211Info: color transforms an empty warehouse

A couple of months ago I had the privilege of assisting a terrific community service agency, 211info, with their move into what had been essentially an empty warehouse. Here’s the story in the words of 211info’s executive director, Liesl Wendt…

211info is an independent non-profit that connects the people of Oregon and Southwest Washington with the community services they need.

Our agency relies on a forward-looking resource department to maintain a continually updated database of community resources, which is linked to our community information center. This enables our compassionate specialists to help callers navigate an often-confusing system of social services.

When we moved from a downtown Portland office building to a green-retrofitted eastside building in December, we had the opportunity to be mindful in setting the tone for the work environment. But there were some challenges:

  • The resource and outreach staff members would be working in a windowless basement but wanted an energetic, cheerful space.
  • The community information center staff, whose jobs can be emotionally draining, wanted a calm environment.
  • The building itself presented interesting challenges. It’s funky, with corrugated metal, exposed fixtures of all sorts, and reclaimed windows and wood from the ReBuild Center.
  • Our budget was decidedly limited. A colorful paint palette was the affordable solution.

We floundered – trying to choose colors that would meet all our criteria: “Trendy! Warm! Energetic! Calming! Hip but not likely to be outdated in five years!”  One of our staff members suggested we call Joy Overstreet at Joyful Spaces for help with the colors.

With Joy’s assistance, we’ve created a wonderful space with colors that reflect who we are. The Community Information Center works amid calming shades of spring green and periwinkle blue. My office is elegant and energetic with a gorgeous shade of rosy red on one wall. And in the basement, the resource center’s mood is entirely different, with a warm shade of yellow and a welcoming vibe.
211info Call Center. Colors by Joyful Spaces, Joy Overstreet, Portland OR

Originally we had chosen light colored workstation furniture, but Joy recommended black instead, to unify and anchor the spaces – and it does. She said that in feng shui black represents the water element – a symbol of vocation – which is perfect for an agency that is all about calling.

Our colors are the most commonly commented-upon feature of the new building. People rave about them. And the basement (! ) has become a gathering space for staff at break times because it has such a nice feel.

Joy took on the challenge of transforming an empty shell into a home for 211info and we’re thrilled with the result.

– Liesl Wendt,  211Info Executive Director

If you’d like assistance transforming your workplace into a joyful space, give me a call – in the Portland/Vancouver metro area: 360-314-2467. I’d love to help!

To find out more about this great agency, check out the 211info website. Soon they’ll have additional pictures from the makeover on their blog.


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