I’m a goal-oriented individual. I need to have a vision, a clear sense of the outcome I’m working towards. I’m also very process-oriented, so I’ve taught myself not to be too literal about those outcomes. Hold a goal too firmly, and you end up squishing it like Lenny and his beloved mouse.
This goal/process slam may seem like a contradiction to some people – but I prefer to think of it as an intersection.
You need a goal when you’re trying to get something done. But you can’t control outcomes, you can only control your inputs – so that’s where you need to put your real energy. I believe that if the process has integrity; the outcomes will have integrity – even if they weren’t the outcomes you wanted. In the words of the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes well you just might find You get what you need.
For five years, the Property Resource Team has been working to establish a portfolio approach to congregational redevelopment for the United Church in BC (specifically, redevelopments that would replace aging church buildings with a mixed-use facilities that feature housing and a multi-purpose church space).
We’ve made several attempts to find the kind of partner that could help us develop a portfolio of congregational properties. A partnership with a market developer got us started, redeveloping 3 of 6 sites with us – but they didn’t see an advantage in the portfolio approach, so we continued our search. A partnership with a small non-profit developer is working well as a one-off project, but it can’t be scaled to accommodate several of sites at one time. An attempt to partner with a large non-profit housing organization stalled after a year of negotiations.
We needed to change it up, and found a way to do that. We sought a financial partner, rather than a development partner.
Someone who would finance our venture, while we acted as our own developer. And someone who could take on more projects going forward (we started with three congregational sites, have since added a fourth, and have several more in the queue).
Our partner is BC Housing, they are serving as our lender and professional adviser.
In spring 2016, BC Housing provided BC Conference with a $3 million pre-development loan; along with a promissory note to finance the construction and secure the take-out financing for the portfolio. The total cost to complete the four projects currently within the portfolio is estimated at around $120 Million.
What a sense of relief and excitement it was to finally get to a place where our original vision has taken shape and a detailed plan is being executed. It has taken a lot of effort, time and money to get here. It happened because, among other things, a bunch of people trusted each other and kept working together through the ups and downs. We remained focused on our goal, despite setbacks, and stayed open to various ways and means of achieving it. We learned not to see these aspects of the process as contradictory, but as complementary, interconnected, and mutually beneficial.
For me it’s been an exercise of faith and action. A personal journey that relied on both spiritual practices and good business practices. Contradictory, perhaps, but these practices can and should understood as interdependent, reflecting the variegated and integrated nature of life. As the poet says, I am large, I contain multitudes.