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Question #3:

An approach that doesn’t scare off certain stakeholders from the get-go would seem to foster better chances of collaboration. Identify benefits to each stakeholder group from various scenarios; likewise, identify risks (financial, reputational, social) for each stakeholder group from those same scenarios. Conduct a devil’s advocate review of these benefits & risks for each stakeholder; try to see the issues from each stakeholder’s perspective. Identify deal-breakers, even including language that turns away potential partners.

Create and practice talking points to address these benefits & risks for various stakeholders so that Built with Humanity is clear and as persuasive as possible. Attempt to build real partnerships with stakeholders (residents, property owners, developers, city government, commercial interests that are lease-holders) that are mutually beneficial. Attempt to identify sympathetic individuals within the most confrontational stakeholder groups to act as sound-boards, to assist progress, to advise or liaise with.

I hope this helps!

Tony Gleason

I appreciate how you are approaching a very complex issue that involves so many stakeholders where only some maintain substantial financial (and other) power. From the outset I’m not sure whether you see a collaborative solution that involves developers and property owners who’ve decided to evict residents and lease to commercial interests – or whether your intent is to identify methods to dismantle those particular powerful interests. My initial take after reviewing this project is that the latter tends to be your preference, not sure. I respect your taking on such a heavy and consequential phenomenon!

Question #1

There doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis on identifying and disseminating supporting data, particularly hard numbers that define population growth / decline, demographic indicators, income, income sources, property tax structure, financial investment from outside developers, property value changes over time, infrastructure issues including transportation, how local government works, how policies and regulations are instituted, etc. In my opinion, these data should be an essential part of the fellows’ training in order to equip them with enough knowledge to defend their positions to any possible stakeholder: residents, city government, developers, property owners, etc. Particularly for recalcitrant stakeholders, the better informed your fellows are the more effective they can be. Utilizing GIS mapping as a store of information might be helpful in this regard.

Can you identify specific property owners who have evicted residents in favor of commercial leases? What about identifying the top real-estate developers who are purchasing land and transforming it from residential to other purposes or population targets. It might be helpful to map out stakeholders in East Austin to a detailed level (companies, names, property addresses, investment value, etc.).

There doesn't appear to be information about local businesses, particularly those businesses that have had a foothold in East Austin for a longer period of time. Can you identify sympathetic potential partners among the local business community? Among all stakeholder groups?

Language used in the grant, specifically “Dismantle Power Constructs”, could really turn off potential partners. Do you prefer to have all stakeholders at the discussion table? IMO could effect the most change. My reading of this project suggests in Phase 2, “community” only includes residents? Local businesses are also members of the community that can bring additional resources to solving local problems. Are developers considered a part of the community they are developing ? Should they be? Are property owners considered to be a part of the community? Including those that have already evicted residents and lease to commercial interests? I think it’s important that you address these questions within your own organization (maybe you already have).

Have you thought about developing metrics to determine which residents qualify for program inclusion and/or assistance?

What has caused previous solutions to not be substantially implemented? To what degree were local, resident voices ignored? Will the various causes remain for any additional solutions posed by this project?

What does success look like (for you) on a block by block level? Can you describe East Austin after a successful project implementation?

Question #2:

My take is that you’re leveraging fellows to uncover ideation from residents. Will fellows invite other stakeholders for ideation sessions? It's a high bar for fellows to achieve. Should different fellows have different foci ? Should each fellow choose different Subject Matter (tax structure, property investment, policy & government, research, data analysis, presentation, etc. ) ? Or are all fellows expected to gain the same body of knowledge? Will Fellows work as a Team or have the same responsibilities with collaboration? What is an ideal outcome for a Fellow?

(I've run out of space, will continue in next comment . . . )

I appreciate the holistic aspects of your project and like how the three foci can be mutually supporting. I must admit I had a difficult time understanding your 3 questions and wonder what types of answers you are hoping to achieve. Although I’ve helped implement cooperative and social enterprise projects, we utilized a very business (for-profit) focused methodology including substantial enterprise development training for beneficiaries. It might be worthwhile to articulate your goals utilizing the UN’s SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) framework as well in order to speak more to the language of potential donors.

Question #1:

Achieving ‘No Waste’ / ‘No Emissions’ are difficult goals, particularly as you’ve identified a current project need of vehicles to transport products. Moreover, welding, tie-dye and tailoring processes all tend to produce at least minimal by-product waste even with hyper-efficient processes. I’m thrilled to see your intention to institute a perma-culture mindset, but it’s harder to implement those principles outside of agricultural processes.

That being said, perhaps if you undertake basic research to identify how other similar projects may be completely redefining productive enterprise paradigms you might find some positive examples. Can you recruit / enlist / enroll any local or regional students to help conduct internet research? If so, it would help if you were able to better articulate the questions you hope to answer.

Question #2

Research how others have done this. Recruit students to help conduct research, but make sure to give them clear guidance, especially clear questions and what you’re hoping to find out through that research. If you intend to identify additional donors, you need to find those donors with particular interest in your activities (early childhood education, permaculture, vocational training, social enterprise development, business training, etc.), and often tailor the grant language to that donor’s interest. Again, it would be helpful to try and redefine your goals utilizing the UN’s SDG framework, which might help donors better understand your program goals and activities.

Question #3

Beneficiaries should self-select based on their interest in the different co-operative functions, in other words – they should have an inherent interest in the types of income generating activities that they will become involved with. Those beneficiaries should undergo fundamental business training that includes an active market research component where a part of the training involves sending the students / beneficiaries out into the community (and other communities) to assess the market for that particular product or service. This component should require Students / Beneficiaries to hit the ground and investigate sourcing channels and costs as well as marketing channels and prices, in addition to other logistic costs such as transportation, warehousing, spoilage, etc.

An important part of strategy is to understand what production or services areas you should get involved with, and which ones you should not get involved with. It’s important to say “no” to opportunities that are outside of your capacity or bandwidth as they can pull your organization too far apart. It seems you have already chosen a few production / service areas (welding, tailoring, construction, tie-dying, agriculture); how did you come up with those particular areas? Again, when self-selected students / beneficiaries identify their interest to pursue those particular areas, you should provide them with enterprise training that includes an active component requiring them to go out into the communities to conduct on-the-ground market research on both sourcing and marketing sides.

I hope this helps!

Tony Gleason