I started going to Collective Agency in July, days after I moved to Portland. I wanted to work near people during the day, since I am a remote employee, and I wanted a way to meet new people in a new city. Collective Agency met both of these needs in spades, but it’s also had an added value I didn’t anticipate. Twice a month, members at Collective Agency can participate in or attend a creative project sharing meeting. As Alex mentioned in an earlier post, the works-in-progress members event is every two weeks, for 40 minutes. People share whatever they’re currently working on for 5-7 minutes, and then attendees have three minutes to offer feedback and ask follow-up questions.

The meetings were started by former Collective Agency staff member Kenneth Gordon.

“I started the work-in-progress workshops to give members both the opportunity to present and to get a glimpse into what others are working on,” said Kenneth. “Then they get to gain new insights and perspectives on projects that are meaningful to them. And all in attendance get to know each other better and be inspired, too.”

I’ve been sharing chapters of a memoir I’m working on. It’s about learning to play roller derby, and the workshops have given me a place to get feedback. It’s a test kitchen for when I need to know things like, How familiar are people with roller derby already? What part of this story is most interesting? What questions am I leaving unanswered in my writing?

The feedback I’ve gotten so far has been invaluable, and I’ve also gotten some unexpected advice from those who have gone down the publishing and self-publishing paths already. It’s important to get ongoing feedback as I continue my project so I can keep it on track time-wise and content-wise.

“I know for me, for any project I am working on, there are multiple points of the process when it’s useful to share what’s been done so far with a group of people who already know me,” said Kenneth. “Collective Agency has a diverse membership of people who all know each other to varying degrees, so I saw it as a great opportunity to for members to gain perspective and connect with other members at the same time.”

I agree completely. I’m looking forward to our next workshop.

Meryl Williams is writing a book about learning to play roller derby. Find her work on HelloGiggles and The Billfold, or sign up for her awesome TinyLetter.

Written by Meryl Williams