Whenever the leaves start changing colors, and the temperature drops just slightly, I am reminded of my mother. This may well be because her birthday is in September. It could also be my vivid memories of waking up early to go with her to the International Balloon Fiesta every October. Perhaps it’s because of our autumn hikes up the La Luz trail to Sandia Peak amongst a thick sea of bright yellow aspen leaves. It could be her infamous pumpkin bread, or her annual Pumpkin Parties (which I plan to bring to Brooklyn this year). For me, fall is synonymous with Mom and all of the wonderful lessons I have learned from her. It is because of this that I have chosen to honor my mother with a series of blog posts where I impart some of her wisdom.
Most have heard of Spring Cleaning, the age-old tradition of cleaning your home and reorganizing your life at the end of the winter months. It’s aligned with what many cultures and religious practices believe to be the new year. Many Persians practice something called “khooneh-tekouni” which means “shaking the house” where they thoroughly clean their entire homes top to bottom at the beginning of their new year. An ancient Jewish practice involves cleaning the home in anticipation of Passover and so on and so forth (source). Spring Cleaning is deeply rooted in our culture and lexicon regardless of whether you or your family practiced this at all. While my mother prefers to keep her home spic and span regardless of the time of year, our annual deep clean always happened in the fall.
Before writing this, I gave my mom a call (hey everyone- call your mothers!) to ask her if there was any significance to why our family always did our Spring Cleaning months after the fact. She… well she had no recollection of ever calling it “Fall Cleaning” but the fact remains that it is something that I remember as if it were yesterday. Clearly this annual family cleaning party had more significance to me than to her (as previously mentioned, my mother takes a lot of pride in her home and it essentially always looks ready to be featured in a design magazine) she did have some theories as to why we chose autumn to reorganize and dust off the baseboards.
It “Feels” like the New Year
My mother has two children, my older sister and me. Which means that regardless of the calendar year, the school-year eventually winds up dictating the structure of your life. Growing children require you to buy new clothes every season, because last year’s sweaters are now short in the arms, and their rainboots no longer fit their feet. An entire year has passed since we got that one toy, and we haven’t played with it in months. Fall seems like the perfect time to do a complete and total overhaul of your closets and toy chests.
Fall Cleaning for us would always start in our bedrooms. I’d go through all of my clothes and toys. The clothes that don’t fit, or that I know I will never wear again, along with my forgotten toys, all went to a donation bin so that other children could use them. Whatever I kept would be organized, and all the new space that I made would be vacuumed, dusted and put away neatly. As an adult, I’ve maintained this practice. Every fall, when I take down the bin of fall/winter clothes, I go through them and make sure they meet two criteria. First, do they still fit? I may not be growing anymore, but my weight does fluctuate. Sure, sometimes it’s good to keep a “goal” dress, but a whole closet full of them? No, thank you. I’ll wind up in stretchy pants all winter. Second, do I still like them? It’s been a whole year and some fads just don’t last. Everything that passes the test gets to stay in my closet, the rest get donated.
This is a good time to go through your spring/summer clothes as well before packing them away for the colder months. How did that $10 sun dress hold up? If it looks a little wrecked now, it won’t look any better next year. Bye!
If you have kids, fall cleaning is a good habit to get into because it can teach them to declutter, the value of minimizing, and how great it feels to help others. There are plenty of kids and families that need your hand-me-downs way more than you need to hold onto them for the sentimental value.
One way that you can use this model in your everyday life, and to make fall/spring cleaning less daunting, try this tip: When you bring home something new, donate something old. (This is especially helpful if you are someone who enjoys shopping.) My boyfriend and I did this recently when he came home with three new pairs of jeans. His pants drawer was bursting, so we went through all of his jeans and were able to toss five pairs in the donation pile.
The Value of a Clean Home
When I was a kid, I thought my mom was nuts. I’d come home from school and as soon as I walked in the door I had kicked my shoes off, dropped my coat and backpack on the floor, and usually ran to the kitchen to fix myself a snack. All of this left behind a tornado of mess. When my mother came home from work, I always had to get up from the couch and clean it up before I could go back to my homework or Nickelodeon. I thought she was being unnecessarily hard on me. Like, come on Mom! I was in school ALL DAY and now you want me to CLEAN? Can’t a girl catch a break? But the truth is that there is science behind this.
Studies have shown that clutter and materialism leads to stress and anxiety (source). The more stuff we have, the more anxious, depressed, and joyless we feel. It’s highly likely that my mother’s reaction to my whirlwind after-school routine was a reflection of this. I’ve personally found, in my adult life, that I feel more at ease when my home is clean. If I walk into my kitchen and it looks a mess, I make it a point to tidy whether the mess was mine or not. I don’t think ill of my three roommates, I personally find satisfaction from taking care of the mess.
The positive mental impacts of a clean home far outweigh the benefits of sitting around in a pile of junk. One University of California study showed a significant uptick in the stress hormone cortisol in women who described their homes as messy (source). Not to mention that just 10 minutes of light aerobic exercise (like cleaning) can trigger the release of endocannabinoids, your body’s own naturally synthesized version of THC. Endocannabinoids literally make you feel calmer. Deep cleaning your home for hours - or even just 10 minutes- can trigger this response in your body, much the same as going for a walk or jog. (source).
Clearly, my mother is onto something. She taught me to pick up after myself, clean as I go, and take time to reorganize and minimize at least once a year. All practices linked to strong mental health. And now that the new school year is in full swing, if you haven’t already done so- why not take a cue from my momma and give your house a full shake down? You’ll feel great.
Members, Friends, Partners, and Colleagues:
When we started Brooklyn Creative League almost a decade ago, our vision was to create both the physical space and the professional community that was missing from our work lives. We also set out to build a different kind of company: a for-profit business whose economic value was rooted in community, collaboration, and mutual benefit. A company that embodied our conviction that we’re all better off when we’re ALL better off.
Almost ten years later, we can say with pride and gratitude that we have achieved that vision--and in many ways surpassed it. One of the most surprising and rewarding facets of this journey has been the amazing people we’ve met along the way. Whether you are a friend, colleague, or acquaintance, we can say unequivocally that BCL is the special place it is because of you, our members. Thank you, thank you, thank you for helping to make our vision a reality.
It is our sincere hope that you and your fellow BCL members will play an even bigger role in the next phase of BCL’s growth. We are thrilled to announce the roll out of BCL’s Business Vision 2027, an audacious 10-year plan that will transform BCL from being one of many coworking spaces in an increasingly corporate industry into something truly unique: a foundry for community capitalism--successful, sustainable, community-minded businesses that balance private profits with the public good. Using our core coworking business as a launchpad, we will develop an enterprise network of at least five new coworking spaces and three new complementary businesses. Together, these enterprises will combine social and financial capital to create economic value for our members, investors, employees, partners, and local communities. By 2027, BCL and its members will generate at least $120,000,000 in annual revenue, creating a significant multiplier effect for neighborhoods with BCL locations. Through mentorships, community fellowships, and charitable giving, BCL and its members will generate $2,000,000 annually in grants, social investments, and pro-bono services to support our local communities.
Business Vision 2027: At a Glance
At least five new locations by 2027.
A foundry for community capitalism: sustainable, profitable, community-minded businesses.
BCL locations as a driver of equitable neighborhood development through: community and worker ownership; expanded charitable giving; community fellowships; and internships
How BCL Members Can Benefit
As members of the BCL Fellowship support network
As models of community capitalism themselves
Continuing to support BCL through continued membership, referrals, peer-to-peer support, investing and supporting other community capitalist businesses working at BCL
As we embark on this next phase in BCL’s evolution, I wanted to say a few words about how we plan to grow, because the means are intimately tied to the ends. As you’re probably aware, coworking has become an extremely hot industry over the past five years. Fueled by WeWork’s $20 billion valuation, money has flooded into the sector, and we’re now seeing a glut of corporate coworking spaces all fighting to become the next WeWork. If we wanted to, we could easily turn to traditional investors, as many of our competitors have done. If you want to scale fast and have a shot at making big money, that’s the way to go. But corporate coworking comes with lots of strings attached: a relentless focus on growth over community; pressure to maximize investor returns (by extracting evermore revenue from members); and economies of scale that undermine the relationships, culture, and community that are coworking’s lifeblood.
But here’s the principal reason we’re eschewing traditional investors: We want to create a model for sustainable growth through direct ownership. As the founders and sole shareholders, Erin and I have demonstrated that we can run a profitable, first-rate coworking business by sticking to our business principles and focusing on the long-view: building and running extraordinary coworking spaces; cultivating authentic professional communities; and delivering excellent customer service. As we open the door to outside investors, we are committed to sharing investment opportunities with a broad range of non-traditional investors, including BCL members, employees, local neighborhood residents, and mission-aligned individuals and institutions. We are convinced that these investors--far more than venture capitalists or real estate funds--understand BCL’s fundamental value proposition: that our business, structured thoughtfully and managed with integrity, can generate solid financial returns for investors, while also strengthening communities and creating a more resilient and equitable economy.
We encourage you to read the full vision (it’s a 5 minute read). And we hope that you’ll consider joining us as a member, investor, and partner as we move into this next phase of BCL’s growth. Thank you for your membership and support.
Neil Carlson & Erin Carney
Podcast Junkie is a podcast highlight by Brooklyn writer, scholar, and creative, Brittany Bellinger. Check back here for a new Podcast to help you through the work day or power you through that workout. Join me as we dive into the world of culture, entertainment, politics, and more through our headphones.
John Tebeau, the artist behind Great Good Places- a series of drawings of great local bars around NYC (book forthcoming in the spring!) launched his art show in the BCL Lounge last Thursday evening. Our members joined John in this celebration of beloved bars and dives around town. Members in attendance chose their favorite pieces, and John shared his stories and experiences from each place. We're honored and thrilled to showcase his work for the next few months. If you're in our space, enjoy the art!
One piece in particular stood out to two of our members. A drawing of Ruby's in Coney Island. Eric Safyan and Kevin Kehler are two architects who redesigned Ruby's after it was damaged in Hurricane Sandy.
Check out John Tebeau here!
by Jenni Walkowiak
It’s hot outside, and your kids are getting antsy. You could head down to Coney Island or skip over to Rockaway beach, but sometimes that requires more planning and energy that you can muster on days where you’re too hot to function. Thankfully, New York City is full of splash parks and fountains where you and your little ones can cool off and have fun doing it! Just pack a swimsuit, water shoes, and a towel (and don’t forget sunscreen!) Here are three of them, right here in Brooklyn.
The Waterlab at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6
Beautiful views and so much more to do than just get wet, the Waterlab at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 6 features a water-jet field that will be sure to keep the kids entertained for hours. Dry off in the Sandbox village nearby!
The Splash Pad at the LeFrak Center Prospect Park Lakeside
In the wintertime, the Splash Pad is a second ice-skating rink in the heart of Prospect Park. But when the sun comes out in the summer, the splash pad is the place to be for kids under 12 and their caregivers/families. It’s exactly as it sounds, a designated area of the park with water jets that you and your kiddos can run around in.
J.J. Byrne Playground in Washington Park, Park Slope
Right next to the Old Stone House in Washington Park, the J.J. Byrne playground has a colonial theme and parts of the playground were designed by a local artist. The park is equipped with water canons, sprinklers, and other fun water activities. After you dry off, you’re in a family friendly neighborhood with great restaurants and shops that can easily eat a whole day with your kids.