reading this to take a minute to do the same. Think of the past 6 months, or year even. Where have you been able to see some successes in your life? Where are you aligned with you vision for your future. Take a minute and celebrate those. Write them down, and put them in your pocket. Keep looking for the successes and good people all around you.
In our course on Creativity, we have been discussing the use of creative intentions to live a life we want to see. Truly, I am a big believer that we get what we put out there into the world. Unfortunately, with all of my good intentions, I still have some negative twists where my low self-esteem can come in to create chaos and set me up for self-sabotage.
My creative intention for our first session was to believe that "People are Good and Here to Help." I repeated this phrase to myself for two weeks, and even wrote a song. I had become frustrated because I was not seeing the type of participation I wanted, and specifically some folks I thought were my biggest helpers seemed to have left me high-and-dry.
Then I had a realization, maybe those two weren't meant to be my helpers. I sent out texts to a dozen other people, and they showed up! Within a week the small garage behind the Community House came down and made room for us to access the Shop Co-Op (the gemstone of this project).
Hooray for positive visioning! I made a little video of to honor the experience and used the song I had written.
Check it out!
PEOPLE ARE GOOD & HERE TO HELP!
I have been trying to figure out how to put a donate button linked to the Community House Network endowment account, and as soon as I put a link up, the Foundations Group with whom I have been working sent me some forms to fill out.
The form is for the State of Illinois that requires all charities "be registered for Charitable Solicitation prior to soliciting or fundraising in the state, adding a ""Donate Now"" button to the organization's website, or even accepting a donation other than those used for start up expenses."
This kind of stuff makes me lose my marbles. I don't know why I can do research on pretty much any topic, write articles, analyze data, but when it comes to legalese I go bananas. Nothing makes sense.
This situation was more difficult because the form was being uncooperative.
Needless to say, I deleted my donate button until I can figure it out.
The Open House was small but a powerful experience. I will have to share more later, once I have figured out how to check the correct boxes for the State of Illinois!
Wish me luck.
I have been getting ready for our open house this weekend. It was supposed to be a big fund raiser, but things go a lot more slowly in 3D reality than in my stream of consciousness mental world of imagination.
However, things are moving along. We have recovery meetings five days a week at the Community House. The Art Garage is in full swing, and we have invited Kelly Beal, with her beautiful heart-centered non-profit to join us once a month with youth activities focused on kindness at the Community House. We have been filling up our lecture series slowly with conversations with heart-centered leaders. We started a workshop series called "Already Leading". Finally, we finished our first course in our series of personal development courses, and had our first session of course #2. How to Be Creative and Live a Spectacular Life.
What we have not done is get the Shop Co-Op up and running. Part of the problem is that it is harder than you may think to find contractors who are not so busy that they have time to do their own family affairs, let alone come mentor kids. I thought I had found my partners, but they work more than I do! So much for that.
My imagination can create scenarios about how things are going to get done that don't necessarily pan out. Yesterday, I sat in my own frustration at the "failure" to get done what I wanted to do, I decided to take the advice of Lakshmi, whom I interviewed this week for our If I Knew Then series. One take away that stuck with me, was "Don't be afraid to ask."
I began sending texts, I didn't even know what I was asking for, so I just sent the note "I need a friend." Friends called, and texted, and some showed up on my doorstep. Then we got into action. And, voila! The garage came down.
Magical. Spontaneous. And just what my spirit needed in a moment of wanting to give up.
I love living a creative, spontaneous life. It adds an element of fun to everything, but can also be frustrating for those who like linear, planned things. I do need to have some of those linear types on board since they help me remember to dot the i's and cross the t's. Hint-hint linear types...
So come one, come all. We welcome you to the fun of bringing forth a beautiful world of loving community!
Today I am so grateful that I have help in this process. My brain is very non-linear, and it doesn't follow instructions well. I am great for coming up with ideas, but less great when trying to follow someone else's lead.
So I need to get my financials in order and when trying to find a CPA on April 15th proved to be incredibly difficult, I can't imagine why, I decided I had better complete the paperwork for getting the tax exempt status.
Luckily I didn't have to do much more than scroll through the application completed by the Foundation Group, and thank goodness, because even just scrolling through was making my head spin.
So it is done and done, and hopefully it won't take four years to get approved like it did for Kelly. Big LOVE to her and her passion!
Now I am ready for a nap.
The past few weeks have been busy and exciting. I had interesting connections made with a couple different groups in Peoria. Janice Zagardo, of Creative Stitches Workshop is an incredible connector. She suggested I look at the projects at River City Labs. Finally, I was connected by a student from the course I am teaching at ISU to Kelly Deal, founder of Keegan's Krew
This connection was a powerful one. What a meeting of minds. The importance of spreading kindness in the world and supporting youth to develop a positive, healthy self-image, are such critical elements of our programming at the Community House and Art Garage.
The goal now is to see where our goals align enough to create meaningful programming together. How can we support each other? I have a process that I use in project development that includes a process oriented conversational approach to defining the issues and moving into solution one step at a time. I like to use this process with my students at ISU. Sometimes they get it, sometimes, not so much. As students we are usually given strict frameworks, follow those, and then hand in a final product. This approach fails to allow for input from all of the context of the participants.
When starting a plan, the goal is to begin with a vision. The vision of loving, caring community is at the forefront of much of the programming at the Community House. Because Keegan's Krew has such a similar vision, one of a caring a kind world, we have a beautiful starting point.
The second step is to see what is already in place. In our formational documents, we have a project called, "Heart at Home". It was actually developed for the Peoria school district, but never was enacted. I adopted it for our Community, but it still has an element of being unformed. What if we adopted this to be part of the shared vision of our two organizations.
The past week I started working with this idea with Kelly, and I believe we are on to something. It seems we have the chance for a beautiful collaboration. More to come...
I am filling out my schedule of events, and it will soon be getting very busy. April is the start of the Art Garage. This was the seminal project which inspired the Community House Network. This year our opening will be both of the Art Garage, and the Shop Co-Op which will host the First Apprentice program as well as other activities designed to promote training in the trades. I have often spoken to the power of creativity to transform people's lives. The trades have just as much power to transform not just individual's lives, but whole neighborhoods.
My neighborhood was built by people who worked in the trades and built their own houses. The Chrysalis House was built by a plumber, and has a bunch of incredible details. When people build their own houses they care about those things.
So I live in a neighborhood with houses that were built with such care, and so many are now in complete neglect or disrepair. It is not a matter of not caring, but not having the know-how, or money to pay someone else to do it. This can leave people somewhat helpless.
When people know how to fix their own properties, they can customize them to their hearts desire. What a difference it would make if we could have more home-ownership and a greater knowledge base in the trades so that home-owners could create and take care of the house of their dreams.
Besides just the Art Garage, we have a new project starting in April, The First Apprentice. This is a project-based youth centered program designed to teach kids some of the basic skills of the trades while giving them a chance to build small, fun projects. Our session project to be held on April 10th will be hosted by no other than Ed Boley, of Boley Tools. He will teach the kids to make Antler Lamps. Now that is a cool project. I will have to let you know how it turns out.
Things are moving along, and I am starting be discover some of the incredible resources available to the Community House Network. It seems that there are many corporations that are happy to participate in donating goods to a community non-profit. So far each of the building supply stores we contacted, had things in place to allow them to donate materials for good causes. I am excited because up to this point I have been paying out of pocket for all of the art materials and building supplies we have used at the Art Garage. I am so grateful to Dayna Crocker for helping me realize that help and kindness abounds.
This March we are starting our lecture series called "If I Knew Then". Rather than lectures, these will be more like interviews in an open forum where small business owners will share about their experiences opening up a business. I was sharing this idea with a friend Theresa Bloom who as it turns out works for an organization affiliated with Bradley University, ILSBDC, supporting small business start-ups.
Here is a link to register for their services https://ilsbdc.ecenterdirect.com/info
I am curious to know more, and when I registered for their services, I saw that their upcoming informational support meeting was to be hosted exactly during the hours of our monthly open board meeting. Well why not? So I have put on the agenda that we as a board attend the meeting. I hope everyone can make it. What a great way to expand our circle of knowledge.
I am grateful for those who are participating and helping realize this dream. My hope is that by sharing some of these resources and experiences, others will have an easier road ahead. I know how much I appreciate those who have shown up thus far to help direct me.
Prayer for the day: May I always remain open and teachable.
When I first designed the Community House Network it included in the foundational documents a women's recovery house, "The Chrysalis House". My first steps towards formalizing the project involved a conversation with Peoria based SCORE. Now that I am more in the swing of things with this process, I should look more into what SCORE does in the community of small business entrepreneurialism. Although they got me started and gave me some great ideas, they were limited in their ability to help me with the documents and other fine details I needed to understand about becoming a NFP.
Through their guidance, I created an initial business plan. It included all the spaces: The Center for Creative Learning at 800 W. Thrush, The Art Garage (800 W. Thrush - Rear), The Community House (2223 N. Sheridan Rd), The Shop Co-Op (2225 N. Sheridan - Rear) AND The Chrysalis House (2225 N. Sheridan). During our conversation around the plan, I had concerns about including the recovery home. I still planned to do it, but I thought I would keep it separate from the NFP. The primary reasons for that was to keep it private, and also because I intended to charge women to stay there. I was afraid the stream of revenue would cause problems for me.
Well, now that I am in full swing, I see that the Chrysalis House needs to be brought back as a part of the picture.
Reasons for making the Chrysalis House part of the CHN:
1. Can collect donations to support activities for the house.
2. Can put the house itself in the name of the foundation.
3. Can allow women who are jobless more time to get on their feet, and stay without rent.
4. Can use some of our fundraising to make repairs in the Chrysalis House.
The women are already participating in the activities of the CHN. I hope they will be big members of the network when they graduate!