Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get Organized

This post is about organizing your workspace on a budget. In my experience, us Small Business Development volunteers often work with groups (cooperatives, associations, individuals) who's work spaces are often dirty, disorganized, and even moldy. Some volunteers are able to secure grants to renovate work and showrooms, like this beautifully redone showroom in Ain Leuh that Randy has been working on.

This is a great option for towns and villages, even small ones, who see a good amount of traffic from tourists or locals willing to buy their products. But for some groups this isn't the case. They still need to keep finished projects clean for future craft fairs and know where to find their tools, but making it look super nice is not that important. So why not use what you have to get organized?

For the last two years I've cringed at my coops' "method" of organization. Basically, they have a big heavy desk with 4 missing drawers out of six where they keep everything from paperwork (which they have tons of) to crochet hooks and knitting needles, to embroidery thread, to pens, and so on and so on. Finished projects get "displayed" on tables along one wall where they gather dust and get grimy, while some of the new tools and materials that I've introduced in the last two years (paper making supplies, magazines, craft fair displays, etc.) have no home at all.

So on Tuesday, I decided to do something about it. I first had the idea of making a sort of peg board where they could hang tools from nails and have easy access to them. But when I was cleaning my house this Tuesday I decided to go a different route and use just stuff that I already had.

We had a very ugly, kinda rickety, bamboo shelf from the previous volunteer that became completely moldy before we even moved out of home stay. Though we tried multiple times to scrub it with bleach, we just couldn't keep the mold at bay. So it ended up living on our roof, exposed to all elements for about a year and a half until I finally decided that it was "weathered" enough and brought it back inside to use.

With the shelf as my base for the "organization station" I took some scraps of vinyl from the Marché Maroc banner and made shelf liners. We had a few plastic baskets that we don't really use, so I put one on the top shelf and filled it with empty glass food jars that the women can use to separate their new paper beads. Finally, I cut the tops off of four plastic bottles and secured the bottom cup-like containers to the bamboo frame to store things like the for mentioned crochet hooks, knitting needles, pens, rulers, scissors, etc.

It was really easy to make and got a lot of laughs when I took it to the Artisana, but it does the job so I don't really care what it looks like.

I want to show the members of the coop that it doesn't take a lot of money to get organized and I'd really like to see them come up with stuff like this on their own, but that might be a bit in the future.

If you are a volunteer facing an organization problem I urge you to try to find creative and inexpensive solutions.

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