Our View: Creative partnerships between city and nonprofits benefit everyone

Our View: Creative partnerships between city and nonprofits benefit everyone

(Photo/Chris Teale)

This week’s Times features two stories about innovative alliances between local nonprofit organizations and the City of Alexandria that appear to be wins for the city, the nonprofits and the community writ large.

In the first, Casa Chirilagua, a faith-based nonprofit dedicated to building community among Alexandria’s Latino population and beyond, has signed a five-year lease with the city to renovate and utilize the Four Mile Run Conservatory Center. The center currently is used for events and the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market.

Under the agreement with the city department of recreation, parks and cultural activities, Casa will install a heating and air conditioning system and make other improvements to the building’s interior, including adding centralized office space for itself.

The facility, which was largely unusable in winter and summer, still will be available to the public for event rentals. In return, the nonprofit gets a single location in which to consolidate its offices and the ability to expand services to more children and families.

The net result is an improved city facility, better services for an underserved segment of the city’s population, and a more efficient operation for a local nonprofit. It’s difficult to imagine a more beneficial partnership.

The second collaboration is between the city and UpCycle, an organization dedicated to promoting creative re- use of all sorts of materials. This alliance seems a natural one, as the combination arts and recycling organization has moved from its home on Mount Vernon Avenue into the Durant Arts Center at 1605 Cameron St.

Perhaps symbolically, the organization’s new headquarters is roughly equidistant between the innovative arts scene in Del Ray and Alexandria’s flagship arts organization — the Torpedo Factory. UpCycle will be able to expand its class offerings in the new space, and also plans to make its craft closet more of a community resource, particularly to local schools.

The outcome of this partnership is greater community awareness of how to reuse unwanted materials, additional creative opportunities for Alexandrians, a chance for a relatively new nonprofit organization to expand its offerings and better utilization of a city arts center.

These partnerships are helpful reminders that Alexandria’s resources are for everyone: city-owned properties and services are funded out of the hard-earned tax dollars residents pay.

Thus, they are not the property of the city per se, but rather it is the residents who have an ownership stake. When those resources can be leveraged through outside-the-box partnerships with nonprofit or even for-profit organizations to expand services and opportunities, everyone wins.