Taking the scenic route


This is really not the right line of work for me. It plays into my fear of not being taken seriously, my completely depleted capacity to manage stress, and the overwhelming revolt I cannot suppress when facing any form of bureaucracy.

That being said, there’s really nothing else I can possibly do because, well, what needs to happen needs to happen. When Brick by Brick’s live-in community center starts setting up its food security initiatives, develops programming for young residents and frees up their mom’s time, and when we’re offering relevant learning opportunities free of charge to low-income people in the area, all of this agonising prep will be forgotten.

That’s one way of looking at it. But in this world everything that happens in time leaves an eternal mark. If I suffer now for tomorrow, then I will always live in convalescence. Perhaps I am starting to realise what it really means to appreciate the journey. The destination is not a real place; it is just a steering wheel. If you’re always looking at your steering wheel you will crash, fast. And here’s the kicker: if you know where you’re going but can focus on where you are, then you can step on the gas.

A lot of what I’m working on is the result of demands placed upon our organization by bankers, lawyers, and bureaucrats: people who are individually or institutionally averse to our vision. I need to remember that we are working on their level in order to attain our objective. If this road is too treacherous, I will take a detour because as far as I am concerned it does not lead to where I want to go. I really don’t mind the scenic route.

On that note: 

Shake what your mama gave you

Stress is a strange concept. In and of itself, stress is meaningless. It is simply the first layer of one’s relationship with a situation that puts into question our perception of the world. What I’m trying to say is that there is such a thing as good stress. Plenty in fact.

As in the romantic analogies that you are probably already thinking of, I was struck by visions of a complete life experience when the owner of a prospective building answered my call by asking how much I would be willing to pay.

“If you send me your revenue and expense figures I’ll run it by our accountant and get back to you with a ballpark number.”

It means nothing. He has two other partners anyway and the building is on the small side. There’s no reason to believe it could be viable. I would need to run it by the bankers and there’s just a whole lot to figure out. But I can’t sleep because I’m in love: the place is right next to the park and the pool, there’s ample room to build the community center, and it’s next to a coop.

So I’m stressed. What if they don’t want to sell? What if the place is in ruins? What if they’re getting offers left and right from developers looking to renovate and turn the residents over? How can we compete with them? Our costs are too high. We have no equity. We have no exit strategy. We have no experience. We have no institutional backing. We have nothing. We’re in WAY OVER OUR HEADS.

Faiz, stop. Remember what you learned from your friends at the “vanguards” conference: who are the owners? Who are you speaking to? Where are they coming from? What is their objective? What do you want to communicate and how are you going to make yourself understood to the people you are speaking to? If you want their attention, you gotta be smart an you gotta work it.

Shake what your mama gave you!

Our consultants at the "vanguards" competition this summer

Our consultants at the "vanguards" competition this summer


Welcome to the founder's blog! Our marketing coordinator Théo suggested that as the founder of this unique organization, I should blog about the trials and tribulations of building a community housing project from scratch. There is no way I can schedule enough time to recap the past year and a half for you, so you’ll just have to hop in while I go to my next meeting!

785 Ball Avenue. Our first attempt to secure a location failed. But now that I think of it, it's pretty small and needs a LOT of work. No regrets.

785 Ball Avenue. Our first attempt to secure a location failed. But now that I think of it, it's pretty small and needs a LOT of work. No regrets.

This week we are facing a big challenge. As we prepare to get on the SVX platform, I am starting to realize that we really need to nail down a site. Chicken, egg, chicken... egg!

We had begun the project with the intention of moving into 785 Ball Avenue. But things didn’t work out as planned because the owner of the building needed to sell fast. Fair enough, we had no money. After losing 2 buildings I decided to turn my attention to financing so that we would be prepared to buy when another property went up for sale.

But investors want to know precisely what it is that they’re investing in, so now we are faced with the HUGE challenge of looking for a suitable building that isn’t actually for sale and convincing the landlord to commit to selling while waiting a long time for us, amateur first-time buyers, to collect the required financing without a downpayment. Good luck me.