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Physical Center in Portland
Posted: 27 April 2010 12:44 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi, everyone!

It is time to start talking about whether or not we want to have a building for CFI in Portland, and if so, how we would expect to use it, what resources that would require, and how we would go about getting it.

Please use this thread to contribute ideas.

SylviaB

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Posted: 28 April 2010 07:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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SylviaB - 27 April 2010 12:44 PM

Hi, everyone!

It is time to start talking about whether or not we want to have a building for CFI in Portland, and if so, how we would expect to use it, what resources that would require, and how we would go about getting it.

Please use this thread to contribute ideas.

SylviaB

Simple answer- yes.

A suggestion, start small.  Some office space for two people to work (like a bookkeeper and President), and a large room that could hold about 20 people for a discussion.  Then people could schedule the large room for CFI events, such as a Wed. book discussion group, and other fellowship groups (like the LBQ series).  I would say to try to place the location between downtown Portland and where most of the members reside, so it is closest on average to where most of the members live.

Then there could be a meeting one night at the same time a bookkeeper or administrator wants to do some work.

You could also share an existing building with someone who currently owns it but doesn’t use it to full capacity.  I know a place like that in Hillsboro (likely too far away from being a central location).

...Bernie

[ Edited: 28 April 2010 08:31 PM by Bernie_Dehler ]
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Posted: 28 April 2010 08:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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A CFI PDX center not far from downtown (+/- a mile or two) would be great. Although half of me agrees with a basic modest starter facility, I also have an imagination for a place that is big enough for:
—large group gatherings
—a library
—a kitchen (or kitchenette)
—a coffee shop (with lattes that have the evolve fish image in the whip topping).
—a space for classes (educational/fun,etc)
—a space dedicated to something concretely charitable for the community at large.
—office space and parking space.
—gardens for birds, native plants, water, serenity.
Am willing to help…
Sherry

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Posted: 29 April 2010 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Has anyone looked into using these Beaverton Community Rooms for free?

https://www.beavertonoregon.gov/secure/booking_system/rooms/room_library_rooms.cfm
https://www.beavertonoregon.gov/secure/booking_system/rooms/fees.cfm

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Posted: 29 April 2010 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Bernie,

we are using them for our children’s programs.

I think for a Center, we are looking for a presence of our own that we can slap our logo on, permanent offices, walk-in opportunities, etc. Other Centers have reported that that has been a boon for membership and exposure.

Sylvia

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Posted: 29 April 2010 05:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Bernie,

...but I like your idea of starting with small bites. One of the things we have to decide is how big to take this from the beginning.

I would love to hear more about how you see us progressing from there to our own building.

Sylvia

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Posted: 01 May 2010 07:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I would think that, by starting with defining the regular amount of $$$ available that could be devoted to a physical space, i.e., a budget, we’d have an idea where to look next.

And then, unless two or three people felt like making major investments with all the attendant long-term risk, I’d rent.  Not to make a premature commitment that might put individuals at risk before we’re sure a money flow has been established.

There’s some amazing choices of space in Portland, from food courts with adorable little trailers and outdoor shared seating, to old churches, to industrial lofts.  And also I’d do a poll on where everyone is coming from geographically.  Maybe we need a CFI Nursing Home on the penthouse floors so we aging atheists can participate in social activities, but meanwhile everyone could weigh in with a zip code as one variable for deciding on a location?  Where do you live, how far will you drive info can be collected independently of rent/$/buy/specifics.

I have also in mind the old Christian Science Reading Rooms.  If we duct-tape out the “Christian” and wrote “Evidence-Based”  it would be very punk, and the rest of it could remain the same gracious, comfortable, friendly propaganda centers people found attractive in the past.  Dunno how they operated, tho—I never went in.  I’m concerned that any food-beverage sales would bring in licenses, health dept. inspections, foodhandlers’ cards…

I’ve never been to any of the CFI centers, but I think that Portland is a different kind of place than most.  We’re more about the nurturing and community spirit than slick professionalism.  And the Secular Humanists among us spend a lot of time realizing that there’s something different about being human that needs more nurturing rather, than, say, a musk ox needs.

My therapist is using borrowed space in an amazing building at 12th and Division.  It hosts offices, dance studios, open space, all sorts of possibilities.  Also, the Portland Tree Project was looking for an officemate in their last newsletter…

If we had a thrift shop I would volunteer for 12 hour shifts, 6 days a week.  I don’t think there’s any money to be made there, tho.  Maybe books and magazines.  Children’s toys.  And tchotkes.  Come in for the tchotkes, stay for the debunking.  A three hour shift dusting tchotkes followed by a good game of Scrabble would engage me in the community as a volunteer on a regular basis.

Regards,

Lynne

Oh, and why were there 120 views on this Topic but only 2 people contributed?  At least say you wouldn’t come to visit the building because you’re afraid to identify with rationality in public!  Opinions, please…

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Posted: 01 May 2010 11:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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With Church membership declining, old church buildings should be relatively cheap.  Would converting a church building turn anyone off?

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Posted: 02 May 2010 04:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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KurtJ - 01 May 2010 11:33 PM

With Church membership declining, old church buildings should be relatively cheap.  Would converting a church building turn anyone off?

Quite the contrary - i think it’s a great idea!

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Posted: 02 May 2010 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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A central location near public transportation seems ideal. I really like the church idea assuming we can avoid unkind confrontations. It makes a great deal of sense to find a place that is already outfitted but remains vacant for several days each week. A larger and more flexible space will naturally hatch more elaborate and successful events.

I think consideration for future growth must be paramount as well. If some sort of substantial investment is made it should take into consideration what the organizations needs might be several years from now.

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Posted: 02 May 2010 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I pretty much agree with what has already been stated:

- Start small, based on whatever regular, stable cash flow we can get.
- Include meeting and office space within our budget, perhaps sharing or subletting to other groups.
- Aim high in the long run, with a larger facility with space for a library, a coffee bar, and other amenities.
- It would be great to buy a church building. With the decline of traditional churches, I expect a lot of them to be on the market in coming years. I would love to attend the deconsecrating ceremony.
- A location central to the Portland metro area, with easy access (including transit) and parking. A downtown location would be central, but I’d prefer to avoid the congestion and parking hassle. That could just be me, though. I doubt a ZIP code study is warranted—just somewhere near the middle of the metro area should do. I doubt our membership is uniquely situated geographically.

In short, this is a great idea! Now let’s see if we can find the money for it.

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Posted: 02 May 2010 02:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’ve got no trouble whatsoever with a building that was once purposed for religion.  Sorta seems like the ultimate in recycling!  And since we don’t believe in ghosts (do we?) it isn’t like we’re gonna be haunted by priests or nuns or other scary folk.

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Posted: 02 May 2010 06:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Lynn said:
“I would think that, by starting with defining the regular amount of $$$ available that could be devoted to a physical space, i.e., a budget, we’d have an idea where to look next.”

1. Lease/rent a regular place, like as HGP does (use them as a model).  These places can be from ‘free’ to really cheap (compared to outright ownership).

2. Simultaneously, create long-term plans for a real building, then raise funds to get it.  It could take a year or many years, but no hurry since a temporary place is in operation.  A temporary place is also good for training wheels (how to create/manage a budget, keep records, organize people, organize leadership, etc.). 

#2 is where faith and hope come into play.  You have to plan with faith and hope in the future, that you’ll get the money you need and that people will attend once you have the building.  You have to have people of faith on this leadership team, too, or the doubters will sabotage the ‘building’ efforts.  There are people who like to specialize in ‘tearing down’ with their negative attitudes, so beware.  At the same time, you have to be somewhat cautious (for example, not being so gung-ho as to think you could raise a few millions dollars for such a project).

At a recent interfaith event I was at, we were talking to the Muslim’s about their building.  They bought an old restaurant (Silver Dollar Pizza) and appear to be renovating it over a long time.  First they got it usable right away with some useful rooms, then they take their time on some of the less urgent things, such as external paint and appearance.  That seems like a prudent approach.  Before that, they bought a house, renovated it for their needs (they need a large room for group praying), and met at it for quite some time.

I remember a number of years ago I attended a church that was newly built.  The congregation was very small.  Later, the building was sold and the church was out.  They bit-off more than they could chew.  That is now the hospital clinic that is on NW 185th/Cornell.  These people had too much faith and hope for their own good… they lost it all.

...Bernie

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Posted: 02 May 2010 06:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Another idea if you wanted to have a building with a secondary principle of benefiting the community… how about getting a building in a run-down neighborhood.  It would help revitalize the neighborhood.  But on the minus side it could feel more dangerous and you’d need to pay a little more for surveillance.  I’m thinking of some run-down areas in NE Portland, for example.

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Posted: 02 May 2010 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I’m intrigued, and cautious, about taking on a physical presence for our local chapter. I’m listening to points of view on this, as it could be worthwhile or a hindrance to accomplishing other goals. If I venture a little way out into accepting a physical presence, one idea that seems worth exploring (depending upon what we’re trying to accomplish) is owning a small, modular, modern, movable structure, such as the Loft Cube:

http://www.loftcube.net/

The structure, undelivered, without property, un-accessorized, is $139k. I think that comes with windows and floor elements in place, but it requires much more research. I’ll entertain the idea here knowing full well that that are a lot of factors that could scuttle this particular option. The point is to open up discussion about owning a similar structure. Among such structures, the LoftCube is one of the more expensive, but also one of the nicer, more presentable ones.

If a LoftCube were otherwise viable, we could (theoretically) move our center physically from one place to another and grow it module by module as we grow.

There are a number of places that are making such structures now, and which of these if any are affordable to any obtainable budget I don’t know.  If we attract some donors that would be willing to offer up, say, the use of property in place of monetary contributions, we could have a lot or a building that our movable office space could rest on. Also, a physical center need not be “the center” of all operations everywhere. You could have one of these in Portland, one in Seattle, one in Bend, etc as resources became available. Any of these could grow on an as-needed, space-available-basis. A first module could be used as, for example, office space. Another could be linked for meeting space, another for overnight stays by visiting speakers or VIPs. It would be up to us, so long as there was space to grow. These units also have an attractive, modern presentation and a small footprint.

Again, there’s also a lot of research that would need to be done for this or similar units. Many costs could quickly sneak up on you I think, some obvious and some not. For instance, what are your options for accessorizing a particular pre-fab? Are there built-in design limits? Surely there are similar considerations that are strictly practical, such as limitations based upon size of windows, toilets, etc, and what the structure can physically allow. Are we locked in buying these from the original manufacturer? Maybe yes, maybe no: we’d need to find out. Such matters aside, we’d own the structure outright, which has some upside in terms of limiting long-term cost and being our own tenants. A few trips to Ikea, some donated goods and we’d could be in business. Also, knowing we’d be able to own such movable space would be a draw for some donors who would be interested in helping us get up and running quickly.

There are similar pre-fab options elsewhere, and lists of pre-fabs:

Here’s one Oregon-based maker of a prefab structure that might be employed as office space:
http://www.ideabox.us/models.html

And some other possible options:

http://www.sustain.ca/models/commercial-institutional/
http://prefabcosm.com/home/Ecospace/
http://www.versadome.com/index.html

A larger list of such structures is here:
http://www.fabprefab.com/fabfiles/fablisthome.htm

Again, I’m sure there are many strikes against such a solution, but I wanted to make sure it gets into the mix.

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Posted: 02 May 2010 10:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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RyanSantos - 02 May 2010 09:00 AM

A central location near public transportation seems ideal. I really like the church idea assuming we can avoid unkind confrontations. It makes a great deal of sense to find a place that is already outfitted but remains vacant for several days each week. A larger and more flexible space will naturally hatch more elaborate and successful events.

I think consideration for future growth must be paramount as well. If some sort of substantial investment is made it should take into consideration what the organizations needs might be several years from now.

Great point Ryan. I’m unsure if the solution I proposed would work, but I had something similar in mind.

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