Years ago, there was something called Work at Jelly. It was like a jam session, but it was a jelly. It would meet on Fridays. People would socialize and collaborate, and work on their own too. One of the things I loved about it was that each person would RSVP before they arrived with their name, the time they expected to arrive and leave, what they would be working on that day, a link to their website with more info, and what they were looking for from other people, if anything. Recently there was some interest expressed at Collective Agency to try that. So, here goes. For February: what’s your name, what time do you expect to be here, what are you working on, and what are you looking for? Add a comment below. (If you don’t see the option to leave a comment, click here, then scroll down and leave a comment.)
Ruby wrote a beautiful post on her blog about working here, called “Collective.” Here’s an excerpt from her post, below. I recommend reading the whole blog post. It sums up what so many people here say about their own experience, and the last paragraph sums up part of the vision that I have for here, better than I’ve said it.
“….I love our new apartment and the fact we both have separate offices to work out of. But having a commute that consisted of walking from one room to the next made me feel like I was always and never at work. And not being around other humans during the day really started to take its toll on my emotional well-being.
So last week I joined a coworking space in Portland. I gave myself a thirty minute train ride every morning. A desk surrounded by other desks. People to go to lunch with. A big, warm room filled with folks like me.
And as soon as I got there, I started writing again. Words spilled from my fingertips onto the screen. I careened through blank space, filling it with letters that mattered to me. I took deep breaths and could feel the vibrancy returning to my being.
It’s often the simple things, isn’t it? We have so many monumental battles we’re fighting on any given day that it’s easy for us to forget the small ones. Forget the leaving the house ones. The talking to a friend ones. The making a phone call or reading a book or taking a walk ones. The little battles that make the big ones seem like maybe they’ll be okay.”
Collective Agency will be accepting new memberships through December 18, and after January 4. We’ll be closed to non-members for an end-of-year staff vacation. As always, members have 24/7 access during the holiday.
My long-term passion is representative democracy. I know, those are big words for a business (or a city). I’m happy that Collective Agency recently joined the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. We’re on track to be certified by the national board as a workplace democracy. Our sister companies now include People’s Food Co-op, Citybikes, and Equal Exchange.
The way that we have democracy in a business is, day to day, joyously, productively, cozily. People treat each other as equals here. Most of the time, people are productively working. The most obvious example of democracy here is the monthly optional member meetings, on the first Wednesday of each month from 2-2:30pm. We start by going around and asking, “What’s your name and something you’re passionate about, in 30 seconds or less?”
That sets the personal values for the next half hour, so people honor what we care about and don’t step on anyone’s values. It inspires conversations and connections later on. During the half hour, we talk about upcoming events and how to make them even better, and what we like and what could be even better here. And then, of course, staff and/or members make it happen.
We have community guidelines that are the core guiding principles of everything we do here, which for some people who don’t join is ‘a lot of rules,’ and for people who are here is an ‘of course, as basic consideration of other humans.’
A member who coaches non-profit executive boards told me that rather than just being cooperative, or just being competitive, or just being bureaucratic, it’s even better to be a mix as appropriate. Because of our administrative bureaucratic processes, the office supplies are always stocked here, and the phone is always answered the same way. We’re competitive, in a positive way, by always making things even better here. The community and governance here, the member activities and the interactions, are cooperative. It’s about being part of the same community, sharing, learning, laughing, relating, working.
And that’s how I expect democracy in general to be thought of (and to be, in reality). As productive work. As cozy. As community. As a place for socializing, inspiration, and friendships. As people coming together to make happen what we positively want. Open to different perspectives, which is one of my favorite words: pluralistic. With leaders who communicate high expectations of the great things they expect will happen, and who are responsive to the people they represent.
Things are growing great at Collective Agency and so many good things have happened. Joy-filled updates below.
Our yearly Christmas party is December 8, from 5-8pm. You’re invited!
Thank you for referring new members!
Out of 5 people who came by last week, 4 people signed up as new members and almost everyone who signed up was referred. Reviews and referrals are always helpful. We’re on Yelp, Google, Twitter, Facebook.
Open workplace – the Collective Agency vision of coworking
We are an open workplace. What that means is we have an open floorplan and everything here, all of the furniture and equipment, is for everybody to use. We’ve found people are much more joyous with an open workplace than with any other way of working.
“I’ve been working at Collective Agency since I moved to Portland in June 2013. I love my commute over the bridge, I love coming in and seeing busy happy people. I’m on phone calls often and have the space available for privacy. I’m broadened by the community here.” -Stefanie, Member Interview and Review
Members here value productive work, socializing and community activities at their workplace. Friendships, learning, inspiration, in-depth open conversations with laughter are largely what defines a successful event and a great day here.
“Friendship. I was surprised that this was such a high value for a workplace, but since seeing this, I’ve started to expect it here.” -Alex, Values that Members have here for Coworking
Membership is $250 per month or $2,500 when prepaid for 12 months.
People come here to work alongside other inspired self-motivated people. Collective Agency is the coziest, best-rated, most open and friendly coworking place in Portland. We’ve been open since 2011.
“The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been invaluable, and I’ve gotten some unexpected advice from those who have gone down the publishing and self-publishing paths already.” -Meryl, Added Value: Getting Feedback at Project Sharing Workshops
Many of us eat lunch and talk on the sofas here each day. There are weekly activities. Most of the time people are productively working.
Happy Thanksgiving, Alex
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Stefanie Zasyatkina, Director, InReach Solutions.
What’s something you’re passionate about?
I’m passionate about cooking, being outside, playing with my boy, and trying to make a difference: feeling I’m of service to other humans.
What are you working on when you’re here?
I’m rarely here. But I work a lot on accounting and support work. What am I doing here today? I try to use this as a thinking forum to better my service to the clients.
What’s a memorable or valuable experience you’ve had at Collective Agency, and why?
The memorable experiences are the parties, the dancing. It brings together all the people, it loosens everybody up, it makes everybody feel more free. Even if you feel free with your work, the parties give you another side to people that you don’t normally see.
What’s something non-work-related that you’ve been learning lately?
This week I learned how to screw hooks. I made myself a little hook hanger. I thought that was fun. I’ve got some jewelry here; I’m going to try to learn jewelry making in a little bit. And I pruned an apple tree this weekend. It was great. I have bruises, I was crawling, hanging on. And I think I did it well.
Why do you work at Collective Agency?
I like it. It’s a good vibe. It’s bright. There’s lots of people always doing things. I like Collective Agency being downtown because it allows me to cross the river and change my scene. I like a place to be downtown so that I can park my bike and just walk around and be downtown and have a safe space.
What question would you like me to ask you, and what’s your answer?
Ask me how I am. I think you always do that too, ‘How are you doing?’, and that makes me feel welcome. And my answer right now? I’m feeling good. I bike downtown here — it’s a change of scene — in the rain, I feel like a badass.
[Heather joins in:] It’s pretty badass.
Stefanie: So it makes me happy.