Carbondale New School By– Robert Lozar-McDonald

     At first, cleaning out a musty, spider-ridden basement does not sound like a lot of fun. For the most part, you would be correct. However, the Carbondale New School project showed me otherwise, and it taught me the importance of knowing the strengths and interests of my team. The New School had a storage room in their basement that was in desperate need of a thorough reorganization and cleaning. Like all basements, it had been flooded multiple times and had a problem with local pests sneaking in and making it their new home.
     At the invitation from the Director, Carla, I came in after school and took a first glance at what needed to be done. I come from a family that absolutely loves stuff. I have had to clean out many of sheds, closets, basements, and rooms just in the spirit of making more room for more stuff. This project was in my wheelhouse, so I had a good idea of what to expect.

      The storage room was what I expected: crowded, dirty, poorly lit, and unorganized. After talking with all the staff about what they thought of the storage room and what they would like it to become, I had settled on at least two things: we needed an inventory to determine trash from necessity, and the new organization had to be sustainable. Allowing for sustainable improvement is the best possible way to leave a project and that was my goal.                                           Cleaning and throwing things out was the easy part. If it was broken or no longer able to function as intended, we pitched it. Organizing in a coherent fashion is a difficult process, this is where it is important to have knowledgeable and effective team members. I had known all of the people who had volunteered to help, but had not known all of them personally. In this respect, I failed to get to know my team before the day of the project. As a result, we spent valuable work time defining roles and figuring out who would be the best fit for each role. In the end, it all worked out because I had a highly motivated and competent team so any faults in planning or leadership we able to be adjusted for. I sometimes wonder if that is the point of the LDP–gathering motivated people together to act as a safety net when problems inevitably arrise in our respective projects.                                      Besides getting a surprise snowfall and being ignorant about the proper way to dispose of excess paint, everything else went to plan. The group finished work at 2:30 p.m. just 30 minutes longer than my projected time. The big reveal to Carla was a moment of pride for me. I know how I feel after a hard day’s work to see all I have accomplished; I could see that she never expected this room to be as clean as we left it. Pleasant surprises are the best in my humble opinion.

Carbondale New School Before
Carbondale New School after