Commanding Chaos for Coworking, Open Source and Creative Communities

June 2010 Posts

What makes a Coworking space great?

Wed, 06/16/2010 - 07:07 -- rprice

Today I saw a very happy post by CoLab Orlando for getting mentioned on a blog for entrepreneurs. The blog had named Orlando a top city to start a company, and this was a follow-up list of Coworking movements in those top cities. Orlando squeaked by with a grand total of one space describing their offering as coworking.

From 53 Coworking Centers in the Top Cities for Entrepreneurs:

Of course while bootstrapping a business every entrepreneur is looking for ways to keep what little money they do have but build an empire at the same time. Coworking is a relatively new option for business owners when it comes to getting office space.

If you don’t already know coworking centers are places that allow you to rent a desk, office, or simply come to hangout in an open room with other business owners doing the same thing. The centers will offer wifi, coffee, comfortable furniture, printing and of course an innovative setting. You have to signup for one of their packages that could range from $10 for a day pass to a few hundred dollars to rent your own desk for the month and a variety of options in between.

Whatever you do it becomes a cheaper and often more comfortable and innovative setting then renting your own private office space.

Very nice, I can save some money. I was glad to see the list of spaces so long - 53 spaces in 10 cities - but I was not very happy at their coworking sales pitch.

Edit: Plus there is a picture of a bunch of folks at a Jelly working in someone's living room (I assume JellyNYC). That's fine. There was even a token female in the picture. I was not too sure this screamed "entrepreneurship".

My reply:

Your description of Coworking is abysmal. It does not lend any help to differentiating Coworking from a shared desk, pay-as-you-go office environment.

One of the most important things about a great coworking space is the safe atmosphere it creates for collaboration and mentoring.

At a coffee shop, I can't turn to the person next to me and ask their opinion on something, or brainstorm an idea for my project - they would look at me funny.

At many shared desk environments, it's dog-eat-dog, and if two people are in the same business, they'd be in direct competition, and likely stealing clients from each other.

Since the coworking space is more collegial, you can share that project with your potential competition, or hand it to him when you get to busy, and he might be inclined to hand the next one to you.

Also, the vibe of a great coworking space is hard to match, even at most places that use the term "Co-Working" somewhere in their sales pitch. The collected energy, passion, and raw talent is often dripping from the walls. There are many spaces where people are not just getting started, they're putting down roots.

Since I'm involved in creating a space with Coworking elements right now, I feel like I am a bit more touchy about this subject than otherwise.

P.S. If you haven't taken the Urban Re-Think Survey yet, I'd love it if you did. It would really help us out.

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Orlando Arts Scene: Trolling on Yelp

Sat, 06/12/2010 - 07:39 -- rprice

I've been spending the morning setting up my new EVO and checking out the Android Market applications. However, this post is not a review of my new HTC phone. While I was adding the Yelp app I decided to head over to Yelp.com and look at what's been going on. I saw this discussion headline:

Orlando Art Scene 1 hour ago

...and I just had to read it and leave my two cents.

There was a comment by Colleen B, the local community manager for Yelp. Then there was a comment by Neon F, whom I know to be Neon Forest, a new art gallery opening up down the street from me next week.

At the end of Neon's post, there was this line:

Orlando Art Fair 2011, who's on board? I'll help get it organized...let's see who's really motivated

Ouch. One of my pet peeves is people who say "hey, let's start something huge and complicated!" It's one reason why I tread lightly before agreeing to work with a startup company, and why many of the emails I'm sent about building some crazy website go into the Archive bin pretty quickly.

Then I started Trolling. I probably was too extreme in my commenting, but I tried to add some positive stuff in there too:

Please don't start any more big festival events, Dustin. ( I assume you're Dustin, anyway )

I think there are enough nascent efforts that just need some support and people to shout about them in bullhorns.

Before I go on, I want to say I'm very glad you're opening a gallery in this neighborhood. The Orange/Michigan/SoDo/Conway area really needs some more culture and nightlife.

I think one problem our scene has is that people decide to start something new without really taking the time to become involved with all the other events that are out there.

The problem with starting YET ANOTHER new thing is that in order for these large events to be successful, they require more than one person to be involved. A micro-scene. At this point, so many people have started their own scenes, they are all spread too thin.

The only way to make sure people aren't spread too thin, without any of these events dying off, is to add new people into the system. One great way to get new people involved is by having events that are so large and well-established that the word of mouth brings in all kinds of new people, particularly the haters and out-of-towners Colleen mentioned in her original post.

::phew:: Sorry about that. I think you hit on a sore spot.

I'm really looking forward to coming to your gallery. I'll be out of town for the opening, but I'm not far away. I am pretty close by.

Too harsh?

I would just really like if there were fewer people saying "I'm starting" or "I just started" or "can you help me with"; I'd rather hear "we've been doing" or "can you give us some help with?".

It's not to say I've never wanted to start something new, or big, or complicated, or naive, but I just hope my comments can make more than a few people pause and think about exactly what it is they're committing to.

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Re-Thinking Urban Think, Fill out this Survey

Tue, 06/08/2010 - 12:48 -- rprice

In the past few months, Downtown Orlando and Thornton Park lost a great gem - the one independent bookstore within miles of town. The Urban Think! Bookstore was a community-minded, education-focused, welcoming, original, and fun place to be. The many iterations of the store over the years, including the kids bookstore, the cafe, and even local vendors selling baked goods, handmade items, and other local goodies made it an exemplary space for other local businesses to emulate.

Urban Re-Think

In March, Urban Think! closed its doors after 8 years. A few years ago, their education and children's programs spawned the Urban Think! Foundation and Page 15, their first project. Now a new project is beginning, dubbed Urban Re-Think for now. I have been involved with several preliminary meetings with Julia young, the executive director of Page 15, and Darren McDaniel, the former Programming Director for the Downtown Media Arts Center. There are many other people involved, such as the Urban Think! Foundation's Board of Directors, and Katie Ball, local pot-stirrer, and star of public radio. I'm sure the list will grow beyond blog-post length before long.

Right now, we have reached a point where we want to reach out to you, the Orlando community, and find out what you'd like to get out of a community center in the heart of Downtown. There are lots of benefits to the location and the involvement of the people who have been brought in so far, and it can only get better.

For myself, I'm looking to gain a place to work, hold meetings, events, provide training, meet my creative peers and role-models, and continue to support the community in any way I can. If we had a clubhouse, a place where we could feel safe, and where we had control, I think we could build something really amazing.

I've got all kinds of fun ideas, but before this becomes Ryan's own personal Urban Think!, I'd like to point you to our survey. Please check it out, and take a few minutes to tell us about you, your creative pursuits, and how this community center might help you reach your goals, and take away a few of the road blocks we all face.

Take the Survey

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