I arrive at Creative Density
in Uptown and meet Craig Bauté, Founder and Community Manager.
“I moved here in April 2011 and we opened six weeks later,” he says. “I designed it for different work styles so each room has a different feel. People can work how they want to work.”
He takes me through the lounge — the only space with music — to an adjoining space where people were focused on their assorted screens. Out back was the bike room and a parking lot with four spaces.
“I have a button that says ‘Fuck the Hyphen,'” adds Bauté of the co-working/coworking schism. I calmly tell him I’m on his side.
Upstairs are a number of separate office spaces, a few private and a few open to Creative Density’s standard members.
“Downstairs is more wide open and upstairs has more nooks and crannies,” says Bauté.
He tells me about the building’s history as a duplex, then a pot dispensary, then a coworking space.
Creative Density has 38 members. Memberships range from $75 for one day a week to $300 for a private desk to $750 for a private office. “On an average day, we have 15 to 20 people working here,” he adds.
One tenant, Mile High Business Alliance, downsized to accommodate employee’s remote working. “They went from 1,300 square feet to 150 square feet — and they grew,” says Bauté. “They all can work remotely. They just want the community.”
“We’re branded as the social coworking space, ” Bauté says. “We’re trying to serve the freelancers and remote workers from the isolation of working from home. Our slogan is ‘Working Alone Sucks,’ but it should have a ‘…sometimes.’ Our three days a week is our most popular membership package.”
Bauté says he’s planning to partner with property owners to open “powered by Creative Density” locations and is looking at the Denver Tech Center and the Highlands. “If it seems viable, I’ll do the marketing and train the staff,” he explains.
After the tour, I settle into a seat in the lounge area.
10:11 a.m. Creative Density’s art spans all of Denver’s neighborhoods.
I need to find at least four innovation and jobs stories for Confluence. I have one —Inspirato
— but there is a content vacuum on the horizon if I don’t act fast. I don’t want to get sucked into it.
Bauté is working across from me. “How many articles to you write?” he asks.
“Maybe 10 a week?” I reply. “Some are pretty short.”
He tips me off to a potential subject for one, Cyclops Gear. That’s three stories in 15 minutes.
I find a fifth — The Roost
— on Kickstarter. Time to move on to interviews and writing.
Why do some companies make it so hard to tell what city they are based in on their website? That is my biggest pet peeve as a journalist.
Three others are working in the lounge. They are all standing as they work. I am sitting. I’m going to stand.
I stand up.
I meet one of the other standing workers, Justin Schaffer. His day job is with Do Stuff Media
, promoting music festivals, and his night job is Terra Nova Games
, developing an Arthurian-esque card game called Guile
Schaffer tells me he moved to Denver from Austin last fall and now works for Do Stuff Media remotely. Why Creative Density? “It’s a great way to get out of the house,” he answers.
Why Denver? “It’s too damn hot in Austin.”
I talk with another of my fellow standers, Joel Jacobson, an attorney with Rubicon Law
who works at Creative Density three days a week. He worked for a Detroit company from Creative Density before moving to Rubicon, and asked if he could continue. “They were fine with it,” he says. “They like to leverage technology like Google Hangout.”
Jacobson tells me that I should take a break with Schaffer, Bauté and him out front. “You have to join us for a game of washers,” he says. “It’s kind of a tradition around here.”
11:45 a.m.Craig Baute chucks a washer on a break.
Schaffer and I pair off against Jacobson and Bauté. Schaffer carries me — I can’t hit the broad side of a coworking space — and we lose. I’m very rusty. My washers game has been in the shed since last summer.
I have a call with James Olander of The Roost.
Call is over. My stomach is growling but there’s not enough time to hit Watercourse Foods
— conveniently located around the corner — before a 1 p.m. call.
I order a bat house
to do my part to help with the world’s rapidly declining bat populations.
Call with Inspirato.
Now I’m really hungry. I wander over to Watercourse, grab a seat at the bar and order a Tivoli and a breakfast burrito. I haven’t been here in a while.
I strike up a conversation with the fellow seated at the barstool to my right about the marijuana ads in Westword.
The guy seated to his right starts talking politics.
The guy to my right responds, “I just think the world needs more gravy.”
The guy to his right rails off on multinational corporations.
“What they need is gravy.”
He really likes his biscuits and gravy.
I steer the conversation away from gravy and into concerts at Red Rocks this summer. He highlights The Princess Bride at Film On The Rocks. “It’s one of the top five films of all time but nobody talks about it,” says the gravy aficionado. I find out his name is Ernest.
My breakfast burrito arrives. I am psyched. Ernest asserts that green chile qualifies as gravy. Maybe he is right about what the world needs.
Ernest and I continue to discuss the top five films of all time, hitting the usual suspects likeCitizen Kane and The Godfather as well as darker horses like The Royal Tenenbaums,Fargo and Taxi Driver.
Ernest throws in his wild cards: The Big Chill and High Fidelity. I can’t go top five on either, but I do mention how my friend Kat looked directly at the camera as an extra in the latter’s final shot. He says his friend did the same thing in Dumb and Dumber.
That might be a top five. Wait, what about David Lynch?
I’m back at Creative Density for the final stretch of the workday.
Bauté arrives. “Are you working today or just faking it? I’ve read some of your other stories.”
I assure him I’m not faking it today.
We discuss washers. “That’s our 10- to 15-minute break,” he says. Washers are perfect for that. You get up, you go outside, you move around.”
What about winter? “People do push-ups.”
The mid-afternoon lull. I struggle to maintain my dwindling focus.
Schaffer packs to leave.
I double down and start writing.
I finish one news story.
I finish another.
I start packing and have a few last words with Bauté.
“How many people do you work with here?” I ask.
“Just me,” he says. “It’s a one-man bureaucracy.”
He tells me he’d never been to Denver but set his sights on it in 2010 and registeredDenverCoworking.com
, where he had online polls to determine Creative Density’s neighborhood and amenities.
“We were built off of the voices of the people who work here,” he says. “We’re going to have a new page on the website so people can vote on a new location.”
One last game of washers, and it’s time to hit the road.