On October 26th, Circular Philadelphia held its second annual Fall Members Meeting at Philadelphia Brewing Company in the East Kensington section of Philadelphia. Aside from how nice it was to do an indoor event and no longer have to contend with the weather, we were very proud to have our meeting at a location that has been such an anchor for the East Kensington community, and the tasty beer that our members enjoyed after the meeting was certainly a bonus.
But before we got to the fun social part, Circular Philadelphia co-directors Samantha Wittchen and Nic Esposito reported on the work from the past 5 months since our last meeting. Although the summer months tend to be quiet for many organizations, it was anything but that for Circular Philadelphia. Some of the highlights of the report on Circular Philadelphia’s work for the past five months, which can be viewed in this recording online, included:
- Global manufacturing company Saint-Gobain becoming a Gold Sponsor
- The Green Family Foundation providing a $25,000 general operating grant
- Formally receiving 501(c)3 status from the IRS
- Producing policy flyers on Single-Use Plastic Legislation and Expanding Access for Construction Debris Recycling
In the next six months, Circular Philadelphia plans to:
- Increase our opportunities for members to promote the organization as well as expand Circular Philadelphia’s capacity for promoting our member businesses
- Turn the existing policy flyers into policy and legislative white papers for legislators and other government officials
- Complete policy flyers on Vacant Land Activation and Construction and Demolition Recycling Ordinance
- Expand our board
But it wasn’t just six months that we looked forward to at the members meeting. With the help of Circular Philadelphia member and professor Dr. Alan Bush, we conducted an exercise that Dr. Bush has coined “Ensemble Storytelling” to tell Circular Philadelphia’s story over the next 5 years.
After such a successful first year, Circular Philadelphia knows that we have staying power and that we need to plan for the future. Although strategies and more quantitative metrics are obviously needed as we plan and gauge our future impact, we wanted to start off with a qualitative narrative that really explores what type of organization we want to be and how we plan to get there with our staff, board, members and partners.
Although exercises like this always warrant a certain level of curiosity if not outright skepticism, members present at the meeting were fully engaged as they broke into groups based on our four market sectors (vacant land, built environment, textiles and food systems) and told a story in 4 chapters that went from how to we plant the seeds of change, grow them, overcome obstacles and still tracked our success. Sam’s and Nic’s favorite moments were when members came to them afterwards and said, “I didn’t know what to expect, but that was a great way to plan the next 5 years.”
We still have a lot of work to do to fully tell the story, and thanks to Dr. Bush, we will be doing that over the next month. But below is a graphic of what members initially committed to doing in the first week after the meeting to keep this work moving forward. We will keep our members posted as we continue to develop the story and will fully release it to the public when it is complete.
We finished the night with good drinks from PBC, which were provided by our event sponsor and Silver Sponsor Vicinity Energy, as well as some great food donated from our delicious and sustainable member business Tiffin Indian Cuisine. With bellies full of crisp beer and tasty samosas, we toasted to yet another successful bi-annual gathering of our members and the next five years ahead.
(To check out photos from the event, visit the album on our Facebook page.)
Photo credits: In Between Rivers and Samantha Wittchen