Walking through Melbourne University for the first time feels a bit like going on a wild goose chase, and it’s not because of the layout, but because all of the buildings look the same – blonde brick, concrete and blue steel – and not of the Zoolander variety!
As you make your way through to the Melbourne Uni Student Union North Court, a brilliant pop of red greets you, followed by the warmth of our resident pot plants, the sound of funky beats pumping from the cart and the smell of fresh coffee, pungent herbs and sizzling garlic – say hello to STREAT’s latest cafe.
STREAT worked with the talented Ammon Beyerle and Pete Spence from Herestudio Architects to design and craft our new café. The innovative design features walls made from iconic red recycled milk crates that lovingly wrap around our food and coffee carts. The result is visually spectacular!
This is the first time that we have had a sizable piece of real estate that has allowed us to pull off a double site, but does this compromise the STREAT experience? Definitely not!
I’m proud to say that our latest street cafe is a smooth operator that is quickly earning a reputation for the ‘best coffee on campus.’ And coffee that is ‘AMAZING and quick!’ and ‘some seriously good coffee karma for your morning caffeine kick!’ Our gourmet sandwiches are also earning a decent foodie following among students and faculty – we had our very first onsite catering gig just the other day and two loyalty cards have been completed since we opened up just three weeks ago.
Our CEO Rebecca Scott also had a thing or two to say about working on our latest venture. "I’m looking forward to working with Melbourne University Student Union Ltd and I’m proud that this year we’ll give customers over 45 reasons to share a meal or buy a coffee with STREAT at our latest street cafe. They are... Jamie, Bahareh, Andrew, Rayne, Imogen, Jen, Damien, Wren, Maddie, Con, John, Medina, Nathan, Chloe, Susie, Chantelle, Jake... the list goes on!”
Throughout 2011 STREAT will work with 40 homeless youth. Through the support of you – our loyal customers, we will provide 20,000 hours of paid employment to our trainees.
By the end of 2011 STREAT will be serving up to 1,000 customers daily across both of our street cafe sites with a target of hitting the 100,000 coffee served mark by Christmas.
So come on down to see our latest food and coffee cart for yourselves, and help us stop homelessness the delicious way by sharing a meal with us.
So I’ve just come to the end of my first week working with STREAT and thought that I would share some reflections of my experience with you, because working with STREAT really is like a dream!
Arriving on day one I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, so I decided to approach the day with my mind and heart open, ready for everything that might come my way.
I think this paid off because I was welcomed so warmly by a team of amazing people, and was even treated to an early morning coffee run to our lovely neighbours at Kinfolk Cafe. A sneaker of inspiration from our CEO Rebecca Scott completed my STREAT welcome and kicked my journey off to a start.
Not too long after I had fired up my computer, our trainees from class two and three started to arrive, and the STREAT HQ was a hive of excitement. The trainees were all dressed to impress, ready to be hosted by the Langham for a kitchen tour and full course lunch. Happy snaps taken by yours truly captured the moment and I felt incredibly lucky to share it with them.
Enter Bec’s Big Black Book… The conceptual heartbeat of STREAT, and my first communications strategy session was underway. This was essentially an ideas session full of thinking BIG in a dynamic and creative space and having lots of fun and laughs throughout the process. For what only seemed like an hour turned out to be closer to three, before our rumbling tummies told us to call it a day and grab some lunch!
Day two, and while still feeling shiny and new, I’m also feeling ready to begin bringing our BIG ideas to life and enter the next generation of STREAT communications! Later that morning, we were treated to a surprise visit by Bec’s Dad who stopped by the office to stock STREAT’s kitchen with some of his very own honey, an affinity with food clearly runs in the Scott family.
The next day was full of meeting new people up at the Hub Melbourne’s regular mixed bag lunch. This was followed by some secret squirrel business back at the STREAT office, the details of which will be revealed very soon, so stay tuned!
My last day of the week was full of feeling as proud as punch, as our second class of trainees graduated from the 6 month STREAT program. Each of their individual journeys have been pretty incredible and I felt so privileged to celebrate the rewards of their hard work by going bowling and sharing a final meal together at the STREAT foodcart in Fed Square.
Melbourne must have known this day was special, because we were treated to a bright and sunny day, just as bright as the futures that lay ahead of each of the trainees. We wish you the best of luck class two!!
So there you have it, this wraps up my very first week at STREAT, it has been a great start to my journey, and I’m really excited to share it with you all. Till next time!
Recently Hildy Gottleib on her ‘Creating the Future’ blog was struggling with what social entrepreneurship is and also stated ‘I am struggling to find what the difference is between a social entrepreneur venture and every other organization working to create a better world.’ The responses she received were varied and a good read. I thought I’d add an Australian flavour to the responses.
In 2009 the Australian Centre for Nonprofit Studies and Social Traders had a stab at defining social enterprise, and the answer works well for STREAT, and partially captures why as the organisation’s founder I call myself a social entrepreneur.
Here’s their definition of a social enterprise, along with my response…
a. Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission for public or community benefit (STREAT’s mission is to provide homeless youth with independence and a future by providing social support and training and employment in the hospitality industry) b. Trade to fulfill their mission (our street cafes have the dual purpose of generating income by competing in the open market and also providing the site for training and employment of our youth) c. Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade (we’re aiming for full financial sustainability through our own earned income by the end of our third year of operating - we’re in year 1 and tracking pretty well against this goal. Our second site opened last week so wish us luck!) d. Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission (we reinvest 100% of profit).
My guess is that most non-profits could easily tick off point a, though many couldn’t tick off b, c, or d. Now of course there’s a bunch of non-profits who are earning some income, but this isn’t their main or only source of income and they will continue to rely heavily on other income sources to fulfil their missions (eg like government grants, philanthropic money, fundraising activities).
On the other hand, most for-profits could easily tick off point b and c. Some would tick off a, and of course most would reinvest a percentage of their profit back into their business (point d), but most would distributing their profits back to the owners or shareholders of the business.
But of course things aren’t quite this simplistic.
My first day at STREAT as a Marketing and Communications volunteer was nothing less than an adventure!
The task: To visit Melbourne street artists with illusive names creating art in secret locations in order to collect generously donated art works for the launch of STREAT Cart 2 (it sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster but I can assure you it was more than that).
The explorers: Sunisa, head of STREAT’s Marketing and Communications team and her trusty accomplice Beck, both risking hours out-of-the-office to find artistic works. But hey, someone’s gotta do it!
The outcome: We zig-zagged through the lane-ways of Melbourne, stopping briefly for a much needed coffee. We continued on to our destination - a lane enclave covered with stencils, murals, stickers and the like.
We climbed through a door half the size of us when I couldn’t help but think I was on the set of Willy Wonka. However unlike Wonka, there was no wall of fruit stickers to lick, though I was tempted to suggest it. Instead, the humble bustle of Blender Studios, off Franklin Street, where some artists – Drewfunk, Ha Ha, Adi-- generously donate their art works to help out organisations such as STREAT.
The artist we were after, Drewfunk, informed us that the signs we were to pick up were not all complete so he invited us to ‘hang’ which we found quite a privilege. We got to witness a well-respected street artist at work, yay! When the artworks were pronounced dry we proudly carried them across the city to the STREAT office where an eruption of oo’s and ahh’s meant the artworks were most appreciated and loved!
If day one is anything to go by, volunteering at STREAT will require me to be super fit but it‘s definitely worth it.
Well my first week at STREAT was an interesting one. Meeting the team and the trainees the first day I got an impression of the kind of awesome energy that our glorious leaders have cultivated and invested into this fantastic organisation.
The trainees themselves were a little stand off-ish on the first day and I was a little wary as well, not quite sure what I was getting myself into, and while I’m still not quite sure, I know there is a fantastic network above and beside me willing to help in any way as I find my footing here at STREAT. That in itself has made the transition here worthwhile, although a little headsore in the first couple of days as the information kept pumping into my fragile mind.
At STREAT our number one concern is to deliver a top rate experience for our trainees, but we are also passionate about sustainability and low impact eating. We have an open and ongoing dialogue with staff members and industry specialists on cutting edge and common sense ways to reduce to reduce our carbon foot print and spread awareness about green solutions. To this end, recently we met with Andy Jones (sustainability practitioner and all-round nice guy) to discuss strategies and ideas for making STREAT products as ethically and environmentally friendly as possible.
Some of the issues we covered where: food miles, using seasonal ingredients, justice and Fair Trade issues, and using organic produce where ever possible. One of the things we learnt was sometimes you have to weigh what’s better between a fully organically grown tomato driven down from Queensland or an in-season but pesticide-covered tomato grown locally? Another example Andy used was the plastic wrapped super market cucumbers can actually use less packaging to get from farm to you than the unwrapped cucumbers!
We decided one of the best ways we can make an impact is by educating ourselves and the public as best we can and spread awareness. For instance it’s one thing us having fully bio-degradable spoons, garbage bags and soup cups etc, but if somebody buys a meal from us then dumps the container in general waste with a plastic rubbish bag it kind of defeats the purpose. We can conclude from this that another step we can take is convincing surrounding councils and businesses to use bio-degradable rubbish bags and separate recyclables where possible.
As you can see this will have to be an ongoing and in-depth process to reduce our negative impact and raise the bar for our positive impact.
STREAT has found a new home. A heritage-listed beautiful building that used to be the old tramways station. We spent the last week in boxes and this week in our new diggs. We are now located at the deliciously-named Donkey Wheel House, at 673 Bourke Street. It’s the home of another social enterprise, Kinfolk Café, that is keeping us fed and watered as we get settled. Hub Melbourne is also located here, making this one big creative and social community. It’s pretty amazing.
The wonderful interior architect Guy Matthews has been helping us design our space. It’s definely a work in progress, (click to see the Facebook album) but just imagine what we could do with the bright white spaciousness —we’re already working with some artists to do paste ups on the walls and have grand plans for couches, creative hots desks, and more.
Watch this space to see how the Donkey Wheel collaborative grows.
At STREAT we’re always looking for ways for you to show your support and help us stop homelessness. Our latest idea? T-shirts. Spunky, fun shirts custom-printed to order on soft American Apparel cotton.
We’ve got all sorts of colours for you to choose from—light and dark grey, red, maroon, black, cream, and white—and fits come in standard t-shirt, long-sleeved, girlie fit and hoodie. Have a play on the Red Bubble website where you can see how the shirt colour looks with the design. Then put your order through their e-commerce system.
Click here to go to Red Bubble's website and order a t-shirt.
Because we have to eat—it seems an obvious answer. But you might be surprised what the trainees said when I asked them that question. I spent Tuesday following their activity in the training kitchen at William Angliss.
There’s a certain exhilaration to working in a kitchen. Maybe it comes from the sharp objects and high heat—potential for disaster creates excitement and an incentive to get the job done correctly. Who knows. But what I do know is that the day I spent in the kitchen of William Angliss with the trainees was a real rush, because I got to see our trainees in action, knife skills, sautéing and all.
They start the day with a couple hours of cooking theory. In the afternoon, they move into the kitchen. On the day I saw them they made chicken wings in a honey and soy marinade, fried rice with ham and egg. They cooked the rice pilaf-style and infused it with star anise and ginger—something I definitely intend to try at home. The trainees finished the lesson with a rocket and grilled pear dish, which took them from 1pm to about 5pm.
Today the STREAT team did their very first TV interviews on location at the carts at Fed Square. And it seems Imogen and Jamie, two of our trainees, are media naturals as well as fast learners on the sizzling grill (thanks for the Seekh kebabs and Kashmiri chick pea curry for lunch!). At lunchtime they were interviewed with me for a story due to air on Channel 31 in mid May. And despite their initial nerves both of them commented that the interview was easier than they'd thought it would be. Way to go guys!