June 20, 2013
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.
Continued from Indianapolis, Day 2 (Part I)
The space that took us out of the city was Launch Fisher’s. Megan from Indy CoZ actually referred this space to us (thanks Megan!). Fisher’s is a suburb in Hamilton County that has grown consistently in population and constantly on top lists such as “best places to live” or “safest place to live”. This visit would take Scottie and I 30 minutes north east of Indy, but we were so close that we just had to make the visit.
Upon arrival, it was a bit confusing to get from the parking lot to the front entrance. And when we got to the front entrance, we realized we were going into a library. And when we got to the library, the information desk was glad to point us in the right direction. The Fisher’s Library itself was already very impressing, so I couldn’t wait to see what this space had in store.
I always thought that coworking was the the next step in the evolution of libraries. With all of the resources and information that a library can offer coworking, and the utilization that coworking can offer a library, it would be…organic.
Behind every great man, there is a great Mama!
Organic is a term that echoed in my head after meeting with Launch Fisher’s founder, John Wechsler. Even though we just dropped in, John was eager to talk with us. “If you think about it, this has been almost 10 years investment.” Originally, John wanted to start a coworking space back in 2007. However, with the launch and success of Formspring in 2009, he had to follow the company’s expansion to California, and was just recently able to move back to Indiana. The space opened in 2012, unexpectedly as a non-profit, as part of the town’s effort to organically create startup activity. “They see this sort of space as community infrastructure, just as a road or bridge would be.” John described this as organic economic development. By providing space for startups (a previously empty library), in a region where startups have resources to grow (surrounding industry of Indianapolis, as well as central location of US), in a town where this ecosystem can take place (a growing population for the needed labor force), growth will be sustainable.
The work bar. John made the backing from repurposed book shelves, sourced from the library upstairs!
In building the space, John has gone with function, then form. Launch Fisher’s was designed to be configurable, and accomodate people without having to crowd everyone to do it. In the 16,000sq.ft. space, there is a coffeeshop+cafe area, couch lounge, general workspace area with desks, couches, and bar stool seating, a stage area (which is level with the ground and is used as a general workplace couch area when not in use), six phone booths (with soundproofing), a 100 person conference room + 50 person meeting room (both can be configurable to connect or disconnect with each other)…whew!
Yes, they even have a treadmill desk.
Events are held in this space so the general work area can remain available to working members), four 4-person rooms, one 8-person room, a 20-person room, a printing/mail system area, gallery space, and restrooms. There is also a room sectioned off for dedicated desk space. With 200 members, it seems like it’s a pretty successful formula.
If it weren’t already a great enough place, I ran into Jackie Mills – a classmate from Hanover. Jackie is one of those people who restore your faith in humanity. She was always a positive influence for me, and it was very fortuitous that John mentioned that she was a member and working there that day. She is now a researcher at Enterprise Strategies, and has even worked out of the Speak Easy.
Crowdsourcing flyering efforts.
On the drive back to Indianapolis, Scottie and I couldn’t stop talking about what we had just saw. As an example of organic economic development, it was eye-opening to see the analogous theory in action, AND seeing it executed successfully. With so much emphasis on “Buy Local” and “Organic” production means back home, it’d be nice to see more of this application in Honolulu.
Be sure to visit their website for more pics and event info!
Yes, that is a flying cupcake…The Flying Cupcake Bakery, to be exact!
Indianapolis at dusk, from the Old National Centre
After six spaces in two days, I was finally finished! Now it was play time. Mark, his boyfriend Corby, and I were on our way to First Friday’s in Fountain Square when Mark goes: “I feel like going food trucking.” And as Mark’s luck would have it, we passed the Old National Center, and there it was – FIRST FRIDAY FOODTRUCK FEST (presented by Leinenkugel)! The trucks lined up along the sides, serving everything from cupcakes to delux mac and cheese, and bbq.
Mobile clothes boutique, Retro 101 (@shopretro101)
There was even a boutique bus and corporate booths (such as Verizon and a Spring charging station). We chose the fried catfish and fried chicken sandwich, each coming with sides of coleslaw, fries, and spicy dipping sauce. The batter was not too thick, the oil was clean (in the same way that Honolulu’s Phuket Thai calamari and friend chicken are), and the catfish did not taste like dirt, letting the flavors and spices come through with a sensational amount of crunch.
The catfish plate from Chef Dan’s Southern Comfort Foodtruck with Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
The coleslaw reminded me of my grandma’s – light on the mayo, and slightly sweet. Sitting next to the boutique bus under the parking lot foliage with our home-fried meals and Leinenkugel’s, it was a perfect summer picnic. It also made me anxious for the next Eat the Street!
Cultured Swirl in Fountain Square
After our food truck fill, we suddenly stopped off at the Cultured Swirl to feed our sweet teeth. An organic, home-made, customer caring establishment, the Cultured Swirl opened just this year. After the first sample, I couldn’t help but have a little of all six flavors (Dutch chocolate, strawberry, pomegranate berry, pineapple, mango, and vanilla).
Yes, fresh cut bacon.
Their condiment bar was stocked with organic goodies as well, and they even kept the peanut butter topping heated…HEATED peanut butter, people! I’ve never felt so loved as a customer. They also installed large swings in the store shop window for patrons to sit in, and a backyard area that connected to a pizza joint. Was there anything that could have made it perfect? Probably live music…which they had! I would go back to Indianapolis just to be ‘cultured’ again.
Outside of Murphy’s
For the night’s finale, we stopped at Murphy’s Art Center (which I just realized is owned and managed by Deylen Realty). It is a multi-level building repurposed from the G.C. Murphy’s department store. The building itself was constructed in the 1880’s, became Murphy’s in 1951, then closed down in 1998. It started its re-purpose as an arts and community center, but began to decline in 2006.
One of the rooms in Murphy, with a band and a bar.
Then in 2009, Craig and Larry Von Deylen became the new owners and managers, and had the spaces on the second and third floors completely leased. At full occupancy, there are over dozens of rooms with tenants ranging from The Red Lion Grog House, to the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Arts, and even Blackline Studio.
Whimsical Funk’s 99 Bottles of Funk on the Wall, Upland Brewery room
Upland Brewery has their marketing office there, and was hosting IndyCog‘s $3 pint fundraiser to promote their Indianapolis ride guide map. We also stopped in People for Urban Progress (upcycling and innovation it’s finest!) and a few galleries as well.
The door of the Upland Brewery room
Indianapolis seemed to be good at this repurposing thing – Murphy’s, the Platform, and even the Speak Easy are all repurposed buildings. Something to note when going through the rinse-reuse-recycle process for structures and spaces.
Next city: Bloomington, IN