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Construction Junction Speaks: Social Entrepreneurship Monthly Meetup

We'll have Executive Director Mike Gable from Construction Junction speaking at the next Social Entrepreneurship Meetup. If you don't already know about CJ, they salvage & sell building demolition waste with their Point Breeze-based warehouse and fleet of trucks. They also house a bicycle recycling workshop and a reuse store for smaller items like fabrics, paintings, books, art supplies, and other assorted knick-knacks.

It's safe to assume she'll be speaking about CJ's history; how it went from being more nonprofit, grant, and foundation-driven to more business-driven; how it operates today; specific facts and figures; etc.--essentially an update on the Summer 2009 profile, Urban Renewal: "...Construction Junction customers [...] make more than 24,000 individual purchases a year. These do-it-yourselfers, artists and small building contractors enable the environmental nonprofit to annually divert 720 tons of used, but usable, building materials from landfills and cover its operating budget with revenue generated from those sales. [In 2008, they made] $1 million in sales against expenses of $955,000, which included payroll costs for its 19 full-time employees."

And we'll have plenty of time for QA during & after, and time for networking & conversation due to the informal style of open space meetings. :)

Here's the previous meetup photo & some description of what we did there:

2nd Tuesdays, 7-9:30pm; Revv Oakland, 122 Meyran Ave. Oakland, PGH; Use the Meyran Ave. entrance to the right of the frozen yogurt place, and walk up the stairs and to the left; Hosted by TransitionPGH

[Some details are fixed like starting time: but the format/agenda may change as we add speakers and such!]

Description: This is a meetup for Transitioners, social entrepreneurs and regular entrepreneurs alike to network, discuss their ideas, and even start planning projects together in the Revv'sgraciously-donated meeting space! We’ll run this Open Space-style (agenda, tentative, below) with short introductions moving quickly into breakout groups.

More detail: Pittsburgh has far too many social businesses, non-loss nonprofits, and community organizing success stories not to talk about them—Construction Junction'ssalvaged building material warehouse, Stormworks' rain barrels, GTECH's vacant land reclamation, GrowPGH'surban farming, the Larimer neighborhood'sbid for $30-million-plus in federal and local grants, the Environmental Finance Collaborative’s 4-organization split CFO, and all sorts of new ventures will all be up for discussion here.

International successes like Grameen Bank and books likeReinventing Fire & Natural Capitalism are welcome discussion topics, too!

Expect a repeating event which we can improve if you give us your opinion on what’s working and what to change. I hope to get a balanced mix of successful entrepreneurs, first-time entrepreneurs, idea people, and so on, from all backgrounds: corporate offices, nonprofit, neighborhood activist, academics, new-age hippie farmers, and whatever else. (If this event proves to be a success, I will try to get speakers from such places (who have told me they’re willing!) on 2nd Tuesdays or other dates.)

Agenda for the Open Space meeting (tentative, 7:00pm to 9:00pm):

6:30pm: Arrival; setting up chairs, people start to come

7:00pm: Intro by TransitionPGH & review of upcoming events

7:10pm: Timed introductions of everyone in the room (less than 30 seconds for sure, hopefully 10 seconds)

7:30pm: Prepare for breakout groups—if people want to discuss a specific topic or plan a specific project, they should raise their hands and say what it is!

7:40pm to, at latest, 8:40pm: Breakout groups discuss topics! (People will be free to just wander and network, but indeed, some groups will have focused discussions or planning.) (Law of Two Feet: move on if you don’t feel like you’re learning or contributing!)

8:40pm: We reconvene and briefly review what was said in each group, so that we walk away with some information & perspective on everything going on in Pittsburgh, not just our topic of interest.

9:00pm (we clear out by 9:30 at the latest): The meeting ends and we all put away our own chairs.

Later, if project ideas or business ideas come up that need more discussion, post a description to (where, if your idea has traction, it will be announced to the whole group) or the Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs Meetup. Before or after that we can at least give you contact info to set up more meetups at local libraries, universities, churches, and (hopefully!) the Revv.

Why TransitionPGH supports social entrepreneurship: Partly because authors of books like Natural Capitalism and Climate Capitalism make the case that we're at the start of a new Sustainability-Industrial Revolution, where those who stand to make the most bottom-line profit are those who act like they're terrified of climate change & ecological collapse (regardless of what they believe). TPGH backs this in our own neighborhoods through networking events, films, speakers, classes, and more, trying to connect as many people to businesses and practical initiatives as possible. Supporting social entrepreneurship is a stepping-stone to our ultimate goal: a community-wide initiative in every neighborhood and town in and around Pittsburgh, striving to cut fossil fuel use as much as possible by relocalizing their economies as much as possible.

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  • Justin T.

    We ended up with 14 people total for a talk that I genuinely wish all of Pittsburgh could've seen. Mike, even not fully-prepared as he said upfront he was that day (quite a busy day for him) has so much to say about nonprofits, businesses, foundation grants, logistics, inventory-tracking, mission/vision stuff, organizational capacity-building, profit-generating, event-creating, partnerships, sponsorships, renting & subletting, and much more. Got really good feedback from the audience. Lots of audience participation--felt like a conversation.

    March 14, 2013

  • Elisa B.

    Fantastic that Mike Gable will be speaking tonight! Construction Junction has been a TREMENDOUS resource for us at Schwartz Living Market to fulfill our Living Building Challenge project! Join us to thank CJ and all of the others that have been helping and continue to help with our process on Thursday evening, April 4, 2013, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM! Go to for details.

    I wish I could be there tonight! Elisa Beck, Schwartz Living Market: A Project of 1317 East Carson Street :)

    March 12, 2013

  • Justin T.

    Yep, it's confirmed. We've got CJ Executive Director Mike Gable speaking. :)

    March 11, 2013

  • Justin T.

    Just got word that Mike Gable (the Executive Director!) rather than Natalie DeRiso might be joining us. I'll follow up if I can confirm it.

    March 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Sorry, a conflict that night.

    March 6, 2013

  • Justin T.

    Turned out Mark will have to be in Florida that day--so it goes. Hopefully will have him in May. So I'm going to go for the gusto and just try to get some speakers I had planned to try to get later.

    February 19, 2013

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