In September, I had the opportunity to hang out with Alex Hillman in Vienna, Austria at the wedding of our mutual friends Amy Hoy and Thomas Fuchs, and while Alex and I had peripherally known of each other, we hadn’t had a chance to actually meet and talk. It turned out we were both staying at the same hostel, and as a result we had a chance to talk about a bunch of stuff from projects to Alex’s pioneering work in developing coworking at IndyHall in Philadelphia.
I’d known about coworking and its evolution since 2007; in fact I talked with Noel Hidalgo on video about the concept in Berlin in July 2007, along with Travis Todd, but while I liked the idea of coworking I didn’t really have a way to put it in practice yet.
Well, after seeing events like SocialDevCamp, Ignite Baltimore, and TwinTech take root here in the Baltimore area, it became clear to me that the time was also ripe for coworking in Baltimore. As I shared the idea with friends and colleagues, it was clear that we could build momentum around the concept quickly.
So, on Saturday and with Alex’s help, we held a session on coworking at SocialDevCampEast2, and we went over the key concepts behind coworking, answered some questions, and by the end of the session had created a mailing list. Yesterday we held the first “official” Baltimore coworking session at Bluehouse, and we expect to keep that up every Tuesday and Thursday until we establish a more permanent home.
Of all the insights that Alex has gained in running IndyHall, I’d say this is the most important: “If IndyHall, as a place, ceased to exist tomorrow, IndyHall would still exist as a community.” And this is truly key. Too often, people get distracted with the particulars of a piece of real estate or a locale or amenities; none of that is central to the mission. The most important thing is the community and the ideas they share. There will always be a place where that community can take root.
That being said, we are looking at various ways to give coworking in Baltimore a more permanent home, and we have a bunch of ideas about how to do that. If you would like to be in on that conversation, I invite you to join the Coworking Baltimore Google Group. And of course, stop by Bluehouse next week on Tuesday or Thursday, between 10am and 4pm!
Feel free to contact me with ideas or questions about coworking and how we can establish a sustainable, vibrant creative community here in Baltimore! I’m really looking forward to working with all of you.