Recently the Business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer featured Independents Hall
. In simplest terms, it is a coworking
space. My partner Alex Hillman
and I consider community to be an important component in this project.
Community is a word that is thrown about quite often and so it has lost some of its impact. Let me try to define a piece of it that is important to me in this endeavor.
I see Independents Hall
as a "better incubator." The current incubator model, that I am aware of, gives space and resources to a group of people trying to grow a business idea. By the time they get in an incubator, they often have a business plan written up. Sometimes they have funding. In general, though, they have an idea that they want to turn into a business. Most incubator spaces require that you have a plan for a business, or they will not let you lease a space.
To be a member of Independents Hall, you do not have to have a business plan or even an idea for a business. Jane Jacobs's
notion of the city sidewalk as a place where you happen upon people, and out of these chance occurrences, new ideas and opportunities arise is closer metaphor for Independents Hall.
Incubation of new ideas and opportunities is meant to happen organically at Independents Hall.
Robert Fulford noted
that "Jacobs came down firmly on the side of spontaneous inventiveness of individuals, as against abstract plans imposed by governments and corporations," Spontaneous inventiveness is something that artists are very much in tune with in their problem solving process.
As an artist, this is the approach I used in planning the space with Alex. This spirit also pervades daily existence in the space. Artists know that you don't need to solve every problem in advance. You don't have to have a plan for everything. Instead, you need to place yourself in inspiring circumstances and then trust yourself that you will know what do when the opportunity arises.
Community creates a supportive environment for people to take chances, to innovate and to make positive changes in our world. When I talk about community and Independents Hall, that is what I mean.