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The VRI

Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House has been serving the local community for over 35 years. We deliver over 60 classes and over 500 people participate every week.

We have received requests to offer ‘hands on learning’ activities yet lack the space to provide them, so has resulted in this move. We have two new projects this year: The Latrobe Valley Community Shed and Digital Shed. Both projects focus on hands-on learning.

The VRI Hall along with its abandoned tennis courts offer the learning house crucial expansion space and improve the types of classes we can offer to the community. We involve local secondary schools in our projects and they are enjoying participating in the wider community. We have people who want to participate and are waiting for a venue.

Many local secondary school students not only enjoy contributing to the Latrobe community but are also keen to participate and tutor Learning House classes; it is now simply about providing a venue space.

The hall offers the opportunity for a range of ancillary and common areas, kitchens, gardens and stage areas for performances.

In terms of access, a footbridge allows easy entry for those arriving by train and there is plenty of parking for those arriving by car. It is located in the central CBD of Traralgon.

The VRI Hall is an exciting opportunity for the Traralgon Neighbourhood Learning House, not just in providing a space for classes to take place, but also reclaiming redundant infrastructure and transforming it into an effective learning environment that meets the particular, ad-hoc and flexible requirements for the Learning House classes; tinkering, recycling and making projects in an engaging, alive and imaginative setting.

We have funding for the Digital Shed project which is currently providing 1:1 support provided by volunteer students to members of the community on a drop in basis. We have also provided support to start up businesses in our area in basic online publishing and technology use.

We have a small grant to initiate a community garden on the tennis court area. We have crowdfunded for roof repairs to the building.

We have partnered with many local community organisations to harness both expertise and community involvement. Our organisation has many wonderful volunteers and we have received many offers from individuals (retired, unemployed, small businesses) to support the initiative.

The ongoing sustainability of this not for profit enterprise depends on a robust business model.

We intend to continue seeking grants and sponsorship, yet also hope to develop products and services that will allow sustainability. One of our partners OUTR is developing a prototype for indoor and outdoor furniture to be used in our new venue. This furniture will be constructed by students and volunteers participating in our programs and will be constructed from recycled materials. We hope to market these unique products.

We can cover basic costs through venue hire, fee for service courses and events.

I am project manager for these projects.

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Exercises:

In ten sentences or less, write down your business model.

List the assets you have or will acquire

We have a much loved, yet run down property located centrally to transport and the CBD, with low rent for 10 years, that provides a variety of spaces for many uses we have.

List the human resources you will contribute or hire

We have a well established existing community education facility with a solid reputation in the community. We have relationships with local schools, universities, businesses and government agencies. We expect these relationships will provide people who want activity and will volunteer time and resources to build an asset for the community.

We have agreements in place from a number of organisations to use our programs. We hope to expand to a community VCAL and will need to hire teachers and an administrative person.  

Describe who your customer is and what the customer gets from doing business from you

Our customers are; institutions seeking alternative programs for disengaged people in our community, people seeking to share skills, participate in the community, learn skills, make things and connect with others.

And finally, outline what part of this is hard, which part is unique, and how you're going to repeat it again and again.

We need to create systems for the stewardship of the building, an equitable way for people to use the resources and programs. We are borrowing from a number of community organisations in our models and also hope to develop more efficient ones using technology. 

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If you're a freelancer, write down precisely what you will do to:

  • Ensure a steady stream of work
  • Create an environment where you don't go crazy and melt
  • Consistently raise your prices, increase the quality of your work and generate a waiting list for your time (at the same time).

If you're an entrepreneur, write down how you will:

  • Relentlessly hire people to delegate work to
  • Give yourself a promotion so you are constantly doing work you're unable to hire anyone else to do
  • Build an organization that has the cash flow to permit you to do those two things...

I am currently a freelancer as a project manager. I spend a lot of time forming relationships both in person and online to build this community asset. I am working towards being a social entrepreneur and am actively seeking people to replace me in as many of the tasks as i can. I have built trust with the community and there are many relationships that currently need to be tended to myself, yet my intention is to create a self sustaining organisation that I can ultimately step away from.

Through building relationships with other organisations that have become as passionate about the project as I am, I believe that the 'ownership' of the project is become spread and expect this will support my intention to move away from the day to day participation once the place is established.

The nature of our business activity is training so I expect that we will be in a position over time to train and mentor people to fill the roles that will ensure the continued smooth operation of this venue.

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