Friday, March 19, 2010

New page for Save the Dragon

Hello all

This page is no longer in use. The new page is:


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Save the Dragon Update #1

Hello Friends,

Apologies for the lateness of this update, and many thanks to everyone
who came out to the meeting held last Sunday at the Sky Dragon
Centre.  Your concern, passion, emotion and ideas were invaluable, and
the meeting went a long way toward buoying the spirits of Coop members
and supporters.  Thanks also to all those people who have phoned and
emailed with suggested solutions and offers of support.  These
communications have been warmly received, and every suggestion is
being considered in turn (there’s a lot of them!).

The situation as it stands is that the Coop is still looking for a
first mortgage, in the amount of $270,000.  In addition, the Coop
needs help with some expenses concerning building appraisal, legal and
accounting fees.  The deadline for Teacher’s pulling the mortgage
remains April 18th, which is a tight timeline.

Presented at the meeting on Sunday was the idea that the Coop needs to
undergo structural changes in order to ensure its long-term financial
viability, to improve its effectiveness, and to better involve the
community.  These changes involve modifying the Coop model and opening
it up to different stakeholder groups, including community members and
partner organizations.  This process will take months to complete, but
it needs to start now.

The most significant next step in the campaign will be a larger, more
structured community meeting.  At this meeting, the Coop’s vision and
operating history will be presented in detail, along with the
structural challenges it has faced and continues to face. Coop board
members will explain the various aspects of the Sky Dragon project,
and reveal a plan for its renewal, growth and sustainability.  Most
importantly, community members will be asked to contribute their ideas
and to help the board collectively generate solutions.

Immediately, the Save the Dragon Campaign could use the following

1) A $270,000 first mortgage (provided by one person, ten people, 20
people, etc….)

2) Pro-bono legal and accounting help

3) Financial Donations (we will be confirming their status for
charitable receipts shortly)

4) Help putting up posters and handing out flyers for the Community

5) Help disseminating update emails

6) Volunteer help for upcoming events, including the May 1st Mayday
Festival, the April 17th & 19th Halton Eco-Fest, and other Centre
projects as needed

7) Tangible ways in which the Coop can be supported (know anyone who
wants to buy some locally roasted Fair Trade / Organic Coffee? ☺)

8) Becoming a member of the new Coop! (details TBA at the Community

If you are able to help with any of the above items, please don’t
hesitate to contact the Coop.  We will return your email or pone
message as quickly as we are able.

Right now some of the most important things you could do are to tell
as many people as you can about the event below, try to come out to it
yourself, or volunteer to help organize it. We need folks to help us
set up the event and promote it, artists to decorate it, musicians to
play at it, and volunteers to help it run…

Save the Dragon

Monday March 29
Ricca’s Furniture Building
228 James St. North, Hamilton

7 pm to 9 pm

Presentations by Sky Dragon boardmembers, community consultation, art, music, refreshments.  All are invited, all voices welcome.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Save the Sky Dragon

Hello Friends,

Well, this is the kind of message that’s never easy to send.  We here at the Sky Dragon Community Development Cooperative have worked with many of you, entertained many of you, inspired and been inspired by many of you, and pissed off a good chunk of you as well.  We don’t take the last point lightly, but in truth grassroots community development is a tough and gritty business, with inadequate resources, all-to-human protagonists, and intense pressures.  Despite all this, in eight years of the Coop’s existence there’s been a lot accomplished, and also lots left undone.

The Coop, and the community space it has sustained, the Sky Dragon Centre, are under substantial threat right now.  Our current mortgage-holder is no longer willing to finance the project, and we have until April 18th to find new financing to keep the centre open.  At stake is a first mortgage in the building the Coop owns at 27 King William St..  A refinance deal for $260,000 is what’s needed to keep the centre open, and its clear that no traditional financial institution (bank, credit union) will lend us the money.  In four years with our current financier we’ve never missed a mortgage payment.  In truth though, we have also scraped by month to month, and have had periods where we’ve been in the red.

In the face of this existential threat, our little Coop and the community centre it supports need to evolve.  The mud-puddle we’ve been swimming in is fast drying up, and its time to grow some feet and adapt to the changing circumstances.

In this sense, the Coop will change as well.  The project has always been bigger than the individuals involved, and today this is more true than ever.  What has been created is a unique animal – a centre that is open, radically inclusive of diversity, and yet explicitly committed to an agenda of peace, democracy, equality, human rights and political action/organizing.  It was a broad and engaged community that forged the character of this space, and if it is to continue, it must continue as a radically open, transparent, and broadly-supported project.  Always an agent of “the movement”, the Centre now needs to merge with it, fully and completely.

In order for this to happen, we need to find a way to Save the Dragon. This involves brave and committed citizens becoming investors.  This involves even more brave and committed citizens becoming members of a re-structured Coop.  We need these things, and unfortunately, we also need them fast.

For our part, it’s important to mention that the current Coop members aren’t flaky idealists who’ve bungled a good thing.  On our board are very serious, hard-working people with a fair amount of skill and business sense (and horse-sense!).  Without these qualities you don’t get a project like this off the ground and sustain it for five years in one of the worst economic climates in Canada.  This board is still active, has great ideas, and is committed to shepherding the Coop through its transformation into a financially viable, yet truly community-owned organization.  There is real value in the ethical businesses the Coop has incubated.  There is real value in the building we own. With your help, this value, and the collected progressive energy it represents, will not be squandered.

And so, we embark now on a community campaign that I hope you can participate in, even if in a small way.  To start, there will be a meeting at the Sky Dragon Centre this Sunday, March 14, at 7:30 pm.  At this meeting there will be a 100% frank and open discussion of the Centre’s predicament, and an equally frank and open exchange of ideas, strategies, criticisms, etc.  Everyone is welcome to attend, and all ideas are needed.

Of course, a meeting this Sunday is very short notice, so there will be a much larger “town hall”meeting in the next few weeks.  The date and time of the town hall will be announced first thing next week, and again, it will be a completely open session for all who want to attend.

How you can help right now is to forward this message as far and wide as you can, with apologies in advance for cross-postings.

On behalf of the board of the Sky Dragon Co-op, thank you all for your interest and support.  We’ve played our part in bringing the project to this point, now its up to all of us to take it to the next level…

Kevin MacKay, Executive Director