When we set out on this UnConventional adventure, we were driven by a refusal to watch the Benedictine convent in Dumfries continue falling into disrepair and remain unused. We knew that we were far from qualified for such an undertaking, but since no one else was doing anything, we decided to give it our best shot. Recently, we learned that the private owner found a buyer. Now that the sale has been confirmed, we want to share the news with everyone who has been involved with UnConventional.
The new owners, Building Craftsmen of Dumfries, are a well-known local residential property developer and we are thrilled that the convent rests in their capable hands. They have yet to announce their plans, but we suspect they will be converting the buildings into flats. While this means our vision for the convent, inspired by all of your input, will not come to fruition, we are happy to see that such an important and beautiful place will be saved and put to good use.
The past seven months have been an incredible learning experience for all of us and we remain motivated to start social enterprises in Dumfries that will serve the community. One important lesson we are walking away with is that we must focus on how we will put a building to use, rather than solely on saving a building itself. There are a number of at-risk historic buildings in Dumfries that could be preserved through grant funding so long as sustainable business plans are developed to put those buildings to use.
With this in mind, we are planning to focus on scaling down the business ideas we’ve been working on and find good places for them throughout Dumfries. Each of us will continue to collaborate and support each other while working on social enterprises aligned with our unique interests:
Felix will continue growing Deep Green Space, a local charity that he set up to bring people together to transform gardens and green spaces around Dumfries, including the convent cemetery clean-up project.
Phil is working with other writers in Dumfries to open The Wobbly Shelf, an independent bookshop, publisher and writing centre. For further details, follow The Wobbly Shelf on Facebook.
Emily leads the We Agree On Eggs artist collective and has a plethora of artistic projects underway throughout Dumfries and Galloway. You can stay in the loop by following We Agree On Eggs on Facebook and Instagram.
Gaby is involved with Food For All as well as helping several charities with fundraising throughout the UK.
Thank you for all of your support as we pursued this crazy convent idea.
See you downstream,
Felix, Phil, Emily and Gaby