One idea inspires another. I launched a kickstarter campaign to fund a coworks for Langley, WA. A perfect campaign would be launched with everything a perfect business needed. Perfection, however, is an illusion. Flip the switch and let the campaign and all its attendant parts run. Instead, I started with more than enough, but far from everything. There’s an advantage to getting started and then adapting, rather than trying to make the world work to an unachievably perfect model. Fresh ideas arise as soon as the first few steps are taken. The coworks is already evolving and improving. It even has a new name.
I’ve been thinking about a new concept for a coworks that might work in small towns since I participated in the most prominent coworks in Langley’s recent history: Fusion Spark’s coworks. It wasn’t perfect, but it had many of the basic and necessary elements: 24/7 access, a quiet environment, good power and internet, a kitchen-ette-ette, a bathroom, and a place for making conference calls. It was a good model that was closed for strategic reasons in the parent company. Very understandable.
Thinking and doing are very different. Pundits and politicians, ideologues and philosophers, are impressive with assertions and seemingly logical conclusions that can be best when never tested. Try to act on their suggestions, though, and reality begins teaching lessons.
Overthinking the new model of the coworks was a trap I wanted to avoid. I knew it could be a waste of time, and I knew I’d learn something as soon as I took that first step.
Langley and Whidbey are known for their populations of heavy thinkers. Advice is easy to find, frequently delivered even when it is unsolicited, and commonly contradictory, and inevitably valuable. Before I launched the campaign, I talked to some of the local business owners. They shifted what I intended to offer. After I launched the campaign, more ideas came in. Sitting back the next day, the various ideas swirling through my head helped align into new insights that I may act on – later.
In the meantime, I realized a few things.
- If it works in Langley, variants may also work in Clinton, Freeland, and other small towns – but each model would require customization.
- I can’t do it alone; which is one reason for the campaign, but also a recognition of the value of community.
- New ideas need new names.
- New concepts can benefit from new symbols.
And, I decided what to do about them.
- The other towns will have to wait (unless someone is inspired to get there first).
- I am lucky enough to know people who are willing and capable of helping.
- The name that I thought of as general ‘Langley Coworks’ is too close to the name used before. I filled a blank sheet of paper with dozens of names that attempted to capture the difference, and found I liked the first one I wrote: ReCharge Langley. A later post may dive into the layers behind ReCharge, but there are other ideas to develop first.
- Communications have gone visual. While names are important, icons and graphics rule online. With a name like ReCharge, I played with a white board at another coworks (one for writers that is hosted by the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts) and came up with an image of a battery. It is a work in progress, especially for someone who is not a graphics illustrator, but I like it as a good first step.
And then, there’s power. There are the ideas the world reinforced. Islands make people aware of things like power. In the city it is easy to assume the electricity will work, and if it does go out, it will probably come back on through some path in the mesh of powerlines. On the island we know it can go out, that the lines are long, not much of a mesh, and strung across open water; and that the work crews will get to us – eventually. Eventually isn’t good enough for people who must keep their businesses operating. For many independent contractors, without electricity and the Internet they can’t make money, and if they can’t make money, they might have to take drastic action. It sounds extreme, but even among the highest income Americans, at least 25% have less than $2,000 available for emergencies. A few days lost business can make someone lose their business. The idea of making reliable power and internet available sounded like a nice embellishment – until the power went out. That idea of having a generator, just in case, became a much higher priority.
The concept of the coworks is developing; but the narrative hasn’t changed, the implementation has only slightly shifted, though it does have a new name and image. It would have been difficult to appreciate the important elements without taking that first step.
Ideas inspire others, especially when they are introduced to the world, treated with a reasonable amount of care, tested with a reasonable amount of caution, and adjusted and adapted as they develop. It is true for my concept of a coworks. It is probably true of almost any idea but only if the idea is taken past the first step and encouraged to take that second step. That’s how ideas and people progress.