Friday, January 27, 2012

Bicycle Bingo has a Bingo Bicycle!

Thanks for our friend Jeff Tiedeken, aka Monkey Likes Shiny, aka Dr. E-ville, aka... (ok, you get the idea) - he built an awesome bike-driven bingo machine for Bicycle Bingo. Photos and videos here...check it out!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bicycle Bingo - Launches in February

We've been working for a few months on an event that I'm really excited about, and that will launch in February (next week! on Groundhog Day!). It's called Bicycle Bingo, and it's a weekly fundraiser. We've teamed up with several not-for-profit orgs active in our neighborhood, and gotten sponsorship from Trumer, New Belgium, Lagunitas, and Chinook Book. We built a bicycle-driven bingo hopper (with the help of our favorite mad scientist/fabricator, Monkey Likes Shiny). We signed up local ingenue Steffy Sue on the Uke as our emcee. We got donated prizes from Chinook Book, Mike's Bikes, the Berkeley Bike Station, A Verb for Keeping Warm, James and the Giant Cupcake, The Essence of Beauty, Kinks Beauty Supply, and all the beer companies. The cafe will provide some prizes as well (did I need to say so?).

We selected partners who are relevant to our own neighborhood:

- East Bay Bicycle Coalition (first Thursdays, starting 2/2) advocates for bike lanes and roadway maintenance, holds bicycle safety classes for new urban cyclists, and generally promotes bicycle culture in Oakland and the greater East Bay
- Rebuilding Together Oakland (second Thursdays, starting 2/9) provides free home repairs and safety modifications to economically disadvantaged clients, especially the disabled and older adults. They organize neighborhood-wide maintenance days across Oakland, including in the Golden Gate neighborhood in October 2011. Their office is in the Golden Gate District.
- East Bay College Fund (third Thursdays, starting 2/16) provides College Guidance Services in High School, Scholarships, Mentoring, and Career Development for underrepresented students from Oakland public schools.
- United Roots Oakland (fourth Thursdays, starting 2/23) provides exposure to, support of, and training in arts, design and media for Oakland Youth ages 13-24. They offer youth leadership training, career & workforce development and support many important community campaigns.

...With special one-off fundraisers in long months with five Thursdays (like March, for instance).

Although you may be familiar with one or two of our beneficiary partners, you probably don't know them all. We figure that we can introduce them to supportive people and help spread the word about what they're doing, so they'll be here to meet you and tell you about why they're relevant.

Cards will be got for donations ($3/each, 2/$5, 5/$10) which will go directly to our partners. On top of that, we'll be donating 10% of everything we take in during the event. Beer sponsors will donate $1 from each pint sold, and we'll match what they give - so that for each $5 beer we sell, $2 goes to our partners. Chinook Book will donate $3 of each Chinook Book sold, and we'll match that as well (so that out of every $20 Chinook Book sale, our partners get $6).

But, even while we do good, we don't forget the having fun part. We built the bingo bike so that folks from the audience could come on up and pedal to select the winning numbers. We have lots of awesome prizes from which winners may select. There will be beer (and coffee, and food, and good company). Steffy Sue will be charming and entertaining. What's not to love?

It is my fervent hope that this event be successful for us and our partners. We'd like this to be something we do every week forever, and we want to help folks who do good in our neighborhoods fund their projects. All we need is for lots of people to come out and have a good time for a good cause. So please do.

The salient facts bear emphasis here:
- Thursdays 7-9!
- No cover charge!
- All ages admitted!
- Win prizes!
- Enjoy refreshments!
- Support folks who do good in your very own community!
- Maybe get to ride the Bingo Bike (if you're real lucky)!

See you there.

Monday, January 2, 2012

our first million dollars...what it means.

I have been meaning to sit down and write another 'year end reflection' sort of post, and haven't had the time. This isn't that post. I will write it. Soon. Pinky swear.

In the meantime...

I realized the other day while I was working on closing my books for the end of the 2011 that the cafe had crossed the million-dollar total revenue mark recently (we made a bit over $400k last year and about $600k this year). "That's pretty awesome," said I to myself. Then I looked at the profit over these years, which totals just under $0 (our opening loss in 2009 wipes out every dollar made in 2010 and 2011, and then a few more). "So that's not so awesome," thought I. And then I thought more about it. Every single dollar that's come through the front door of this cafe has gone somewhere, and every one of them has had some impact where it landed.

The biggest chunk went to our vendors - over $350k went to buy the stuff we sell; $50k went to supplies, $25k to repairs. Since almost all those vendors are local businesses, a chunk of their dollars are being spent somewhere in town, and then recirculating more.

The next biggest chunk went to our crew - we've paid out over $350k in salaries. Because almost all our employees live within about a mile of the cafe, it's a good bet that a chunk of these dollars reappear on the streets of Berklandville as well.

$70k went to rent. My landlord happens to be a partnership of guys who live in Oakland and Berkeley, so some of their dollars also go back into the local moneystream.

$5k went to entertainers. $1,500 went to charities. All local.

We've collected and paid $70k in sales tax (that's separate from the million bucks). Those dollars go to schools, police, firefighters, roads, and other useful stuff. (Granted, they do other less-useful things as well, but that's the nature of taxation.)

The rest went to things like insurance, utilities ($45k!), permits, taxes, and on and on. (Almost $20k went to credit card processing fees, depressingly.)

This constant recirculation of money is the sort of thing that people on the radio and the TV call 'the economy', but that's a bit abstract. Looking at real facts and figures helps make it a bit more concrete, at least for me. If I were a politician, I'd say that we 'created' a million dollars in 'economic activity' or 'increased the local economy' by a million bucks or some such. Since I'm not a politician, I don't know exactly how I'd say it, but certainly the fact of the existence of Actual Cafe has contributed to the movement of dollars, and the fact that we prioritize doing business in our own community means that activity happens more often in our own backyard. Of course, the nature of 'the economy' is such that streams of money flow all over the damn place in the end - there's no stopping them going literally all around the world and back.

I feel like an NPR reporter right now.