While working on Precious Plastic Cincy, I built great connections in the Creative Reuse space, but what I found was it was hard to find paths to work with them because Creative Reuse Centers are generally busy with many operational focuses and didn't have as much capacity to connect. Over time, I decided to explore what supporting these places could look like to give them more time and capacity.
How did they start and who is supporting them?
There wasn't a tipping point of these places coming to be, but they seem to have just happened. It was interesting to me that they spontaneously became a thing that everyone understood, but they weren't connected to via standard industry methods like associations.
I needed to begin to see how they were all connected so began to catalog them and other pertinent research to derive insights.
Most of them are supported by non-profits which was an interesting concept since most of these places have brick and mortars, employ people, and are relatively stable from a volume perspective. I have mobilized a team of researchers to learn more about these places and build out functional tools for them (like manuals, dashboards, etc).
"Am I building a community of practice?"
Communities of practice often focus on sharing best practices and creating new knowledge to advance a domain of professional practice (https://www.communityofpractice.ca/background/what-is-a-community-of-practice/)
When I joined one for makerspace leaders in Cincinnati, I made the connection (with the help of a mentor - thanks Ben!) that I was building one with the Creative Reuse Collective so I leaned into that more to develop a self sustaining concept.
Why isn't there a community of practice or national organization in Creative Reuse?
This is a locally focused profession and lifestyle that doesn't call for physical convening, but could benefit from local state meetups which the Virginia group is already doing!
The Ideal Set Up
From my years of involvement in online communities, I have set out to set up and create a sustainable solution for the Creative Reuse Communities that provides relevant trainings and documentation of challenges.
We went through a bit of deliberation on the location of the chat community. Existing options exist like Slack, Discord, and Linkedin Groups. Linkedin didn't have enough features around notifications and theming channels to improve the "findability" of materials, so we settled on Slack because of it's integration to other features like Google Drive, etc
Find more information about it here: creativereusenetwork.org