Group of first graders cheer after laying a nice thick layer of straw mulch on beds in the perennial garden to protect the soil until the spring. Photo: School Garden Project
With the season coming to a close and just two more months of our senior fellowship many of us have been looking towards January with that mix of excitement and anxiety that colors most any transition, that and the unavoidable question, what next?
To get the ideas flowing we headed to the Staunton Makerspace for a workshop with the space’s co-founder, Jim Rutt. Makerspaces are shared workshops where members have access to tools they can use to build almost anything they can imagine.
The Staunton space is home to range of tools for woodworking, electronics, and digital fabrication (computer controlled machines like a CNC router, 3D printer, and laser cutter) that support the creativity of the members and students who use the space.
After showing us around, we sat down with Jim to discuss how we might turn our passions, some based in learning from our time in AMI, into businesses. Jim offered tips from his wealth of experience as both an entrepreneur himself and as a mentor to others thinking of entering the startup world.
Here are a few take-aways from the discussion:
Our placements for our senior fellowships (Jan-Dec of this year) have exposed us to the inner-workings of nonprofits with a focus on food based programs. This workshop helped us envision how we might build businesses to address our goals for building community through food in the coming year or down the line.
We are not the only one’s envisioning what’s next, AMI is transitioning too. The organization will be bringing on new staff, building new infrastructure, and taking a year to reimagine its programs. While it means there won’t be fellows on the mountain next year, it’s encouraging to see the intention behind the organization’s actions to improve and grow. In the end, as Jim put it (quoting Eisenhower), “Plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”
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