The S.A.B. Center is still a small non-profit, but with big projects because the challenges are equally sizable. The damages contractors, architects and developers may inflict to the society through their work is insidious. At first glance, everything seams all right, and then, with time, we start to witness chaos. Sawmills closing, rural schools closing, counties starting to become poorer and even in the cities, the little things of life becoming insurmountable. Who would have thought that people, in America, could become homeless because of medical bills. Who would have thought that people, in America, would be segregated because of “luck”, “bad luck”, moments in life when people fall down.
I was born Christian and raised as a laic, but I grew up in Tours, the former “Vatican” of France where Grégoire de Tours, Saint Martin de Tours, and even Leonardo dal Vinci have lived and left tremendous pieces of humanity to the world among other poets, philosophers and scientists. After the French Revolution of 1789, social Christianism has replaced the traditional class system. The new era entitled the Church with a role to promote kindness and empathy, to raise human beings capable of self examination to control appetite and desire of achieving one self without the others. We call it social responsibility, being a father, a mother, a sister to the community.
As an architect, I evolved on my roots and I bear the fruits of my culture, being an architect for the people. French law does not recognize the social responsibility of architects but American law does. The AIA does, but it does not enforce it. It does not even tell how and how far social responsibility shall go. Everyday, we can witness social chaos, poverty, homelessness and despair, but never the mechanism that led to the chaos, because they are insidious, impalpable, difficult to analyse. This difficulty, the S.A.B. Center made it a statement to comprehend.
As a non-profit, we gather people and we need a place to gather them freely, all the time, not only when we decide to gather them, but rather when they feel committed to the task of participating our projects. That’s when the need for headquarters became an urgent necessity to prioritize our goals to research and to inform. Our goal is also to make money with certain ways that involve the community. Religious Map is the main source of income of the non-profit and this is not enough. That’s where headquarters must help in providing more and more often.
I found a land 11000 sqf in Pasadena from which I started to draft a headquarters project with a darkroom to involve photographers, with a restaurant to organize gatherings, with exhibit walls and panels to promote our work with posters, with a makerspace and a wood workshop to build prototypes, training areas to share experience and roof gardens.
Each part of the project became a “box” with which we can decompose the project into small prototypes and each prototype into a specific budget. With each budget, we can decompose again into materials and skills from which we can raise the funds to buy materials and give classes to gather the skills.
Each budget was established according to the surface and a cost of $182/sqf (1800€/m²). From this budget, we can design a roadmap in order to raise our funds. For example, one photography printed on photographic paper and sold must pay one square foot, and from there, we can target the kind of products we want to develop and sell in order to achieve our program. We have 2374 sqf to build, what means 2374 photographies or products to sell. From there, we can establish a task force of volunteers and work together to achieve the goals.
Isolating each “box” from the rest of the project gives us the possibility to work on them as a prototype. One prototype built with softwoods, another prototype built with hardwoods, each of them having variations in technologies such the connectors, the insulation, the finition inside and outside. Each prototype becomes a way to approach professional companies and involve them in our process by comparing prices and methods of production. Each prototype becomes also a subject from which we can develop a methodology and expose them to the public in order to explain the results of our studies. Each prototype is a tangible product that visitors can visit and monitor. Each prototype is also a way to bring innovation, test it and patent it. Each prototype becomes potentially an industrial solution to create jobs and ressources.
The project has slightly evolved as we spoke about it, adding more “artist’s studios” in the way, adding also a stronger capacity to secure each investment we make in time and money. Adding also a waiting list for people willing to live there and participate in the efforts of achieving our goals. Our biggest challenge now is to secure our land and secure our time to work on the project. For this reason, we had to prioritize our funds raising. The first priority is to secure one year rent before anything else, make sure we can focus on the development and make sure we have it.
The land is a rental, unfortunately. It belongs to a developer who bought it in July 2022 and not willing to sell. The terms of the rental are 3 years contract to renew one time and the possibility for extra extension of the lease. When I met the developer, I asked for a 7 years lease which is enough time to build, develop and raise money for the next project of buying a land. The other option is to change land in a different area with a rent to own contract. I found several lands available in Los Angeles with a minimum surface of 11000sqf. What ever the decision we make on the land, everything starts with our capacity to pay one year rent in advance.
One year rent in Pasadena would cost $52,800. We think that this amount would be enough to find a rent to own agreement on any other kind of property if we could not make it in Pasadena. To raise the funds, we need to find 111 families or companies willing to donate $500 dollars each. For the size of the non-profit, this is something achievable. We also developed different levels of membership from $35/month to $2,500/month in order to involve and commit our sponsors. To achieve our goal with a budget of $52,800, we need to find 1,509 new members at $35/month each, or 111 members willing to pay 15 months in advance at the monthly cost of $35/month. Here again, this is achievable. From there, we can design our roadmap of events and activities.
Memberships are collected through our Paypal platform. Donations are collected through Square. Square is cheaper than Paypal, so we encourage donations for people who are not really willing to become members. We also favor offline donations such cash and checks that we can deposit to our bank account and for which we do not pay fees. When ever you decide to support the acquisition of the land or any other project, we recommend that you file the form to announce your kind payment.
To achieve our goal of raising the funds for the land, we need ambassadors, people who will come along with us to take a stand and advertise. For this, we are launching a press release campaign in order to give interviews and publish articles in local and national news papers. If you are willing to follow up our progress, you can register as a member in order to receive our newsletters. Each category of member have their dedicated newsletters.
In advanced, we thank you for your support and I particularly thank you to join me in this adventure. I encourage you to read the blog and learn more about our activities. By participating our outings and guided tours, you can help in achieving our goals by bringing friends to support us. The more people we gather, the easiest will be our tasks to move forward faster. Lastly, if you are a developer and you read this, if you have a land available for us, please contact us with a proposal. We will study every offer.
Thank you to come along our journey and see you soon at our live events.