Coworking Europe: this is big.

 

I just returned from an excursion to France, where the start of my trip was completely absorbed with the Coworking Europe Conference in Paris. They call it a coworking conference, but I can tell you confidently that when this group of people got together – 300 people representing 30 nationalities – the conference was about much more than just coworking.

The bulk of conversations surrounding this 3-day event were about connecting to the higher purposes of coworking. How coworking fits into a bigger conversation about our changing world – economically, politically, and socially. We discussed how coworking is – amongst other things – a manifestation of changes we are a part of in every corner of the world.

Coworking and jobs. We heard from Tony Bagicaglupo, Mayor of New Work City, about the ever-evolving “why” of coworking. When so many of us started our spaces, the “why” of coworking was to bring together a community of independent workers who were otherwise isolated in their homes and cafes. But as our spaces evolve, and as coworking spaces from around the world connect, share, and collaborate, we are learning that the “why” of coworking is becoming much, much bigger. For Tony, the “why” has now become a channel through which we can work to fix the job crisis ourselves. His rallying cry to the independent workforce of the world is to stop waiting around for jobs to “be created” by big companies, and instead create the jobs ourselves.

Coworking and political action. Joel Dullroy of Deskmag highlighted the increasing population of freelancers during his presentation on Day 2, and called out coworking spaces as “new political meeting houses” for the independent workforce. For the independent workforce (Joel was speaking specifically about freelancers, but I believe similar conclusions can be drawn to any independent), coworking spaces provide a gathering place and a sharing platform in addition to being a place to work. While on a day-to-day basis this might enable independents to work better and connect with others, coworking spaces also provide a rallying point for independents when they may need it most. He ran us through the story of Germany’s proposed €350 “retirement tax” on freelancers, and how through the power of grassroots organizing (in part via coworking spaces) freelancers were able to raise their voices and strike down the tax.

Coworking and community resilience. I was a part of many conversations about the art of cultivating a coworking community, the beauty of multiple communities emerging out of one coworking space, and how cultivating community is a skill worth learning beyond just it’s implications in the coworking world. The value of a strong, diverse community is possible to see on a day-to-day basis in the form of vibrant conversations, the sharing of skills, and the joy of shared experience. But the power of community is highlighted in an incredibly powerful sense when it is able to demonstrate it’s resilience. Tony Bagicaglupo started off his talk reviewing the quick response by coworking spaces in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in New York. We often talk about how a coworking community isn’t about the space it is in, and Tony gave us a clear view of that truth in practice.

I could continue to wax on and on about the many lessons I learned in Paris and I likely will for years to come. But know this – I’ll definitely be at Coworking Europe 2013. This is a conference not to be missed.

Big thanks to Tilman Vogler and Deskwanted for the use of these photos from Coworking Europe! 

 

 

Open House Success!

Wow! The January Open House was a great time!  Thanks to everyone who stopped by.  It was great to see everyone and catch up.happy

For those of you who missed out, I understand the weather was rather terrible that evening.  But, you missed out on some pretty spectacular fun.  Josh, from Bluebird Ice Cream, scooped out some incredible ice cream for everyone to try.  He very quickly ran out of the vegan coconut mint chocolate chip and there was a good reason why.  I had no idea vegan ice cream could be so fantastic!  The Stumptown ice cream and the snickerdoodle were also really delicious and it was all finished off by the time the night came to a close.    Mychal Richardson’s photography was a great conversation piece and had many people quietly going from one photo to the next reading about how each individual pictured fought for their rights.  I think we all came away inspired.  See more of his work on his website or stop by and check them out!

A big thanks must also go to Andy Aupperlee of Explosion 5000.  He took over the Green Room and shot portraits of our Open House attendees and their New Years Resolutions.  The results are rather amazing and you should make sure to read about it on his website and look at his Flickr page.

A big thanks to all of you who could come out.  Hopefully see you all at our next Open House!

Thanks to Flickr user Sukanto Debnath for use of the above photo through the Creative Commons License

Co-sponsored events are great!

What a crowd we had!

What a crowd we had!

Our fifth open house was a wonderful success! As we mentioned before, this was a highly co-sponsored event with several groups involved:

  • It was the Capitol Hill Greendrinks event, bringing together the Capitol Hill environmental community
  • Sustainable Capitol Hill was also a co-host, raising funds and getting more folks in the know about their presence on Capitol Hill
  • Expeditionary Art showed us that watercolors are not for wimps – Maria’s art created a big buzz around the event and drew lots of well-deserved attention
  • Out for Sustainability stepped onto the scene as a new organization at this event. This awesome crew is committed to connecting LGBT individuals who are committed to sustainability.
  • Other fantastic sponsors included Sierra Nevada, Snoqualmie Wines, Pizza Fusion, and Madison Market. We were so thankful for this excellent team who kept us well hydrated and well fed!

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why this event rocked, but one important lesson we were reminded of was how great it is for us to co-host our open houses. In October we did our first co-sponsored open house and took it to a whole new level in January. Co-sponsoring events with our open houses create a win for everyone involved – we get to mix communities of folks who may not have met up otherwise and to forge new partnerships in our neighborhood. We are humbled by the organizations we’ve teamed with so far, and look forward to seeing what will happen at our next open house. Any suggestions? Let us know – our next open house will be in April!

Local Coworking in the News

One of the things I love about working for a coworking business is the friendliness between the various coworking businesses. I think it’s a result of the fact that each group started the business in an effort to find community and this has extended to the WAY they do business.

So color us happy here at Office Nomads happy that our pals up at Giraffe Labs got some e-ink this morning in John Cook’s Venture Blog in the PI.

“A club house for big people.”

That’s how the folks at Giraffe Labs are describing a new work space in Pioneer Square, a 1,200 square foot location where artists can interact with engineers and computer scientists can write code next to musicians composing music.

I really like the collaborative focus of places like GL and StartPad which incubate start-ups. It’s comforting to know that the next big ideas are being worked on in the current big idea.

That said, I know from experience that just working near people is a form of colloboration even if we’re not “working together.” The distraction that others provide gives my brain a break and allows it to find a solution to problems on its own. It makes all those conversations I have with my office mates and the time I spend playing with the office dogs Stella and Cortez a form of work. (Read this article on insight in

the New Yorker if you don’t believe me.)