Sign out front.

Front of House, garden etc.
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lucky
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Sign out front.

Postby lucky » Wed Jan 30, 2008 3:24 pm

I may have brought tis up before here...

The sign at the front of the Forest is cool, something we've had for ages. However, it's not really clear, and confuses a lot of people. I think it contributes to loosing potential people.

Is anyone happy to take action on this? I'll try make the Front of House meeting, but may not make it.

A*
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Postby Martin » Wed Jan 30, 2008 5:45 pm

I've always been kind of reluctant to bring that up because it is a really nice logo, but yeah, I don't think it works as a sign. It takes a while of looking at it to realise what it says.
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Postby chris » Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:23 pm

I think this is a very large point which has been discussed previously and would need to be discussed again, probably at a working group meeting. but it does raise some big questions. you write as though it has already been decided.

i feel the things that are more likely to contribute to losing people are:

toilets being horrible.
inconsistency of food quality.
appearing shabby, messy and dirty.
events being self-indulgent, and low quality. (obviously not all events)
being closed when we should be open.
it is no longer viewed as even slightly cool.
poor customer service.
private cliquey parties.

i think these are the real reasons, and find it a real shame that forest is unable to address some of these simple things.

Another larger problem is with the over ambitiousness of the intent of the project as a whole. it seems to me that people involved in forest take on too many ideas, and spread themselves too thin, being unable to do any of them consistently well. these things i think are systematic of not sharing a vision.

many logos and things of that nature are hard to read, but once you know them you will always know what it is, that is the beauty of this genius design.

additionally in the past we have often had sandwich boards, that clearly say forest and cafe and food and music and all that stuff on them, why not reintroduce this? that would be easier and better.

and it is true, that sign is about the only cool thing left, and the light in it doesn't work and no-one will fix it.
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Postby ravanwin » Wed Jan 30, 2008 6:57 pm

talking about being cool is uncool. I read this in GQ many years ago and therefore it is true.

further, being concerned about people's view of you / your projects is equally uncool.

doing things that you find fun rewarding or interesting is cool.
Being open and fearless of failure is cool.

doing boring things so that swine may behave like swine is uncool.

we spend too much time dealing with not fun things so that others may do fun things and often they do not do them as well as others, hypothetically, might. regardless, the idea would be to streamline all time-consuming and horrid administrative processes so that projects get funded more / quicker. We should spend money when it means things can get done well and quickly. Beware the false economy!

This, requires more management and less discussion in my opinion - something we are notoriously bad at.

Making shit fucked up in a good way is difficult but should be rewarded with many glorious accolades.

a sandwich board with things written on it would be good but i don't reckon we struggle for custom and i like the fact that we are harder to find than a mcdonald's. I mean, who are we trying to attract? Passing grannies? There's only a few shops on the road: a china shop, a falafal shop, napiers and a building site.

r
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Postby chris » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:07 pm

eh? which of my points are you addressing?

and i disagree, what people think of you is important, when the people you would like to attract, you repel.
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Postby Shannon » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:30 pm

I think you all suck.

Money is not the answer.

Use the sandwich board.

(And the light does work in the sign out front.)
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Postby swithun » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:32 pm

Chris is correct about quite a few things.

toilets being horrible.

They are but I don't think they are a deal breaker for many.

inconsistency of food quality.

This puts me off more.

appearing shabby, messy and dirty.

See toilets.

events being self-indulgent, and low quality. (obviously not all events)

Yes.

being closed when we should be open.

Much more of an issue for paying hall users than free internet moochers.

it is no longer viewed as even slightly cool.

Where do the cool kids go now? Can we go there and ruin it so they come back to us?

poor customer service.

The fuckers get what they deserve. I only started working here because I got sold an awful cup of coffee. If it puts people off then they have failed an important moral test. Thank you, come again.

private cliquey parties.

Yes.

We could try to be more professional in all these aspects, but that means pushing the volunteers harder to be cleaner and make nicer food, saying no to people wanting to put on crap events and finding new ways to enjoy ourselves. If we try this, things will get worse before they get better.
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Postby chris » Wed Jan 30, 2008 7:44 pm

some of these can be improved by spending money. others are more hard.
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Postby beev » Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:10 am

This seems like an excellent and overdue discussion. My stuff, for what it is worth:

The sign is cool.

Food inconsistencey puts me right off. I hardly ever eat at forest these days as it just seems too dangerous for someone with allergies. Unfortunately this one may never be fixed as volunteers are never going to be consistent. Simplifying the menu might help, though.

Private cliquey parties suck. For a long time forest avoided these. Something changed in the past year or so. Maybe it is to do with license restrictions, or maybe it is symptomatic of a more inward-looking, less inclusive forest. Either way, not good.

The false economy is bad. We should spend to make things easier and better. I'm starting to think that paying someone to come in and clean the place for a couple of hours each morning might be a good thing.

Poor customer service: vollies do their best in a difficult situation. I'd say the real problem is customers being shitty to us, not the other way around.
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Postby bill » Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:37 am

i like the sign. quite a lot.

i appreciate your points chris,
i think the cool thing really is bollocks. if we are doing things honestly and cool people are repelled then its simply their issue.over worrying about image can be a waste of time, especially as we have so little. i doubt there ever needs to be a unified image of forest, and for most people that interact with it it keeps changing.

the toliets are getting re done.

i don't know about food in forest. i am not that excited about eating here anymore, but often when i do i think that it is filling and nutricious and i like that it pays forest.

Being open and fearless of failure is cool.

doing boring things so that swine may behave like swine is uncool.

double agree.



we should have a week end away. again. you lot should get to greece?

we should talk about purpose and structure.
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Postby nix » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:45 pm

I agree with Bill.. a "whats the point?" meeting is due..

no, we are not overstretched.. just apathetic.

the logo is good.


the volunteer forces are out there, just we need to be open and possitive.

the food sucks. Sorry.


we are all working together. or at least we intend to. let's talk to eachothe and co-operate with each other? no?

PEACE and POSITIVITY!

what we are doing here is essential and valuable! lets not forget how important we are and do things right!
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Postby Gandhi » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:05 pm

Am i the only one who thinks the foods nice? Maybe its coz I don't eat at Forest much but I've never had a bad meal....apart from when people put raisins in the salad :x -THATS WRONG!!!
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Postby Jimmy Bastard » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:10 pm

whenever I hear the words peace and positivity I reach for my revolver.
also anyone within five yards of a bongo should be shot on sight with a ball of shit
more cliques.
divide and kreate.
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Postby Martin » Thu Jan 31, 2008 3:41 pm

This thread is turning out to be a really great read.
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Postby Gandhi » Thu Jan 31, 2008 4:33 pm

just imagining Dai reaching for a revolver is hilarious.
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Postby Shannon » Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:07 pm

no, we are not overstretched.. just apathetic.


Nope, definitely overstretched. I wish I had time to be apathetic. Obviously I don't speak for everyone, but I'd say that most of the people reading and writing this thread are working their asses off.

Is it the rest of the community that's apathetic? Maybe. But when we're taking stuff on, we have to think about the time and resources we already have, not just what we project having if we could only make them less apathetic.

Private cliquey parties suck.


I don't know what cliquey parties you're talking about. Volunteer parties? These have been incredibly successful in the past 6 months to a year, especially in creating a sense of community amongst volunteers, which is what they're there for, in my opinion. Open parties with munters to be kicked out and things to be responsible don't work the same way.

Dirt:

For the past six months or so the Forest grime has really been getting to me. It's not particularly new, but I see it everytime a walk into the building: hand prints on walls, dirty couches, worn out furniture, moldy flowers in vases, dirty windows... I don't think any of it is new, but it does seem magnified. And I don't think paying someone a couple of hours/week to clean it would get rid of the problem either. Maybe it is magnified because there is just more space to deal with? I don't know.

Food:

It is hit and miss. I think it has always been hit and miss. If you want it to be less so, come and help in the kitchen so we can have more consistency. It's fucking difficult to train a new volunteer, clean up the mess from last night, do the orders and make sure the vollie making sandwiches isn't making them inedible - all at the same time. If I could always supervise food preparation, I think the consistency and quality would be really good. It is more or less good depending on the quality and consistency of the volunteers we have.

It is also a problem of equipment. We are working in a very small, ill-equipped space. Counter space is at a premium. We're making big vats of curry on hot plates, with dull knives, and rice sitting in its cooker half the day. I had better kitchen facilities last summer in the middle of a field.

Something really needs to be done with the display fridge. The temporary casing Chris made was great in the short term, but now it looks like hell, wastes loads of energy, only gives us half the amount of space, is difficult to clean inside and generally makes things look less appealing. This isn't going to stop the food from sucking, but I reckon the better things look and feel in the space, the more likely it is that quality things will happen.

With all that said, let's not forget the good stuff when we're evaluating things. Most days I am still amazed that we exist and that we are great for being here. It isn't all about being cool and new and more and hip. So long as we continue to exist and to provide an alternative and a home for so many people, I do not think we've failed. Yeah, let's discuss and evaluate, but let's not forget the work that everyone is putting in and all of the amazing things it is producing.

Pep talk over.
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Postby Martin » Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:18 pm

With all that said, let's not forget the good stuff when we're evaluating things. Most days I am still amazed that we exist and that we are great for being here. It isn't all about being cool and new and more and hip. So long as we continue to exist and to provide an alternative and a home for so many people, I do not think we've failed. Yeah, let's discuss and evaluate, but let's not forget the work that everyone is putting in and all of the amazing things it is producing.


Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

People forget all of this and this is what bothers me every time people talk about taking the money and leaving the city. Edinburgh would be shit without the forest.
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Postby beev » Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:29 pm

And I don't think paying someone a couple of hours/week to clean it would get rid of the problem either.

Of course it would get rid of the problem. Maybe not so much in the kitchen, but everywhere else would be cleaned regularly (including the toilets), the recycling would be done, fresh water for the flowers and the furniture arranged neatly. The difference it would make is practically unimaginable. It would certainly helps to keep pests away.

As for the food, having a vollie staff army is always going to make it harder. That's inevitable. But if we had a better kitchen which was better designed it would probably make things a lot easier. We may not want to revamp our current one, but if we change buildings it might be something we should prioritise. Having the right space and equipment could make a lot of difference.
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Postby chris » Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:55 pm

suggestion, which solves some of the above problems:

spend some money on:

couches - second hand clean presentable couches, probably in the leather style, cos they are easy to wipe clean and they are much more rubbust/sturdy, we can probably pick up for around £50 each from the auction.

chairs - nice wooden ones, second hand, very cheap from auction.

tables - ditto.

repaint the wooden floors - but using a dark outdoor floor varnish, do not bother sanding the floor just clean it then paint it.

pay someone to:

everyday:
clean all toilets
mop toilet floors
do flowers/change water as neccesary
recyling (as required)

once a week:
deep cleaning:

moving fridges, properly mopping behind them all etc.
mopping all other floors (stairs, cafe space, gallery etc.)

we got the money to implement these changes, it could make a big difference to a number of problems..
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Postby Jane » Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:25 am

I haven't eaten at the forest in an age, so I'm not personally sure about food, but I think the reason quality is much more variable now is because we have been pushing more and more towards making our own things instead of buying stuff in. We used to buy in soups, mexican burgers, VBs, falafels and sometimes even pies or pastries or something I think. Maybe it was quiche. Ew.

Making our own is good for cheapness/ease of service during the day/using local produce/organicyness

BUT

It is bad for consistency of food/workload before 12/simplcity/ordering.

KMs never used to have to make soup, curry or sandwiches as prep. Me and Tim brought in the curry/chilli as a regular option because we enjoyed doing it and wanted more cooking and it was only us that ever made it. If KMs are busy and having to rely on volunteers making currys etc, and they are doing it bad, then maybe it should only be a special, not a regular.

Also, in this bar I liked in new york they had these amazing plastic covered suburban couches that you could have peed on and it wouldn't have mattered. They are very wipe-cleanable. I would like to see us have those. Then it would be clean for shannon.
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Postby nix » Sat Feb 02, 2008 10:12 am

please no plastic couches .. please.

In the words of the inimitable DM, "the Forest is like a giant livingroom in the middle of the city" and that is a good vibe, no?
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Postby chombee » Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:46 pm

I just had a potato with curry, two salads and a coffee at the forest and it was fucking amazing*
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Postby Jane » Sat Feb 02, 2008 5:57 pm

you pig
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Postby ravanwin » Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:43 am

back on topic (which really wasn't the topic at all but...)

Chri's suggestions:

couches - yes. Let's get rid of all our old couches and try to get new looking good ones. Why not? If you look good you feel good.

chairs: we could repaint some of our ones but also we could but some ones that are not shit and make it clear what ones should stay in the cafe (part of the trouble in everything is that so much of our stuff moves around a lot and so consistency is hard as some of the best tables and chairs move into the lobby / church)

tables: old negotiant ones are still my favourites and i think we have some decent tables. may need a sand and varnish however. I think the artwork on some is getting old as well. not too keen on new tables - would like to see them freshened up however. (anyone?)


floor: big yes. we can junk all couches and loads of chairs one sunday and paint the floor and go buy new stuff the next week. we can have a lovely few days where people will have to sit on the floor but, who cares!

Cleaning:

Ok - sure. How much money were we thinking. I made a list of regular tasks but think this would cost about £84 p/w. I am figuring 2 hour daily shifts at £6 per hour, 7 days a week. it would be nice to have the place bright and clean and so maybe this is the way forward and we can worry about other things. further, this is less stuff for Kms to worry about and so should help them do their job better. I am not against though the expense does seem high. We can advertise in house and hopefully help a friend who needs work get something happening.

Rough Cleaning list below.
Cleaning Duties: 7 Days a Week:

Daily –

clean and mop toilets and stairs to toilets
tidy couches and tables in cafe
change flowers and water
If time:
free shop
library


Weekly Tasks:

2 x week Clean and Mop Hall / Lobby & Hoover sweep and mop stairs

2 x week Cafe – wipe All surfaces and behind everything including the stage area. Mop all floors including gallery and red room.

Clean front windows
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Postby martinmckenna » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:07 pm

could we get the window professionally done at first , to get the job done properly. as i assume they have not been done for a while . also to clean the windows we need equipment to do it .
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Postby wren » Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:56 pm

Re painting wooden floors:

If you don't sand them and fill the rough patches with wood filler first, my experience is that the new varnish will come right off at the rough patches. Also, it may not stick very well at the points where the old varnish is intact.

With the amount of traffic the forest gets, varnish alone isn't going to last very long--particularly when it gets wet--a couple of coats of urethane will protect it. That's a lot of floor painting and a lot of drying time.

Seems to me that if all the other excellent ideas proposed are followed and maybe rugs are scrounged to cover/protect the worst bits of floor, it being old and abused won't matter so much, and can be done well later if the huge investment of effort (and closure time) is warranted.
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Postby Martin » Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:06 pm

Re couches, chairs and tables:

I agree that there are some that are just shit, which should go.

Having a nice mix of old stuff is part of the whole nice cosy ambience, though.

If I came in to see shiny new furniture everywhere I'd feel like Forest had sold out and turned into a trendy wine bar.
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Postby ravanwin » Mon Feb 04, 2008 2:37 pm

i don't think you will ever come in and see shiny new furniture - that's not the point. The point is that we are supposed to be artists not sloppy pigs and a random selection of couches / chairs does look shit. i think things can look random but actually ought to be thought out and put together. i would never suggest we buy a load of new and matching couches only that we should buy ones that look good and go together well.

I have no aestetic sense but people who do have and who want to go out and get stuff should be given money and the green light.

r
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Postby beev » Mon Feb 04, 2008 3:22 pm

Is it realistic to have a cleaner work 7 days a week? We all need to sleep in occasionally! I was thinking maybe day off on Mon & Thurs. Obviously not best for us to give days off at the weekend. 2 hrs a day, 5 days a week should be enough. Cleaning gets awful quick when you do it regular like.
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Postby Gaz » Mon Feb 04, 2008 5:33 pm

er...you can hire more than one person!
eg. KMs

i think cleaning 7 days a week is essential.
you will make the money back because more people will want to eat here.

c'mon!
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Postby ravanwin » Mon Feb 04, 2008 7:04 pm

any objections to this?
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Postby Shannon » Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:02 pm

I don't want the cleaner decision being made on a thread. Sorry. I am not against it, but I do want to talk about it. Properly. I am not comfortable with moving towards more and more paid stuff. I know we have a problem with cleaning and I can definitely be persuaded that we need to pay someone because we haven't been able to solve this one, but I want to look at it in the larger context. There is the eternal quandary of how this affects our ethos as a volunteer-run establishment and what work is deemed pay worthy, but maybe more importantly, there was not much money was banked in the last month/month and a half. We are already paying much more in wages than we were last year at this time. I don't have a concept of the overall money picture right now. Combined with the uncertainty of the tenancy situation, I don't want to make anymore decisions like this until we sit down together and discuss things overall. I know there seems to be some massive push for no talk all act at the moment, but I really think we need to have this weekend away and get on the same page again...
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Postby Shannon » Mon Feb 04, 2008 11:03 pm

Also: we are still without treasurer. Hopefully something will pan out soon, but we might have to offer some decent dosh for that too.
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Postby beev » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:15 am

Oh god Shannon please no! We are def suffering from too much talk and no action. We keep on putting things off until we have a meeting about it, then it gets discussed for ages and nothing gets done until another meeting, and so it goes on. We keep talking things to death. It feels like the forest has atrophied.

I realise not much money has been banked lately. I wanted to come in yesterday and do some banking but, as usual, I couldn't fit it in among other things. I do want to be a bit more on the case than I have been recently and I am trying to figure out when I can come in and get the odd thing done. I actually came in in the early morning the other day to do do some stuff but couldn't get into the cafe because of the new lock.

As for paying people, we are actually paying less people than we were 2 years ago. And I am still looking for a new treasurer. We will get one, and we may or may not have to pay them.
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Postby beev » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:40 am

Also, while I realise we may be overspending on things like wages & tax, I think the best time for a review of our money stuff is after we get a new treasurer who has some fresh enthusiasm for the role.

In the meantime, how about we take on a cleaner for a trial period of maybe 3 months. That way we can suss out if its a good thing or not.
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Postby ravanwin » Tue Feb 05, 2008 12:18 pm

fyi: i am banking money on mondays now. if there is anything people wanna know about it - talk to me,

as far as paying more people: as martin mm and i were saying the other day: i'd like to pay more people to do the jobs we hate. for every man hour we spend cleainging up shit and doing mundane tasks - those are HOURS we could be spending doing cool shit that we're supposed to do.

By all means let's regroup at some point soon but, also, we need to keep our eye on the prize. Point being - we're an arts and educational charity. That's what we DO - we don't do windows.
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Postby bill » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:38 pm

the true trick tricks the tricker.


i agree with shannon. the meeting can be punchy. i would like to be there but hopefully the meeting will happen before i get back mid feb.

yes we talk.but paying people in a voluntary org is awkward and changes many things.....i find it difficult that some people are paid and other aren't.


sofas can change but i don't care. lets not spend loads of money on it. i think we should get rid of the shitters have cafe empty. check freecycle etc.....


window cleaning is easy as fuck.


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Postby bill » Tue Feb 05, 2008 1:41 pm

often times we don't decide things because not enough people come to the approriate meetings, and the fwg don't meet enough.i say empower those who go the the meetings!


lets have a weekend away!
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Postby swithun » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:08 pm

Part of the prize we don't want to take our eyes off is doing things as a voluntary organisation. It isn't just about arts and education. When this conflicts with the other parts of the prize, we need to work out what parts of the prize to take our eyes off.

The people who do get paid are paid because of a pragmatic decision. KMs are paid because it would be hard to find a small number of people who could afford to invest their time and get the experience needed to do the job properly, if it wasn't a regular position. Not because we think that they are so much more important than the people who work for nothing.

Paying people to do cleaning feels a bit like having servants, which goes against the voluntary ethos. But again, it would be a pragmatic decision. If we could find someone who really objected to paying cleaners, it would be great, as they could do the cleaning voluntarily. Unfortunately no one seems to object enough.

The means are the ends, so I wouldn't dismiss the way we try to achieve our goals. But we can compromise when we've tried all other routes and failed.
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Postby Gandhi » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:17 pm

Surely people are paid because they are doing a hell of a lot more than most other people! Whats the problem with that? Just coz its a volunteer based place doesn't mean that people shouldn't be paid.
Thousands of people work for charities and volunteer companies for free but thousands work for them and get paid. In fact you can make a good living if you are doing a paid job for a Charity! I know we are not Oxfam but its the same sort of thing..ish.
The people who get paid at the Forest are getting paid because they work there asses off and I'm all for that. In fact I'm sure they don't get paid enough.

Sorry for my rant, but it annoys me when people say they don't see why people who work at Forest shouldn't get paid or that they are uncomfortable with it. They are doing a job, they are doing it well, and from the looks of things they are doing ridiculously long hours and have a lot more responsibilty than other people in other jobs on their pay band!

There is a big difference with helping out the Forest occasionally (thats called Volunteering) and working non stop to keep the place going. Hanging around the Forest a lot also does not constitute work! Fun projects and party organistaion does not constitute work...coz you want to do it, and there hard work has allowed you to do it.

I for one BIG Up the paid staff. Without them I'd don't think we'd be here still!!!

and for what its worth, I also think that a paid cleaner would be a very good idea as it will take a heck of a lot of pressure of those people working to focus on other stuff...especially other cool shit :D but only if its really worht the money. If those people who are uncomfortable with the prospect of paying someone to work in the Forest want to come in everyday and clean the place to as high a level as a paid cleaner can then fine, we can save some money and it will give you something to do...but somehow I really don't think its going to happen.
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Gandhi
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Postby Gandhi » Tue Feb 05, 2008 2:18 pm

Swiths post says it better... (it wasn't posted when i started typing mine :D )
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beev
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Postby beev » Tue Feb 05, 2008 3:49 pm

yup, interminable debate is definitely our specialty!

we are paying a pet-trainer guy, right? why aren't we doing that job ourselves, voluntarily?

if you think windows are easy, please clean them often. thanks. same goes for the toilets. etc.
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Shannon
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Postby Shannon » Tue Feb 05, 2008 5:27 pm

I have no idea what a pet-trainer is.

I am not going to be bullied into not talking about this. Unfortunately, I need to catch a train now.
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Martin
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Postby Martin » Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:19 pm

I agree this should be talked about. Whilst there is a good argument for paying people where expecting volunteer labour is unfeasible (KMs, scrubbing loos), it's a fine line. There are a lot of potential implications, including that volunteers may feel less inclined to do basic ongoing cleaning as "the cleaner will do it", it may set a precedent for other jobs people don't really like, etc etc.

When is the next FWG meeting to be?
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Gaz
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Postby Gaz » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:23 pm

This Thursday = 8 on the clock
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beev
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Postby beev » Tue Feb 05, 2008 7:47 pm

pet-trainer?
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ravanwin
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Postby ravanwin » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:25 pm

pet-trainer? ::: think about it.
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chombee
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Postby chombee » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:26 pm

I think beev may have fallen victim to those word replacement rules that the board has? (pet trainer)

Let's see:

kitchen manager
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chombee
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Postby chombee » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:27 pm

Oh no that obviously wasn't what he tried to say. Damn, I look stupid again.
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I've had it with you. If I had an image of a laser gun I would absolutely position it right here in my hand...
Ha! I have a real laser absolutely positioned in my hand!

ras
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the cleaning job

Postby ras » Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:54 pm

I need any job, can I apply for the cleaning job?
ras babi
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