Cape Cod Times, June 25, 2006
by Amanda Lehmert,
WOODS HOLE -
Nicole Gabai is an affable cheerleader type. All perk and positive
encouragement, the consultant came to the creatively disheveled
office of the Woods Hole Film Festival ready to straighten up, clear
out and most important - organize.
the film festival's executive director, needed another cup of
months prepping for a frenzied eight days every summer. The
organization's office - a cramped spot above the Woods Hole Market
on Water Street - was stuffed with festival merchandise, props, all
manner of film production equipment and paper, paper, paper.
The space -
which also serves as an office for a local architect, a landscaping
company and a flip-flop distributor - needed to function as a
boardroom, an editing suite, a reception area for filmmakers and
media, and a storage space.
by Paul Blackmore / Cape Cod Times
But when Gabai
showed up on a Sunday morning this spring, it was more funk than
''We've organized mostly by the clump method,'' Laster explained to
Gabai, a professional organizer and owner of the Falmouth consulting
around the 14-by-12-foot room at an endless number of plastic
containers overflowing with T-shirts or DVDs or extension cords,
stuffed next to old boxes, unused furniture and a glass head.
Gabai, who had
already launched into her organizational doctrine calling for things
to be designated to different zones, listened politely.
heard of clumps,'' she said.
things that go together in clumps. It's similar to piles, but
they're in plastic containers,'' Laster deadpanned. ''A lot of
people relate to clumps.''
whatever she wants to call it, Gabai saw a knot waiting to be
And a lot of
junk that should be in a Dumpster.
started her career working in television production at MTV, ran her
organizational consulting business in New York before moving to the
Cape last year. She's spent years developing a questionnaire to
determine exactly what a client will need to get a business in
For the film
festival, like many businesses, they needed a process for their
paper. The festival pushes a lot of it, from brochures to tourist
pamphlets to press information.
like, what do we do with all our old paper?'' Laster lamented, after
Gabai asked about boxes full of paperwork.
''Is there a
reason to keep it?''
Laster was a
tough cookie. But Gabai didn't relent. She started dismantling.
space will get messier before it gets neater,'' she said.
a stepladder and took boxes off high shelves. She moved piles of
stuff around the Smurf blue floor. She cheerfully ticked off the
Don't keep it
if you don't need it.
Store it if you don't use it every day.
The heaviest boxes should be stored on the lowest shelves.
with her own label maker - the Brother P-Touch that she recommends
to all her clients. Only $39.99. Available at Staples.
nerds have label makers,'' Laster said.
Gabai was not
She could see
Laster's desperate attempt to calm the madness around her - a
sarcastically threatening sign declaring the space a ''no-rummage
zone,'' demanding that the cast of volunteers who run the festival
keep away from the stuff rather than dive into things to find what
they need. She knew Laster needed a real system.
''I believe if the system is clear, everyone can follow it,'' Gabai
A toss pile
grew. Priorities were set. Suddenly, the communications station with
a fax machine and space for walkie-talkies emerged from a corner
where it was once buried.
The pair took
an interior design break to hang a 3-foot-wide coffee-cup-shaped
clock - a prop from Laster's film ''Automatic Drip'' (a movie about
coffee drinkers featuring zombies). It had been wedged in the midst
of an extensive DVD and VHS collection. Now it was a focal point
above the festival's computer.
got into it. She acted vaguely disappointed when the labeler ran out
really a lot more space now than you originally thought,'' Gabai
challenge,'' Laster said.
''It's not an
Weeks later -
after Gabai and festival folks spent hours tossing and rearranging -
the cozy office looked spiffy. The shelves were neat. Some old,
unused equipment was set aside to be given away. Floor space had
emerged where there were once ''clumps'' of miscellaneous stuff.
piles had been tamed for the most part, although Gabai was still
prodding Laster to junk some of the old paperwork. But it's starting
to get close to the festival time, and free time for organization
has all but dried up.
proud of the process, which has made the space function better. The
true test will be when the festival begins July 29.
you have to convince the client to take their medicine,'' she said.
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