Back in July, I received a ping from Patrick Tanguay from Station-C coworking in Montreal suggesting that we should band together and submit a panel for SXSW Interactive 08 (the conference at which we had met, in fact).


Over the course of the next week, we shared ideas and, with input from Chris and Tara of Citizen Space, about how we might approach this topic to be a bit more general to appeal to the entire audience. We came up with a title and synopsis!

Coworking and the evolution of the independent worker:
A few years ago everyone wanted to work from home. Now we realize, working alone sucks. What new resources and communities, both online and off, are enabling workers to really step up their game. Coworking spaces are opening everywhere and playing a central part in this new way of doing business.

After submitting the panel and having it voted on, weeks passed. Months passed. Panels began being picked and posted for the conference. Our expectations were set appropriately (we’d be first time SXSWi presenters), and we weren’t shocked to not hear back.

As the last few weeks have been filled with lots of twitter-chatter and question-asking about our SXSW plans, I decided to email the event director, Hugh Forrest, to see if he had any news since we never really got an official “no” on our panel.

As it turns out…we weren’t out of the running! I found out this morning that we’ve been slated to join the list of Core Conversations, a new format to SXSW that reads a bit more like an unconference (see BlogPhiladelphia). This format, rather than a panel, is more of an opportunity to converse and share experiences and knowledge about our journeys in the “indy” workforce.

I’m SUPER excited about this, as it will give us a platform to unite the coworking community as it converges on the city of Austin from all over the world. Last year we had a really fun coworking meetup at Barcamp Austin, this year, we get an official session and location, as well as a spot in the program, to hold it!

I’d like to work with a handful of key people to help make sure that the 1 hour session we have is loaded with interesting and valuable information, so for those of you attending who have something in particular you want to share, drop us a line.

I’ll be posting more as I hear more about the time and date. We’ll also have to organize a coworking lunch or brunch or something like that. I know there are currently ~8 people from IndyHall who will be attending the conference, and many more from Philadelphia I’m sure. If you’re going to be attending and interested in coworking (or Philadelphia and our social/creative scene on any level), drop a line in the comments and we’ll be sure to look you up once we’re in Austin!

Adding ACCESSIBILITY to our List of Core Principles

A while back, I listed the core principles of Coworking that Citizen Space ascribes to:

  • Collaboration: One of the great benefits of working in a coworking space is that you will meet all sorts of people with all sorts of knowledge.
  • Openness: We believe in transparency and openness. In a world where people are free, but ideas are not, only a few benefit. When ideas are free, everyone benefits. Therefore, we encourage open spaces and discussions. Sorry, no NDAs allowed.
  • Community: We thrive on connections and mutual support here. It is important that everyone give into as well as benefit from the strong (international) community coworking has become.
  • Sustainability: Shared spaces are also better for the planet, so we like to take that a little further and make certain our space is very environmentally responsible. Check out the Green Business Certification process we are going through and Ivan’s post on the process.

I posted these to the list and people generally agreed that these were important and the defining philosophies behind Coworking as opposed to alternatives like coffee shops and shared offices and rent-a-desks.

Just recently, though, I realized that we missed a BIG one: Accessibility.

There are all sorts of reasons why Accessibility needs to be included in those bullet points:

  1. Coworking spaces are about offering affordable alternatives to the community…giving a financially accessible option to independent workers. If the space isn’t accessible, indie workers continue to work out of their living rooms and coffee shops, which Coworking is supposed to address.
  2. Coworking spaces are about creating diverse and open spaces for everyone irrespective of physical or perceptual abilities….thus being physically accessible is an extremely high priority for Coworking spaces. We are fortunate to have found a wheelchair accessible building for Citizen Space because we’ve had several events here that required wheelchair access we would have otherwise had to turn away. That would have been a shame because they are great events.

Thanks to Anthony Tusler, who is working on Coworking Sonoma, for bringing this important issue to light. We have started a thread on this subject in the Google Group and have set up a wiki page to start collecting resources. We will also be adding Accessibility to our core values.

For those of you who own spaces that are not currently accessible, let’s start chatting about how we can help you make them that way. 🙂