Outgoing President, John, presented his President’s Report at the Annual General Meeting on June 1, 2016:
As a Society in good standing, our organization is required to have an AGM. There is often an over-looked aspect of an AGM that actually benefits the organization. It is a time to reflect and celebrate our collective success and embrace what lies ahead. For us, that means to “stop doing something and stand around”.
The idea for YuKonstruct started two and a half years ago. And look at what together we have have created. Today we have built a makerspace and a corworking space. We have built a community. That’s incredible. We have 6 passionate, motivated and highly skilled staff members. We have a legion of dedicated, diverse and resourceful volunteers: site moderators, workshop-leads, Board members, and volunteers who work at the many important little things that are often unseen. We have funders and sponsors who believe in us, even if we are a little weird. And we have community members who support us through membership, participating or running workshops, or who cheer from the sidelines.
About 6 months ago, I was on a plane coming back from Vancouver. In front of me were two middle aged women. Between reading the in-flight North of Ordinary magazine and bites from my warm Air North cookie, my ears were drifting in and out of their conversation. Until I heard “YuKonstruct”. I listened curious what they were talking about. One lady was talking about how her teenager had taken a workshop or something, and the other said she had heard about the organization but wasn’t sure what it was all about, but that it seemed to be such a positive thing.
A few months go, Logan, Amy and I were at a workshop for Boards. In attendance were other NFP’s. The workshop was an on-going series so the other organizations already knew each other whereas we were the party-crashers. When the 3 of us introduced ourselves as some of the motley crew from YuKonstruct and (co)space, an ED from another organization turned to us and asked in a kind-of rhetorical fashion: “who are you guys?” She meant who are WE? Or rather, WHAT are we? And ultimately, HOW have we created something so amazing and positive, so fast?
That’s a good question. Who are we? What do we believe? And why have we collectively created this thing despite many odds? I think there are many reasons, but at the core it’s because we are fulfilling basic human needs: the need to create and the need to belong.
We are part of a global movement that has arisen to give voice and encouragement to all seeking a sense of belonging to a larger spirit of creating and sharing the things we are passionate about, and expressing ourselves through those things we create. Whether it’s a prototype or a new business idea. This is not a fad that will fade away. What ‘we’ collectively represent is a path for a juicy and fulfilling life.
Perhaps the most significant change in the last year was opening (co)space, our coworking space and sister ‘function’. There have been some growing pains but barely seven months old, it is working. (co)space was another, albeit significant, genesis of who we are; a community of people passionate about making things which reflect who we are and what we believe. It was only natural that our members built (co)space.
I believe today marks the end of one chapter in the story that is ‘us’. Today, we chart a path with great purpose and clarity. Through what I would suggest as an inclusive and comprehensive process, we have developed a community-driven Strategic Plan that outlines our common future. Importantly, it addresses governance which isn’t sexy but critical to our existence. Also, the process clearly cemented (co)space to YuKonstruct. We have much in common and are better together.
As part of this new chapter, we are in the process of hiring an Executive Director for our organization. This ED will work with us to implement our Strategic Plan and help us develop from a start-up to a more sustainable organization. This will be new and I ask us to trust whoever this individual will be in their efforts and support them along the way. I don’t think it will be easy, but I am confident that if we trust each other, are patient, committed, and open to trying something new, this act will propel us to something even greater. The status quo is not an option. And really, trying things in the spirit of making something better is what we are all about.
We have an amazing brand based on a culture that is authentic, positive, and productive. Our brand has garnered a lot of interest particularly at the political level, be it for economic diversification, community health, or quality of life. Let us not be shy of this attention and over the summer and early fall, be proud of our place in the Yukon and be open about how we wish to contribute to a prosperous future for everyone.
I now wish to say a few thank-you’s. We have exceptional staff who are our backbone. Here at YuKonstruct, thank you Logan, Adria and Will. At (co)space, thank you Alessia, Vero and RP. And thank you Tanya, our dedicated bookkeeper. In your own ways, you have each been a big part of the story that is our success. And welcome to our summer-staff members!
I would like to highlight Logan and Alessia who have doggedly championed us at the tables of decision-makers and in the trenches of mundane tasks. Thank you.
I also want to thank our volunteers. You are the heart and soul of this organization and without you and your volunteer efforts, we would just be an organization but because of you we are an alive and thriving community. Thank you.
I would like to particularly thank 3 very special volunteers. Allison, Chris, and Michelle. Since the beginning, for literally years, you have gone above and beyond for this organization and we are the richer. Thank you.
I would like to thank my fellow board members for your service over the past year. Amy, Andrew, Bob, Glenn, Jody, and Seamus. As you know, being a Board member is not an easy task so I thank for the responsibility you accepted on behalf of the organization. Thank you.
Finally, I would like to thank our funders and sponsors: CanNor, Northwestel, Yukon College, MPIG Holdings, What’s Up Yukon, Yukon Brewing, Home Hardware, and others. Thank you.
I would like to make a special thank you to the team at T2D2 within Yukon Government’s Department of Economic Development. Steve, Ben, and Vero – thank you for your faith in us and our efforts. Folks, we are so lucky to have champions like these on the inside. Thank you.
Looking forward, I am encouraged to see so many new faces in our spaces! Thank you to those stepping up to the Board, site mods, and other volunteers. If you are new, welcome. Be part of this community, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and challenge the status quo (in a productive way). For smart growth, change, and adaptability is what will keep us alive.
On a personal note, thank you for trusting me as your president over the last several years. It has been a wild ride with highs and lows. This weird, wonderful and at times frustrating thing we have created together has been one of the highlights of my life. I am sad to move on from this role but believe there is a time for everything and change is important for me and the organization. And who knows, maybe this fall I will wow you all with my secret ninja maker skills!
I will leave you with a closing thought.
We are not about any one person. It’s about us. We are a community. To use a close-to-home metaphor, a makerspace isn’t really a makerspace if it only has one tool. There has to be lots of tools of different shapes, sizes, ages, uses….diverse but all with a singular purpose to help make things. And that goes the same for the people. For it is the people who are the true magic. And I don’t think it can ever be about any one person, or small group of people, but the collection of us all. And I hope that doesn’t change. It’s not about me, or you, or them. It’s about us.
Today we stand tall. Let us be proud of where we have come from and where we are going. And let us be reminded that with a ‘big tent’ for everyone, we keep the magic alive.