With any start up company you must make a few very important decisions right off. One of the hardest I have had to make was the decision to become a non-profit. I personally have never wanted to do non profit. Not because of the profit part, but due to government red tape. To me the more the government is involved the harder it has got to be. In my research it appears I am correct. To be a non-profit you must do several things. One you must file with the government and wait anywhere from 6 to 14 months for an answer. Two it has been highly recommended that I get an attorney to due it. That can cost anywhere from $100 to $800 or use the non-profit organizer in your town (often run through United Way). This can cost anywhere from $400 to $800. So I am at the cross roads of deciding which way to proceed.
Perhaps I should explain what my vision for the big picture is, that way people will understand my dilemma better. I live in a small town, population under 40,000. We also hold claim to the worlds largest walled prison at one time. Somewhere in the late 1970′ and early 80′s the town changed considerably.We had mostly manufacturing jobs here at one time. But do to globalization, nearly all are gone now. Technology has taken over and we have quite a quandary. One. the population decreased,due to people moving to were the work was. Two the prison did not leave and many people who had incarcerated spouses or other loved ones moved here. After a few decades we have an interesting mix of people. We have an ever increasing population of prison families.Meaning they are now sometimes generational.People are creatures of habit and often they learn by example. Let us say that you have a man convicted on a drug charge and spends several years in prison. He has children and when he returns home and can’t find work, because people hiring now can hire the cream of the crop. They are not interested in taking a chance with an ex convict. So he gets depressed and goes back to old ways. Often kids are dragged into an illegal business, because “hey you got to eat”. Or they go on welfare and it trickles down to the next generation.
So what is Cellblock Creations going for? We are working to help with any artist who can and is willing to make and create things for sale. By selling reproductions of their creations with the stories of how they made things in prison. We also wish to sell art kits like a build your own log cabin out of pencils and or others. These kits will come with the story and makes a great conversation opener to discuss the problems in our current prison system. It is our hope to not only give people a royalty on all work reproduced and made into products, such as tee shirts etc. We also want to sell any hand crafted items, where they get the bulk of the money for their pain staking effort.
Through this venture it has come to my attention that the whole company needs to be more. It needs to educate and open hearts and minds to how to work with the least of these in our society and not fear, but persevere! It is my personal experience that when I speak to people and tell the stories, that is what really sells the products. It also sells idea that we all need to help our town. We can not grow and bring business in, if we leave such a big issue unsolved. It is the desire of Cellblock to bring back self esteem and pride to this town that so many have deserted. There is a new serge of energy in the air and new people coming in due to the fact that our hospital is now a teaching hospital. So I feel the timing is perfect for this venture!
So in closing if we became a non profit we are eligible for donations which in turn would help in getting products produced as well as hiring more people to assemble kits and package, etc.
This is a huge undertaking for a person like myself. You see I grew up here and left for many years. I returned in 2000 with 4 children who immediatly went into culture show coming from the Chicago area. But we stayed and 2 children have gone back to Chicago and 2 have remained. There is a lot here to see and do. So if we can get jobs for people and improve the town and grow it we all win.
The above picture are butterflies made of toilet paper, file folders and bread ties. Beautiful! Sometimes we need to look deeper to find the beauty hidden.