2019 Mid-Year Organization Wide Update

Greetings from PKV!

The summer is, unbelievably, almost up! It’s been a busy few months for all of here at Parkour Visions, expanding programming, building new partnerships, hosting visiting instructors, and laying the groundwork for the Fall launch of a few projects mentioned in our #MovementForAll campaign and annual fund!

Instead of reflecting on all of these projects and programs right now in brief, over the next few weeks we will be updating our news with individual stories and photos highlighting our various youth programs, STEM camps, national events, and projects in the works.

This frees me up to use this years Mid-year update to answer some of the questions I receive most frequently—from the direction of the organization to where we are going and how fast and how to get more involved. I’m going to jump right in, highlighting each section in bold!

1. Why did the old gym close?

Parkour Visions moved into its SODO space in an accelerated time frame in late Summer 2016. When we moved, we did not file building permits or change of use paperwork needed to operate a new type of business (a gym) in the space. In January 2017, a building inspector came to the SODO space, noted that we didn’t have the proper permits, and told us to take care of it. That proved to be difficult and expensive, and we did not move fast enough to resolve the issues. In September 2017, the City of Seattle filed a lawsuit against us for failing to take corrective action, which put us  in violation of our lease terms. The cost of bringing the space into compliance (including costly seismic and energy upgrades) and securing the correct permits would have cost upwards of $500,000--well outside our small org budget and abilities. We had no choice but to close the gym.

2. Why doesn’t PKV have a gym yet?

First, we’re at the mercy of the Seattle real estate market. It took us 6 months of constant searching to find the Nickerson gym, and another 6 months to find the SODO gym. The market hasn’t gotten any more forgiving since 2016 when we moved into SODO.

But there’s an additional challenge: We don’t want to repeat our mistakes from the SODO move regarding permitting. Spaces that make good parkour facilities tend to be warehouse and storage spaces, with tall ceilings and lots of open area. These facilities are built to hold stuff, not people. In order to legally operate in a warehouse/storage space, we will have to undergo a long, expensive process of use and occupancy permit changes, as well as capital upgrades to ensure life safety. Due to the current building boom, the wait time for getting permits approved is 6-8 months at least according to SDCI, during which time we could not build or operate. And, unfortunately, we can’t start the permit process until we signed a lease, which would require us to start paying rent on a space we couldn’t build or operate in until permits were issued.

Thus in order to open a new gym, we either need to find a space that is already the correct use and occupancy rating and also fits all our needs (which is unlikely) OR have access/save up a substantial amount of capital to be able get the correct permits, make any required capital upgrades as required by the city, and cover up to 8-12 months of rent on top of any of our own build-out costs. — All this while not being able to generate any revenue in the space and still continue to operate the organization and all our active programs. We currently do not have enough capital in savings to undertake such a project without putting the organization at financial risk.

3. How were the funds from the Save Parkour Visions fundraiser used?

When we closed our gym in November, you all came together and helped us raise $100,000 as part of  our Save Parkour Visions fundraising campaign. We are incredibly grateful to everyone in our community who rallied to support us, and especially for those who volunteered their time and donated to our cause. Thank you for being a community member and supporter of our organization.

When PKV closed the gym, we no longer had any lines of income. We carried on with a few outdoor classes, but they no where near enough to cover the organizations expenses. Even in our efforts to rapidly downsize and start up new programming, we lost a lot of money. Cutting costs also meant making hard decisions: we downsized staff, reduced salaries and cut benefits, and changed services and programs that people loved. We had to say goodbye (for now) to a lot of amazing people in the process and saw the shrinking of the community in the absence of an indoor space.

We also worked closely with a broker and aggressively looked for spaces—but all we looked at either didn’t fit our need or required that extensive permitting process that even all our donations would not be able to cover.

We cannot emphasize enough that your donations in the Save PKV Fundraiser in 2017 did save Parkour Visions. While we haven’t been able to open a new gym yet, your generosity has made it possible for us to continue delivering amazing classes and programs in Seattle and beyond while we continue to look for a path to a new home.

4. So what is the vision for a future home for PKV?

As we start to really grasp our power as a community organization, we are realizing that we  want more than a gym. We want a community center, a hub, a space of our own where we can not only deliver parkour programs but other movement arts as well, while also providing a creative and inspiring environment to do so.  We want a space to showcase the work we are doing, a library of both our written resources and our equipment, active collaborations with local organizations, and educational programs that go beyond the physical.

It’s going to take some time, but it still remains very much a part of the conversation.  We hope we can be in a new space in 2 years, but also want to make sure we do so in a way that doesn’t put the organization at financial risk.

5. What’s the plan to get there?

Here are the actions we’re taking right now toward building a future home for the Parkour Visions community.

Create a dedicated capital fund and contribute to it regularly

Our plan moving forward is to create a dedicated, restricted capital fund in the fall of 2019. We will add a portion of revenue to the fund each month. We will also earmark 20% of next year’s annual general fundraiser into the fund and open up direct donations into the restricted fund.

Each year we will provide a public report on the state of the capital gym fund as part of our annual report.

Our goal is to have enough to cover up to 8 months of rent,  as well as permitting, and construction costs. We estimate this amount to be approximately $120,000.

Figure out ways we can work with investors

We will be talking with lawyers and accountants, as well as professional colleagues, to figure out how we can approach possibly partnering with private investors, which may require some restructuring to make happen. Expect an update at the end of 2019.

Expand our programs, increase revenue, and build the community

PKV will continue to work on scaling up the number of classes we offer in order to support a student community big enough to back our future home’s revenue needs. The projects we are doing in the Seattle area, and the success of our classes at various locations, will directly affect the timeline to open up and operate a gym. Here’s where you can see what classes we’re running where.

6. How can I help?

1. COME OUT AND PLAY

We ask our community to be an advocate for the organization. Please, share your passion about Parkour Visions, its instructors, and the impact parkour has made on your life. PKV was only able to originally open a gym because people were passionate about sharing parkour and the profound effect the discipline could have on others. This sharing led to larger and larger outdoor classes, grant programs, indoor partnerships, and eventually to our home.

So, come to outdoor classes (yes, even when it’s raining we will be there!), bring your friends and co-workers, participate in the local parkour and movement community by attending events. 

If you want to see parkour in your school or company, connect us! Have an event and want a pop-up playground there? Let us know! Getting the word out and parkour to as many people as possible still reigns number one.

2. VOLUNTEER!

Parkour Visions has a big, bold vision and a ton of ideas both active and on the drawing board. We are always looking for new ideas from the community and seeking out passionate volunteers to collaborate with us to make an impact in our community. Email our volunteer coordinator elizabeth@parkourvisons.org to connect with us and learn more. From copy editing to teaching to web design and more--we need you!

3. BOARD SERVICE

In 2019-2020, we  are currently looking to aggressively grow our Board of Directors, to help steward the organization and provide guidance as we grow. We welcome passionate, engaged members of the community who really want to play a bigger role in shaping our vision and expand our impact. We are also looking to add individuals with expertise in any of the following areas: accounting and finance, nonprofit law, small business operations, education administration and teaching, community development, architecture, and fundraising.

If you’re interested or even just curious to learn more, please reach out to Caitlin@ParkourVisions.org.

4. BECOME A MONTHLY SUPPORTER

Give the gift of movement to others. At PKV we are not only go getters but go givers--with memberships and class fees supporting a wide array of services for the public, including free and reduced cost classes to under-served populations, pop-up playgrounds for community centers, outreach events in schools, scholarships for low-income students, womens events, and free online learning resources for people across the world. Together we can bring play into people's lives--and it can only happen with your support. 

7. How can I keep in touch?

Without a gym, it has been harder to keep in touch with everything we have been up to! We welcome feedback and ideas, and are committed to improving our communication across our digital channels 

CHECK THE BLOG!

Starting in September, we will provide regular updates on our blog. We will be sharing what everyone in the org - coaches, volunteers, donors, and students - are achieving as well as any updates and changes to our plan in finding our new space as they come to light.

GET THE NEWSLETTER!

Look out for our weekly email newsletter, which highlights upcoming classes, community events, and volunteer opportunities, as well as selected news stories and movement ideas.

JUMP & EAT WITH US!

Finally, we also invite you to our new monthly community “Jump & Eat” event, starting on September 6th, 7pm-9pm at Greenwood Senior Center. These monthly events will be a free get-together where we will set up some light equipment for jumping and playing, have some snacks on hand, and provide a short update on what’s coming up this month with Parkour Visions. We also will have members of the team around if you have any questions.

CONNECT DIRECTLY

And, finally, I am always excited and interested in connecting directly to anyone in our community. Please feel free to email me at caitlin@parkourvisions.org, where we can set up a time for coffee, Skype, or call!

Thank you again for going on this journey with us. We know it hasn’t been easy but we are excited for the future and, with your partnership, to create a world powered by play :)

Caitlin Pontrella
Executive Director

Caitlin Pontrella