September 29, 2015
As with most of our intentions, I think of blog posts almost on a hourly basis...finding the time to sit down and write them, that's a whole other matter.
So what have we been up to in the last four weeks since my last post: everything and nothing. There are times when you are trying to get a new venture off the ground, it can feel like you are on a spin bike - working and sweating, with thumping music filling your ears but without a teacher at the front, you are just a loon cycling on a stationary bike.
Finding premises has been by far the hardest thing in our venture to get CAYA off the ground. In South London, actually in any of the locations we are scouting in London, we are struck time and time again with the same issue. In a climate where housing, and particularly affordable housing for London residents, and not our overseas colleagues looking for an investment vehicle, is a real and growing concern. While we will always work to maintain CAYA as a non-partisan community, these graphic representations of the problem is hard to ignore.
What can we do about it? We've approached Southwark Council about using a derelict space - formerly a car park and currently home to artisans, Bold Tendancies, who also are bar owners of rooftop bar and restaurant, Franks' Cafe. The obvious challenge - well it's a car park. It's not designed for up to 50 people to sit comfortable and be creative. We can offer the council bang-for-buck with regards to CAYA's contribution to the local economy and its residents, meeting several of Southwark's social and development needs, but can the council in return offer us a space in the long term? Probably not, as the cycle of local authority is rarely longer than four to five years. Still - it's in the heartland of where we want to be and where we believe there are many of you like us, working in your kitchens desperate for somewhere brilliant to work and collaborate.
Then we thought to throw all the cards up in the air and really think laterally about fitting our business idea to whatever premises we could find available. That led us to a property viewing in the heart of London - a huge seven story building, with grand architecture and so much space you can throw a full cat-swinging party. I think I actually made Kate come and get a stiff drink with me after that meeting - so overwhelmed and excited was I by the prospect of what CAYA could morph into and worried about biting off more than we could possibly chew at this stage in our development. The great thing about working on our proposal for this building is that it helped Kate and I diversify our thinking about all the services CAYA could offer its members. Do you want on-site childcare facilities? Or somewhere to get physio, a massage or a fit in a yoga class in the same building you work? We have no idea whether we can offer these services, but what we do know is, if the right opportunity came along, we could expand our business to fit our members needs.
And, at the heart of it, that's exactly what CAYA is. A space to grow, reshape, reform, develop and be flexible to the needs of its environment and its member. Just as you, as an individual, are expected to do the same to fit the needs of society, your markets and local economy as well as the changing and diversifying needs of your personal life.
Until next time, if you think you might be able to help CAYA find the right space, please do get in touch with us. We always welcome a friendly helpful phone call to the Bat Phone.