Spark highlights of 2016

Spark has come a long way in 2016. There are now 4 people on staff with 25 volunteer Leads overseeing the various workstations that make up Spark as a community-run workshop and learning center enjoyed by over 100 Members from throughout southeastern CT.

Below are some of the highlights of 2016 following the seasons:

Winter

Spring

  • City of New London became the first institutional member of Spark!

  • The ReInspire group yarn bombed Golden St.

  • New London Public Schools donated all of its wood shop equipment to Spark

Summer

  • Built a new compost system at the FRESH urban farm

  • Renewed Partner contract with CT Next for $50,000 to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeastern CT

  • Hannah Gant visited the White House for the first Nation of Makers convening

  • Threw an awesome Summer Melt party to celebrate the end of a hot summer!

Fall

  • Spark Emporium opens at 13 Golden St. with average monthly sales for the fall over $500 per month! Many Working Members are now "above water" on their monthly membership payment because of their sales in the retail outlet!!
  • Took leadership of the Thames River Innovation Places initiative and helped raise nearly $80,000 to initiate a Story of Place for the mouth of the Thames River

  • The ReInspire group made and collected over 60 bags for guests at the Homeless Hospitality Center

  • The AV Club group decorated the Hygienic Art Park for the Halloween Party

  • The Electronics and Tech group produced the Thames River Hackathon, with a winning team comprised of two 8th graders from the ISAAC school

Thank you to all who played a role this year in which so much groundwork was laid to make it easier and more fun to make things and make things happen on your own or with a group of awesome people!

Perhaps the most exciting recent news is that the Spark Kitchen just got a new grease trap so we expect a feature of early 2017 to be the development of programming that includes cooking classes, community meals like a weekend brunch, and more small businesses getting jumpstarted. Oh yeah, and maybe a food truck!?!

In addition to more classes in 2017 Spark expects to formalize membership for entities, what we are calling Collaborative Members. Part of this plan includes developing more earned income programming through increasing hours at the Spark Emporium, the development of a Community Supported Arts subscription program for people to pre-purchase “fresh art,” a commission program we are calling the Spark Concierge, and initiating contract work such as screen printing t-shirts and getting hired to fix stuff in the shop.

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  • commented 2017-01-02 14:51:55 -0500
    You guys are awesome! Keep up the great work! YaDiGGiT Urban Art Gallery www.yadiggit.com

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