top of page

7 items found for ""

  • Incubating Ideas

    From 2020-2024, I had studio space in Cincinnati. It really became aparent recently how many ideas I could incubate because of access to this flexible industrial space. I had a generous donor (myself - my parents for helping me get here 🥲) who made this possible. Students Get It My favorite part of my projects were advising students. They have the time to dream and always have really bold ideas. I like blending my knowledge of supply chain and practical solutions to help brainstorm and build out what we need to see in the world. What does this look like without an incubation space Since I moved to Lansing, I gave up the studio space to reset. What I’ve found is I still have the time to advise on projects and it opened up the door so they are not just focused on reuse. I am exploring supporting more projects in agriculture and art. I am excited about what is next!

  • Supporting the Cincinnati Makers Council

    Over the last few years, I participated in an exploration of what a Cincinnati Makers Council could look like. The Cincinnati Maker community is connected, but could use centralized support to help build capacity for the existing work happening and create a stronger support system. The Urban Manufacturing Alliance received some funding to kick off this work and I'm excited to support in the work using the budgeted amount for Graphic and Website support for technical support overall. I have a background in providing technical support for communities over the years. I have a history of operating initiatives where part of the establishment of the initiative involves developing a branding development using the help of volunteers (Precious Plastic, The Remake Project, Cincy Knows Best and others). I work with a variety of online platforms like Catch-a-fire and wemakechange.org for finding volunteers. Because I have a strong background in finding and managing volunteers, I am confident in my approach that can save the council money and get us on a better footing for the sustainability of the council. Saving $6000+ to support IT Infrastructure and other Expenses We have the benefit of not needing a physical home initially for the Cincinnati Makers Council because the work is in creating infrastructure for makers so supporting a digital workspace is key to create consistency. A good organized and practical workspace helps with team communications, project management, helps keep comms in one place. To support that, I suggest rethink the budget to support that workspace as those expenses come up - See how I am thinking through that scenario here. Some potential expenses we can afford if we move forward with this approach: Ecosystem Mapping Tool A reference to explain the value and the process- https://ecosystembuilderhub.com/how-to-get-started-mapping-your-entrepreneurial-ecosystem/ Paid Slack Community We are a working group that doesn't have a physical workspace so having a virtual one is key to helping us accomplish our goals. Slack is a workspace that works in collaboration with tools the working group is already using like Google Drive. Thanks for reading - Cyrina

  • My experience with the Black Girl Ventures Change Agent Fellowship

    In 2021 I participated as a Change Agent Fellow in the Black Girl Ventures Fellowship (https://www.blackgirlventures.org/post/leadership-with-a-conscience-meet-our-newest-change-agent-fellows) At the time, I was operating Precious Plastic Cincy as a for-profit and the fellowship was a great opportunity to meet other like minded individuals and get some support for the work that I was doing. Over the course of the fellowship, l learned with my cohort more about building entrepreneurial ecosystem and we brainstormed and dreamed about what we wanted that ecosystem to look like for ourselves. I liked that we worked on a project based initiative. We were all planning towards a pitch competition that we planned the logistics for. Because of this, I felt more connected to the other Change Agents in the fellowship and felt like a got a true sense of their working styles. All cohorts and fellowships should have some sort of project based initiative to encourage a cohesive experience for the participants. Overall, it was a good experience because of everything that I learned in the process including learning more about the start up space. I learned more about what supporting an entrepreneurial community looked like and the effort needed. This has inspired some of my future work and led me to my current role in supporting startups at Valley Folk Studios. Cyrina

  • The Remake Project - An Upcycling Design Studio

    This blog is about my work with the Remake Project. Following my role leading the Precious Plastic Cincy project, I had the groundwork laid out for working with sustainable ideas. I knew there was a way to explore sustainability because we had the space, but I knew plastic accessibility was a very specific approach and there was a general lack of support to the project as a whole (as far as lack of accelerators, fellowships etc) so I thought about what if there was a place that supported bold ideas? So am I starting from scratch? Not really. The research from Precious Plastic Cincy gave me plenty of insights into making, small batch urban manufacturing, and mobilizing people. Makers are the people absolutely needed for this artist revolution. Because I learned about the power of makers and the connections within the Cincinnati area, I had a baseline for what the Remake Project could be. We wanted to empower makers by any means necessary. How I did it? We followed the momentum. Makers have support through maker-spaces that are independently run or through organized institutions like schools, but there was an observed need for more. We explored this through workshops, teaching, a material access, and more. The project works in that it continues to introduce new ways of thinking through action. A University of Cincinnati Collaboration I partnered with multiple students from the University of Cincinnati to develop a reuse ecosystem that centered makers in it. One of the collaborations led to a partnership with 1819 Ground Floor Makerspace (https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2023/04/uc-makerspace-threads-eco-friendly-project.html) where we created a series of workshops that will serve to help members get certified and work with reclaimed materials. Supporing the Cincinnati Maker Community This work was a 1 year exploration into providing technical community support to the maker community through reused materials. The Power Is In the People It turns out that the work was in connecting folks who wanted to help with the cool ideas. The Remake Project evolved into an open volunteer project where we work on items that impact the UN Sustainability Goals. Thank you for reading :) Cyrina

  • What is a creative reuse center?

    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 Thank you for reading -Cyrina

  • What if Plastic Recycling was more accessible?

    Precious Plastic Cincy grew out of learning that 9% of plastic was recycled in the US. I began my research process into actions I could do from 2017-2020. The best viable solution I found to addressing this challenge was through an international movement of plastic recycling I joined called Precious Plastic. I was the founded the Cincinnati group of Precious Plastic and ran the organization for around 3 years. The good. Typically, in my research and solution design process, the process is slowed down by lack of infrastructure, but by working with the existing framework of the Precious Plastic ecosystem. There were plenty of examples and models within the ecosystem so I started work on what it could look like in Cincinnati. I found my humble 200 square foot leased space in a warehouse building. Over the years, I created lasting relationships with the University of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Museum Center, Rheaply and many other community partners. These partners were essential for materials, programs and experiments. See more about what we worked on on this page: https://www.cyrinathomas.com/ppc Beauty in The Struggle? Building a business is hard and I never wanted this project to be one. I think legally I thought I had to because of the LLC discourse. I took it down both the non-profit and LLC path and this work is meant to be a functioning business. As I learned more, I realized my interest lies in the process and mobilizing people toward a common goal rather than endless growth (I'm doing this now at Valley Folk Studios). Over 3 years we built some really awesome, inspiring work that made people really question materials and the world around us and that is the success - critical thinking and material literacy. Where does this project live now? With all projects, the hope is they can self sustain themselves, but this project lives on as a time capsule that proves people give a shit, but maybe not as much as saving money :( and that is an important practical consideration as people explore alternative plastic recycling methods further. This project laid the groundwork for The Remake Project which is a project mobilizing people towards supporting sustainable work. Check that out here: https://www.cyrinathomas.com/remake-project Thank you for reading - Cyrina

  • Do we need another non-profit?

    Short answer: no. My journey into non-profit land began with an idea my friend had around exposing more black folks into careers. I learned with her the process to start and the things to get straight before you do. I learned alongside her in the process and the things you need to get straight before you start. Since then, I have repeated the process for myself and another organization (Precious Plastic Cincy, Triiibe Foundation). The steps are the same, but I challenge anyone on this journey to spend time thinking about the long term vision and their "why" which will be essential along this journey. Committed to doing it anyway? Here's the quick and dirty: Establish a mission and vision. Assemble a board (3-4 people depending on your state regulations) File for an EIN Register with the IRS to get your 501 (c)(3) tax status. Look for the 1023-EZ form. They have an online form that you can fill out. It is a pretty straightforward process. Yo need some Register with your state as well! You have to start with mission and vision and really envision what you want because what comes afterwork is paperwork and minutiae that will be pretty boring and you want to have a "North Star" to shoot for. Maintaining a Non-Profit I learned about this option too late in my journey so I'm starting out here. Fiscal sponsors have the ability to provide back office and financial security to a nonprofit. Find a Fiscal sponsor and/or benefactor who can give you the cash to play, experiment, and explore. Without this you will be in the grant cycle that can be compared to "hand to mouth" cycle more than anything. Hit up your rich friends or get in spaces with foundation leaders before you file the paperwork. I had the experience to be making enough money at the time so had the flexibility to float the expenses for running one, but I am headed in a different direction because non-profit. A Special Note to Black Women I have been trying to put this into words over the last few years, but once I learned the term non-profit industrial complex I can say this a bit more boldly - Black People and specifically black women don't need to to start another non-profit (unless you have an infusion of cash!!). We are under resourced and given less unrestricted funding to start a https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/features/commentary-and-opinion/black-women-give-it-s-time-for-philanthropy-to-invest-in-them What is my point exactly? Before you start, get in touch with someone who is already doing the thing and see if you can join them on their mission :) Special Note to folks looking to create a Scholarship This website helps you do this without filing for a non-profit: https://bold.org/donors/ Thank you for reading - Cyrina

What am I working on?

bottom of page