Coworking is a trend we picked up on here in NYC and followed all the way to Philadelphia, where it appears to be developing a strong base of followers and participants. According to the Coworking Community Blog, coworking is “a movement to create a community of cafe-like collaboration spaces for developers, writers and independents.” Though not strictly defined, a coworking event is generally comprised of a fluid group of freelancers, bedouin workers, and other transient collaborators from a variety of industries (though many or often involved in technology or media) coming together to work on their independent projects while sharing ideas, inspiration, and resources. Communal workspaces and organizations have grown steadily in big cities like New York and San Francisco, Jelly in NYC and CitizenSpace in SF being two notable examples of popular coworking groups.
And on our visit to Philadelphia, we learned that the coworking movement is thriving and quickly spreading. We spoke with two leaders of the coworking movement in Philly, Alex Hillman and Geoff DiMasi, who helped launch several community-building initiatives in the city. Cream Cheese Sessions (modeled after Jelly) and Junto are two organized meetings Hillman and DiMasi hold every few weeks in which they gather innovators to work as well as discuss new ideas and topics of interest. Hillman started IndependentsHall.org, a virtual meeting place and bulletin board for coworkers around the world to share new coworking spots, organizations, and other ideas on community building.
Though still settling on a central coworking space, DiMasi and Hillman hope to see cross-city coworking exchanges and the development of a global network of coworkers in the near future. They also hope to include coworkers of different levels of membership, some full-time workers in the communal space, others who can come in on a day-by-day basis. With 50 subscribers to the Independents Hall listserv, Hillman and DiMasi are optimistic – and altruistic – about the growth of coworking. “It’s not about making money,” explains DiMasi. “It’s like when you were a kid, and you had a clubhouse… it’s a way to feel like part of a community.”