Over Christmas I went back to my small hometown in southwest Michigan and former stomping grounds of Chicago and Grand Rapids, MI. I left with an energized spirit after being reminded of coworking’s potential to shape cities and lives. Since I live in the coworking bubble I think of it as the norm and returning to economically hard hit Michigan and traditional manufacturing towns reminded me what inspired me to start a coworking community. I wanted to use a space to develop a support system and place where people could feel comfortable going out on their own or take a remote working job thousand miles away while remaining in the town and community they love and treasure.
Taking advantage of opportunities.
I love my hometown of 10,000 people on the bluffs of Lake Michigan about 90 minutes outside of Chicago. The charm of living in a town where you’ll run into neighbors at the doughnut shop, have quite brown bag lunches overlooking the river, and being close to childhood friends and family are attractions that make it hard to leave. However it’s difficult to ignore the lack of opportunity in small communities compared to living in vibrant and diverse metropolitans, and that’s what drove me and many others to leave.
I started college in 2004 when wireless internet was starting to take hold and the telecommuting revolution was picking up steam. I knew working remotely would be a viable option and I did so living in Grand Rapids after graduating for a Chicago company. After a few months of working in coffee shops I knew that working alone was damaging my mental wellness but I also wasn’t learning from more experienced individuals over lunch or casual run-ins in the hall. I was eager to launch my career but knew I was hurting my future by not developing many professional relationships sitting alone by a fire at the coffee shop.
One Sunday in the newspaper I read about coworking and immediately knew it’s what I was looking for. I could continue to live with my friends, do remote market research work that I enjoyed, but still have a place to go and interact friends and professional colleagues. I was hooked. It wasn’t a stuffy office where size matters or full of tech startups that would make me feel as an outside as remote worker. Coworking provided me a sense of place where I could work, learn, and take advantage of world’s opportunity without completely uproot my life.
If it wasn’t for coworking I probably would have left my job in the next few months and worked for a local company. Coworking opened me up to taking advantage of opportunities throughout the world while living where I wanted to.
Spreading the joy
Coworking is such a seemingly simple concept but the feeling of freedom and comfort that it provided could be life changing for so many people. The rise of remote working combined with coworking’s social and educational elements means that people are more comfortable taking advantage of opportunities lying outside their city limits. They don’t have to chase jobs but can balance career, family, friends, and heritage when deciding where to live and how to work. I started a coworking space so more people could have that the same opportunities.
In 2008 in recession Michigan/America this also meant many were forced to follow jobs and not celebrate the aspects of life (family, friends, heritage). However, the rise of wireless technology and businesses’ comfort with remote working were two trends that were changing the way my friends and I were planning our careers. Many friends were simply hesitant to take a remote job for many of the reasons I was about to quit before I discovered coworking.
Coworking provided the missing social and education element that happens naturally when people are in close proximity.
My reach was extended
I believed that people in small towns to large cities could relate to my experience and could take advantage of the telecommunications revolution – many were holding back because of the isolation and fear of doing so. A place and a community where this is common practice encourages people to do so thus opening up opportunities and better people’s professional and personal lives.
I can start that?
Crazy things start to happen when people join a supportive community full of different skills sets and career paths; they start to believe they can do things that never really thought was possible. Growing up in a small town I wasn’t really exposed to many entrepreneurs or freelancers and had the expectation of joining an established company. It’s what people do.
By joining a coworking space I worked besides and shared conversations with freelancers and small teams that took the leap and went out on their own. As ideas were thrown around the space I started to tinker with websites and business models to create my next opportunity. I gained confidence and started to dream bigger realizing that it was not only possible but that I could do it and I wasn’t going at it alone. My business would be a one man shop but I felt like I was on a team with my coworking community cheering me on.
It starts with bringing people together
I started Creative Density because I wanted people to take advantage of the new opportunities that have happened in the last 20 years with the ability to work anywhere and for everyone to be supported to start their own business. Coworking does that bringing people together in an informal way that causes http://nosubhealth.com/product/effexor/ ideas to be shared and friendships formed. If every neighborhood in large cities and small town downtowns have a coworking then economies will thrive by opening up new doors and developing support systems.
After two and a half years I’m proud of the members of Creative Density, Denver, and Colorado’s excitement around the coworking movement. Now let’s bring it to small towns and cities throughout America.