It’s been more than a year since Collective Agency Division opened at SE 30th and Division, a few months since Collective Agency Downtown opened, and more than six years since Collective Agency started in Portland.
A challenge I find in marketing Collective Agency is always to keep making things happen that is good news people want to talk about. Things that people are doing together, usually that one person initiates or asks for and very much wants, and a few other people who join in, and then more people who gather. Sometimes news isn’t even new. Sometimes gathering together is the same people, over and over and over and over, and it gets better with subtleties and learnings and laughters every time.
If I was pitching story ideas for parts of a day, I could tell you about how we’re trying out having dogs at work at our Division location for a day this Friday, and how the proposal for that happened and how the vote went. Or about the conversation Downtown where some members (all women) were having about writing emails and wording/tone that is expected of women, and how do you write your emails? and how the guys in the room gradually joined in the conversation, and people were relating. Or about the terrarium workshop that seems so long ago now that Sara led, that I wrote might happen in the last email, which happened – you can see the photo in the right. And the Halloween party which a lot of members organized. And the book club – currently we’re reading All the Light We Cannot See, our longest book yet, which Tom leads, yet another way that empathy happens here, through reading fiction. And the karaoke and other happy hours. And the feng shui happy hour at both locations recently, where we made the rooms even more what we want. Or the Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow, which is sides only. Puns are involved, of course. Or about the walks and talks with friends who are members… members who became good friends.
Everyone has a unique individual experience here; for me the terrarium workshop, and helping Sara put potting soil in plants at our other location the next day, was a new skill-building, a first step in a greener thumb, an oh-it’s-that-simple-that’s-how-you-do-it moment, I-never-was-shown-how-to-garden-but-now I-can-learn-if-I-want-to-from-people-here-and-here’s-how moment. And the many moments of walking in and so many people are in the middle of some joyful and/or funny conversation and I feel so warm and welcome to be here. And for me personally, whenever someone very much wants something — like all the events above — and they ask for it and at least a few other members commit to it, and we make it happen.
And as always, there’s the ask, in the marketing, please: think of people who know, who live in or near Portland, whose ideal is working alongside other people, who work on laptops from anywhere they like, who like healthy communities where they can have a say and make things happen when they want to, with friendships for a long time, a community at work and in Portland. And to refer those people. And to write about us and tell people about us.
“The vibe is that serious work is getting done, but it’s not stuffy or boring — to the contrary, the people are relaxed, fun to be around, members regularly get together, and bring in food or snacks to share, contributing to the “Collective” vibe that is central to the philosophy of the place; a “family” feel to the whole thing. It’s a professional, easy, friendly, relaxed place to work in. Collective Agency has contributed tremendously to my daily enjoyment as I go about my work. Highly recommended!” -Tara W.
Our locations are downtown on the big block of food carts at SW 10th and Washington, and on SE Division and 30th. There’s art and plants all around. There’s some private areas for phone calls and meetings but mostly it’s open. Everything’s included, everybody who’s a member has access to everything.
People who try out membership for a day almost always become members. It’s different here when you walk in than it will be in 15 minutes or in an hour. It isn’t static. Sometimes people are having conversations and laughing, about life or work, banter or deep talk, almost always about things they care about, almost always real, but never perfect, almost always something different one day to the next, usually a focus on good news. And often people are typing away on their keyboards, the sound of clacking and the sound of the air conditioning or heat blowing from the vents, the light through the windows, the knowledge that you can talk to people about anything, really, any time you want to, the community being humans who value responsibleness and accountability and people being treated well, and considerateness…
I think often the proof for someone trying us out for the day is seeing other people interacting here. There’s that moment of openness and genuineness and passionateness. It isn’t always like that, every single moment, or even most moments. It isn’t non-stop all the time, really, I promise you, but members don’t want it every, every minute, the people doing programming and the people writing poetry here and the people designing marketing here, there are good things to make happen at work too! If there was one photo to show, it’s people typing on laptops doing productive work in a cozy workplace. I think it’s the tiny news stories, those tiny and vast things, that sell this place, that make it some kind of family, to draw on the oldest work cliche ever. Some kind of feeling of DIY family at work, some kind of long-term community:
“Community Mission Statement: Cozy… to work alongside people doing what they’re passionate about and committed to, where 80% of people say hi. Come and work here!”