NatureSpace Team Meeting Notes: 29 June 2018

In attendance were Barbara Linssen, Julie Bernstein, Oren Bernstein, Eric Rosewall, Reed MacDowell, Mary Jaron Kelly, Mary Collet, Fara Blaszek, Peter Mogielnicki, Nancy Mogielnicki, Tiffney Townsend

Nancy summarized current status of the project. The site plan is almost finalized. We have $9,128 in funds in hand thanks to the Community Watershed Stewardship Program grant. The total estimated project cost will be between $13,180 and $18,180, depending on how much additional fundraising happens.

Draft plan of landscaping for the NatureSpace
Site of NatureSpace within Wilshire Park

Barbara Linssen summarized the current status of work with our fiscal agent, Central Northeast Neighbors. We are awaiting final information about crowdsourcing funds and how to correctly handle donation checks. Checks should be made out to Central Northeast Neighbors with a memo noting that the funds are for the NatureSpace account.  Barbara also noted that donations to the project will be tax deductible, and that accountability is required from organizations that issue grants, so we will need to report on how the money was spent and how many volunteer hours and hours of public engagement the project entailed.

Tiffney Townsend reviewed the status of PR materials. She has completed flyers and small handouts summarizing the scope of the project with concept visuals and web addresses for more details. They will be posted at the moment we get the go for fundraising. All of the PR materials can be downloaded and printed at home, or taken to a professional printer. Two versions are available including 8 1/2 by 11 posters suitable for hanging in shop windows and four-to-a-sheet small handouts that could be given to friends and neighbors.

The question of how business donors would be recognized was raised.  Peter was under the impression that parks would not allow signage of this type on Park property but Eric thought some sort of temporary short-term signage would be possible to acknowledge major donors.  In either case, there could be recognition of business donors in the Beaumont-Wilshire and Alameda Neighborhood Newsletters which go to many neighborhood residents.

Mary Jaron Kelly shared her experience with fundraising.   She suggested the potential value of tabling at Fremont Fest on August 4 and offered to sign up volunteers and help Tiffney with PR materials.

Eric Rosewall felt the budget range and flexibility was reasonable and that that supervision of volunteers would not be difficult since the tasks at hand were fairly straightforward.  Eric said a preliminary schedule for work days – soil preparation, constructing hardscape and planting – would be available soon. Eric noted that inkind donations (plants, hardscape materials, refreshments for work crews) could be accommodated but would need to be integrated with the work schedule. Eric also mentioned that the CWSP grant was dispersed on a reimbursement basis meaning that materials would need to be paid for out of a source other than grant money initially and then reimbursed by CWSP through the fiscal agent at a later date.

Mary Collet said that it would be helpful if business donors could be offered the possibility of purchasing specific items.  Eric responded that this might be difficult with regard to financial donations but that if a business wished to donate a product – for example a hardware  store or feed store donating fencing or a nursery donating flats of native plants – this would be possible to accept and integrate into the work and accounting.  Mary also reminded the group that some businesses had employee volunteer work programs and that this could be a source of some of the community volunteer labor.

Fara Blazak has already spread the word to some of the leaders of local Girl Scout troops that they and their Scout troops could expect to participate in planting and other activties when they occur in the fall.  She will also seek volunteer involvement from the Alameda Girl Scout troops.

Everyone was asked to give some thought to businesses and individuals they might approach to donate towards the NatureSpace.  One way of presenting this idea is that the project already has $9125 in grant support but needs matching funds of about this same amount to achieve its full potential. Members of the group listed prominent bankers, realtors, and other businesspeople who would have an interest in improving the neighborhood and may be willing to display our posters or even make a tax-deductible donation.

There were two important concluding notes to everyone helping with the NatureSpace. First, do not begin asking for donations yet as there isn’t anywhere for the money to go and we don’t want enthusiasm to fizzle. As soon as we clarify the details of how we will work with out fiscal sponsor, the PR and informational materials will be released and you can go for it. Secondly, when you intend to contact a specific business, please let Peter know so we can avoid having multiple requests sent to the same business.

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