Looking at 3rd Space with fresh eyes

2017 was a big year for 3rd Space. There was a café opening, a rebrand and we started opening on weekends. Then there was that whole cancer thing and juggling full-time work with solo-parenting three kids and the washing machine of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. 2018 has been a year of catching up and rediscovering the things that didn’t catch my eye properly in 2017. There was a point a few weeks ago where it all seemed overwhelming and I started to wonder if perhaps I had become stale.

In a passing conversation with one of our frontline team members, I asked “Do you think we make a difference?” She stopped and looked at me and said “You must be questioning whether you should still be here or you wouldn’t ask that. I can tell you story after story about how we change lives every day.” I left our chat thinking I had lost my mojo.

I recall that when I first started here I was brimming with ideas and most of them had to go into a place in my notebook that I called “the carpark” because I had no hope of having the time or the money to get to them. As I reflected on whether I could still add value to 3rd Space, I realised my carpark was empty. Not one aspirational thought. Me without hopes and dreams for what’s next is catastrophic for my team, our visitors and the organisation.

I’m still here. So, what’s changed? I found my fresh eyes again. It started with a 360-degree feedback tool I used to find out what was and wasn’t working about my leadership. I beat myself up for a while on the things I wasn’t doing well and then just sat with the feedback for a while to let it wash around. And then I had some wonderful interactions with inspiring people. A high-ranking police officer who isn’t afraid to upset the status quo because he believes in doing things a better way; an academic I discovered who articulates a social theory that resonates with what we do; a young entrepreneur making his own rules and using technology to help him fly; a volunteer who was in between jobs; a media personality who is grounded and humble; and a young man who sits outside my office every day, listening to music and in his words “just sitting here because it feels safe to me.”

We have a range of exciting projects simmering away in the carpark now. Some of them might take time and money and some will just take effort to rethink why we do what we do, what we are trying to achieve and how else we can get the outcome we want.

One of our recent projects relates to our footprint as an organisation. I noticed my team talking a lot about their efforts to live in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way and asked them if they wanted us to re-align 3rd Space to be more sustainable. The first response I got back was “I am literally peeing my pants with excitement!” So, in a few short weeks we have implemented a new recycling system, with a new waste-management provider, including specialist recycling for the hairnets and gloves we use in the café, cosmetics bottles and packages and expanded composting. Managing soft plastics and cigarette butts is on the way. It is a growing space and in fact, has been much easier to implement than we thought. And it’s saving us a little money too. As a community provider supporting people who are homeless, the 194 tonnes of waste we were sending to landfill each year didn’t sit right with us – as we were helping people at the cost of our planet. We care about all of it!

We have a wonderful charity dinner happening on 28 June 2018 at beautiful Bucci Restaurant and Bar in the Valley and as the MC for the night, I feel so glad I found my mojo again and can continue to find ways of telling the story of homelessness. Perhaps you would like to join us at our OneNightStand Against Homelessness? There are a few tickets left and we would love to see you – http://buytickets.at/3rdspacebrisbane/165865.

Sara
3rd Space CEO

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