Pittsburgh, PA

By Britney T-M

Pittsburgh
TRIPPIN’ is a summer blog series featuring coworking spaces, as BoxJelly intern Britney T-M travels to attend George Mason University’s Social Innovation Program. Follow the trip on Google Maps.

**I am no longer on the mainland (and also no loner an intern). The remainder of this series is written from BoxJelly .

So there are unexpected occurrences in life. Example: all my interviews from this trip being deleted. Another example: A July 4th wedding that called me back to Indiana, and a 5-hour Greyhound layover along the way. But it’s ok, because I ain’t ever been to Pittsburgh!

As soon as I realized I would be laid over for 5 more hours, I looked up coworking spaces. And that’s the beauty of the movement as it presently is. Pop up and drop in – people understand the needs of a clean well lighted place for the traveler/remote worker/lone worker.

The nearest space to the Greyhound station was StartUptown. I called, spoke with Dale about visiting, and was on my way! Uptown is a decrepit part of Pittsburgh, with neighborhoods riddled with crime, poverty, and unfortunate situations. But Uptown is also one of the areas located in the Pittsburgh Central Keystone Innovation Zone (PCKIZ). Thus, as Dale was converting this 12,000sq.ft. building into what would eventually be a coworking space, he was able to access funding to build a place for startup companies and small businesses. And that’s where the name came from – StartUptown – a play on words between Uptown, start up companies, and starting up the community.

Now nine months later, I can’t remember the details of our conversation, but I do remember two things…

It was a long conversation.
Good story talking is always going to be long. But truly, it was a testament to Dale’s generous spirit. He dismissed phone alerts, politely paused the conversation to talk to members, and introduced even the interns; community building and space cultivation can be such an art form.

The municipality plays a great role in the coworking space.
When Dale told me about PCKIZ really illustrated the ways a municipality contributes to the environment of the coworking space. His intern was paid through PCKIZ, which I thought was pretty cool (that it was at no cost to StartUptown, and the fact that interns get paid at all).

If it weren’t for the dysfunction of the Greyhound, I never would have been to Pittsburgh; and if it weren’t for coworking, I never would have had that conversation with Dale. The story of StartUptown opened our dialogue to conversation that I still cite and question, well after returning to BoxJelly.