Community Update – May 8th

36 FB Community Members now – wow!

Welcome to our newest members and those of you who gathered to share your experience in Ohio. It would be great to have the ability to travel and attend gatherings over the upcoming year. No amount of social media contact replaces the experience of sitting with people and being able to communicate directly. Very ‘old school’ of me, I know.

At times over the past year, it has felt like things are moving almost too fast to believe. At times, the speed at which we were able to set up meetings and make connections left me breathless and scrambling to catch up. Other times. I have had to force myself to be patient and allow events to unfold organically, according to a timeline much slower than I had planned. The last few weeks have seen both speeds playing out.

Months of conversations and interviews have resulted in Furniture Link being invited by Ernst & Young to participate in their Ripples program for companies that are expected to have significant social impact in the future. This is an international program and we are among the first to be nominated in Canada. The program can provide access to professional advice, research and profile that a self funded organization like Furniture Link could not expect to buy on its own. I am excited to meet the advisers and other companies in the space.

I have also been in discussions with some of the major corporate players in the Circular Waste universe to acknowledge furniture as a separate stream of solid waste. Society is  moving reusable quality furniture from homes and warehouses and in to the solid waste system instead of the many households who so desperately need it. This is old news to everyone in this network but to many of the individuals and organizations driving policies and funding in this sector it is largely overlooked. I am cautiously optimistic that participation on a panel at  the International Conference on Circular Waste will lead to more awareness and eventually funding for organizations like ours that play a key role in diversion with purpose.

A recent article in Fast Company identifies the Circular Economy as a major future source of skilled manual employment in North America as the sorting and repurposing of goods does lend itself to the international outsourcing that is threatening so many of these types of jobs. I have been in dialogue with a number of organizations to see if we can weave the training  skilled trades in furniture repair, refinishing and reupholstery can be integrated in to the furniture bank model here in Toronto. There is a shortage of people with these skills and many people currently working in the field are at retirement age. It may end up being a stepping stone to full time sustainable income.

We are speaking to members of two communities who are interested in establishing furniture banks and evaluating the best way to support them in their independent journey. I would love to hear from those of you who have had the lived experience of starting up a furniture bank. What do you wish you had had as tools to simplify the process? What advice would you give to these brave souls?

As always, we look forward to hearing from our members and to hear what strategies are working for all of you.

Regards

 

 

 

Annalee Sawiak,
CEO, Founder of Furniture Link Inc.

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