Directors Report: 2013.
The markets focus for 2013, will be on sustainability. This will be underpinned by three main pillars: economic, environmental and ‘the team’. On an economic front, WETM plans to continue to be self-sustainable – what do we mean by that? The long and short is that we want to be able to pay the bills, through an approach that works in the current market-system (whatever that is), in combination with developing and nuturing mutually beneficial partnerships with our local community groups (you know, like how you look after your friends). How do we pick those groups? Some of them are already our friends, some of them are by chance, and a heck of a lot of it simply comes down to our personal judgement about whether we believe in what they do. Yes that means we take factors like non-profit status into account, location (i.e. relative distance to our door), where they source from, how they source, why they do it, what they are hoping to achieve long term, how we can work together and more. This is not like a tick-box system. You can't get the heart tick by fulfilling all the criteria, like a spreadsheet. If you could do it that simply, certain organisations with golden logo's could conveniently be considered healthy... and more improtantly, what would be the point of us WETM organisers!? Essentially, if you do get turned down with WETM, it doesn't mean we are against what you do, or that we don't feel you are awesome. It sometimes can be as simple as a) we may not have had enough information to make the right call (tell us your story!) b) the market balance may not be right that week to cater for you c) we already have a long-serving stallholder doing something similar d) we are already booked up or e) we are not sure if our market is best for your product (to name a couple).
We have to strive hard to find ways to make enough money to eat food and do our bit to provide an environment where our marketeers can thrive and for the public to enjoy. We see one of the keys to this being linked to positively influencing our second mandate; our ‘environment’. We will continue to invest in a culturally rich environment, with a continued emphasis on local musicians and a diverse range of performance mediums (puppet shows, theatre, street performers and the list goes on) to ensure the market is a great place to be – for all (including us!). So I guess in short what I am saying is, that as organisers, we will always strive to move the market in the right direction, especially in what types of products it provides to the community. Somethings will be recyclable, others will not. Somethings will be handmade, some might be getting their third life (still a worthy cause). Sometimes we will get it spot on, sometimes we wont. Our mantra is though, as a consumer, you can rest assured you are doing some good coming to the West End Twilight Markets, and you need not go home feeling like you killed the Earth.
My favourite festival in the world here in Australia, isn't that environmentally friendly (and sadly neither are its partrons at times). However, I still go and it is still a wondeful show. This is the truth about a lot of fun and enjoyable things that we do. The first thing I realised when starting this market was - oh my goodness, markets are by birthright, categorically environmental hurters. But everything is relative, and since we've have as a human populous apparently decided to keep ourselves alive (including the environmentalists), we have equally decided we will impact on the Earth. The most important thing we have to decide is 'how'. The markets support handmade, because we like the direct flow of trade between the marker and user. That is also why we support repurposed, resued or upcycled products, because, if you can create something new out of old stuff, that has to be surely better (most of the time) than tossing it under the ground. We like things that last. The choice of our location is environmentally considered - take a space, and reuse it, rather than create a new one. We also very strategically decided we did not want to be on the street, blocking other shops and claiming to add to the local economy. We instead like to think of ourselves as another brick in the wall of important cultural economy of West End.
Are we perfect, by no means. However we are doing little things all the time to help improve the way we do it. We used to get all our beer from the shop but now we we currently source our beer from Local Brewery “The Brewhouse” (South Brisbane) and consciously offer this tap beer option to a) reduce glass waste b) reduce miles travelled and c) inject back in to ‘local money’. He still drives the beer over (it is a bit heavy to ride it over) and we use power to keep it cold... Our next (small) improvement for this year is to no longer offer saleable bottled water on site, hence saving the countless waste of plastic bottles. These may seem like tiny things (and they are), but you can rest assured they are a reflection of the constant attention we pay to how we can reduce our footprint. Please contact us if you can see ways that you can aid us in saving money, and improve the environmental management plans we have in place. This applies to everyone, for instance, if you sell consumables, please give the info to everyone about how to recycle your product easily and correctly at our market (i.e. remove pizza box lid into recycling and throw the rest in general waste).
The last and (one) of the most important pillars of sustainablity for the the markets is ‘the team’. That’s the organisers, stallholders, the artists and the public, who make this event occur. We have to look after each other and what we are trying to create. It is special and it can easily break. What is WETM? We reckon it is a market come pocket-sized festival, where each and everyone of us has genuinely contributed to something that people look forward to (I know I do) and miss when it is not around. We all have a part to play in that success, whether it is the quality of our products, the delivery of our service, or being at our best when the fourth Saturday comes around. This year, we have decided that one way to help achieve that is to start by operating monthly. We hope this makes sense to people, and trust that in turn the quality of performers, products on show and our team (that is all of us), will be at full throttle each month; hence putting on the best show imaginable.
I would like to finish by thanking everyone for their involvement to date. Whether that is as a stallholder, punter, artist, or organiser. This is market is everyone’s, and everything that we all do, does inevitably helps the project to succeed (or, not so). Our business and shared market joy are because of each other and at a time when most businesses in Brisbane are pushing up hill, the collective effort of all involved in WETM has been truly remarkable. Looking forward to wonderful (and challenging) 2013 and beyond.
Scott Russell (and Sally) on behalf of the WETM team.