There’s public transport, but then, there’s the sharing economy. Juicy gave us access to a promo code for Lyft, so of course I was going to try it despite my Uber allegiances. Since the app wasn’t connecting me with my driver, I couldn’t tell him I pinned the wrong address (sorry, Paul!); so instead, I went with uberX. Seriously, I think I found my part-time job once it hits Honolulu.
“Cabbing” still didn’t save me nearly enough time between then and my 6:15pm Amtrak departure, but I HAD to meet David; he’s the founder, AND from Hawai’i! Sam (the driver) said he’d pause the meter and wait 10minutes. I gave myself 5.
Malcolm Gladwell talks about the reliability of first impressions, and a first impression is pretty much all that I got of Kleverdog (and that Kleverdog got of me). Comfortable, active, and creative are the first words that come to mind. And as much of a rush as I was in, David just smiled, laughed, and said he’d be looking forward to next time we could talk story. Looks like I’ll just have to make another trip to LA!
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Public transportation might not be the most reliable, it is one of the most effective forms to get to know the city and its people. Busses usually have bad raps for carrying bums and degenerates, but really, it carries everyone who can’t drive (i.e. the elderly and grade school children), or doesn’t want to drive (i.e. urban commuters, bicyclists, me).
Getting off the bus into Little Tokyo, I ran into Angel. She had been left by her husband, needed money for meds because she had an infection, and was [supposedly] pregnant. I couldn’t exactly make out her injury, but at one point I thought I could see straight through to her bones. I sympathized even more because she’s from Fountain Square in Indianapolis (just a bridge away from The Bureau, where I’m writing this now).
The thing about “bums and degenerates” is that they know their areas very well. Since I apparently can’t use [Google] maps, I threw Angel a $10 which I used to comfort my conscience, and for her to show me where I was going. How pretentious of me to think she didn’t know where I’d be talking about, because as soon as I said “Opodz” instead of “an office”, she immediately took me straight to the front door!
Opodz is fairly new, as well as the developments in and around Little Tokyo. In a lot of ways, Opodz reminded me of BoxJelly – our space size is about the same, number of members is about the same, and we even have some of the same bottles of scotch in our bars. But something Opodz is already experiencing that BoxJelly hasn’t yet is residential development. Because we’re in Kaka’ako, a redeveloping urban district of Honolulu, our neighbors are all businesses. There are some residences (a condo., an old folks home, and a homeless shelter), with more on the way (luxury high-rise condos), but seeing how Opodz was trying to build community made me wonder what’s in store as our neighborhood changes.
I got the same feeling as I did with NextSpace, in that Opodz was very neighborhood oriented. Lots of their members and inquiries come from people who live in Little Tokyo. They set up cafe seating outside, and offer free space for local artists to feature their work – such gallery space is not common in LA. But for being the new kid on the block, all their reserved desks were filled, their open desks were active, and there are a number of discounts that their members had to neighboring businesses. Looks like I have get on my neighborhood relations game once I get back!
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So there’s a lot of encouragement for public and alternative forms of transport, but I’d argue why we are still attached to cars is because of their reliability. It’s a lot easier to get back on the right path with a car. This thought would circle in my head as I was late for my next appointment with Jerome from Blankspaces.
It was somewhat serendipitous because I ended up going to the wrong Blankspaces location, and was able to see the first location at Mid-Wilshire. This is the space from which Jerome improved his model and design for the second Blankspaces location in downtown LA.
“So what about programming?”
“Ugh! Too much work. I’ve designed for that.”
“What about member communication?”
“Agh! Too much hassle. I’ve designed for that.”
“What about community culture?”
“Bah! I’ve designed for that too.”
*NOT direct quotations*
So those aren’t direct quotes, but it gets the gist. Jerome’s dismissiveness was about the inefficiencies of implementing all of those things. Of course, we know that all of those elements are essential, but what he’s designed has challenged me to shake off my own perceptions and assumptions of what is “necessary”, and to think about what really gets to the point of our initiatives. “People are ultimately here to work, not to socialize.” It’s quite bold, but ultimately, it’s true. The point for joining a coworking space is the same:Whether you’re unproductive working alone, or need an affordable alternative, you need to #GSD. It is the design of coworking spaces that services the intersection of different people, from different places, and from different industries. This design facilitates the common denominator in the way that they work. Every design is wrong and every design is right; but are members being productive in the environment created? Are they wanting to be in that environment? Does the community match the expectations of the coworking space, and vice versa?
Jerome also hosted a workshop at Juicy on architecture and design of coworking spaces. He’s got a lot going on with coworking associations, so I’d pay attention to LEXC and Coshare if you aren’t already familiar. Coworking – it’s coming to every city near to, and far from, you!
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LA was the first leg of the journey, with four spaces to get to before Amtrak-ing out to Kansas City! The first space was NextSpace in Venice. I’ve had my reserves about multi-locational spaces, always wondering how they foster the individual identity of each space and its community. But seeing the way Carl interacted with drop-ins and new members, and talking with him about the neighborhood developments, it became apparent that each NextSpace location is like the neighborhood coworking spot.
Across the street, Joe Silver is building a studio out of the old Post Office. Google opened its first office in Venice, which was soon followed by a migration of other companies and startups to the westside/Santa Monica area. The area is becoming a kind of crossroads between entertainment and tech, and has been dubbed ‘Silicon Valley’, which locals didn’t really appreciate, “…because we have our own identity that’s besides [Silicon Valley]”, Carl explained. Carl is someone who has lived in Venice Beach for over 16 years, and our conversation made me wonder – what is coworking’s role in gentrification? Perhaps it is a cause – facilitating the population that’s encroaching upon the neighborhood. Perhaps it is a result – an indication that there are already those now living in the area with higher income. Perhaps it is a buffer – providing current residents with the flexibility to work where they live. As for Carl, a long-time resident, NextSpace and coworking have provided him with a place to work (he is also a musician), and a job that he enjoys.
Watching the neighborhood go by from behind the large tinted windows, there was always a boarder or a bicycler. The sun was shining, and the beach was calling me from just two blocks away. To the land of bikes and boards, I had to bid Venice a dieu to head downtown; development is something that’s happening in Kaka’ako so I’m sure our conversations of neighborhoods and coworking will continue!
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Juicy Journals is a log of my trip for the Global Coworking Unconference. It’s been two years since Tony and Rechung attended Juicy, so I thought, “Why not me, in 2014!” To and from the unconference, I’ll be stopping where I can, and visiting spaces along the way. This is somewhat of an ode to last summer, and my failed attempts at the Millennial Trains Project. I hardly raised a fraction of my goal, but my two supporters and the MTP journey inspired me to jump on a train anyways (something I’ve been wanting to do since stumbling upon Silver Streak one late night on AMC).
Below are the cities and coworking spaces visited in the order of travel.
– GCUC | 5/1・5/2 ・5/3
– Spring Accelerator
– Google Fiber
– Nebula Coworking
– The Bureau
BoxJelly intern Britney here. Welcome to the first post of TRIPPIN’ – a summer series for the BoxJelly blog, featuring different coworking spaces I come across during my travels for George Mason University’s Social Innovation Program.
It’s amazing how time flies. In January, I thought, “Wow, I’m going all the way to Virginia to study social innovation!” In February, I wondered, “Wow, I can visit so many friends along the way!” Then in April, I said, “Wow, I should visit all these coworking spaces too!” So now I am.
These other spaces, what would they be like? How did they start up? Do they have free coffee and/or beer too? The who/what/where/when/why’s may be different, but all of us are taking off on the same coworking wave. Tomorrow I’ll be paddling out and seeing how others have navigated the industry swells.
During June and July, join me for my off-island jelly journey, TRIPPIN’ around the mainland!
7/3 PITTSBURGH: StartUp Town
7/19 – 26 PHILADELPHIA, PA: IndyHall, Culture Works
7/26 – 8/2 NEW YORK CITY, NY: New Work City
By Britney T-M
**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.
Last week, BoxJelly along with the guys from Bitcoin Hawaii celebrated the 5th anniversary of Bitcoin with Blockchain Bash: A Bitcoin birthday party. A good crowd of Bitcoin enthusiasts and newbies to crypto-currency came down. We gave away some free Bitcoin, donated Bitcoin to some charities, raffled and even sang happy birthday to the Blockchain. Here’s a few photos and tweets recapping the night. If you’re curious about Bitcoin, be sure to come to the next Bitcoin 101 monthly event hosted by Bitcoin Hawaii and BoxJelly on Thursday January 16th
Hawaii Shoots will be holding its last event of the year at our space with a free holiday party on December 10 from 7-9pm. Bring your latest toy for show-and-tell and join the conversation! There will be cool prizes from Hawaii Photo Rental, Hawaiian Airlines and yours truly. See you there!