I’ve been feeling lately that “free community coworking space” isn’t adequate language for what we are here. Work isn’t at the heart of who we are. Not really.

Then today, several random things happened and I ended up coining and defining the term friendship incubator for myself. Here’s what happened:

1. My new, already-dear-to-me friend, Susan Evans at Office Nomads, sent me this message.

From: Susan
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 8:07 AM
To: Lori
Subject: Fwd: Trust & Friendships – Issue #23

Did you see that you made the Coworking Weekly this week? 🙂 Check out the last link! Hope you are well, S

Thank you Susan. I would not have seen this without your help. My plate is full this week and although I also receive Coworking Weekly there was a 100% chance this particular week that I would have deleted it without looking at it. I agree with the rest of Seattle: you are a fucking rock star.

2. Woo hoo! Coworking Weekly called our coworking space/last blog post/me quirky by introducing the post as follows…

“Quirky as it may be, one coworker’s blog post on best, friendly practices functions as advice and anecdote. Simple tips for greeting coworkers and maximizing comfort in a space go a long way to maintain good vibrations.”

Thanks for the share, but holy crap, quirky? If there is a better adjective that a creator/writer/space holder/community story wrangler can aspire to I cannot imagine it. It wasn’t that many years ago that I had a mid-30s crisis because someone described me to others “meticulous.” Bleh. But quirky I love. Woo hoo! Thank you Alex Hillman! I share this here because this step led me to the next one…

3. I decided it’s time to fully embrace quirky. God help us all.

4. I decided to start paying closer attention to Coworking Weekly and immediately read this other article in the newsletter. This article is from the Fashion & Style section of The New York Times–reading I would never have done without editor Alex’ help:

Friends of a Certain Age: Why Is it Hard to Make Friends Over 30?

This quote from the article struck me as vitally important to our space/me:

“As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.”

Thank you NY Times’ writer Alex Williams and professor Rebecca Adams.

5. It dawned on me that what we are is a friendship incubator. This is what matters most to me. Why the hell have we not been leading with that?!

6. I updated our space’s description on Facebook.

“Friendship incubator & free community coworking space. Wednesdays, 10 AM to 6 PM, other days by appointment. Photos: http://collectiveselfphotos.tumblr.com. A place to make friends & swap/share skills & stuff. Run by 3 social cats & a sappy dog.”

7. I began forming a definition of friendship incubator. Wrote a draft. Shared it with Daniel and got his input. Shared it with the space community via Facebook. Refined it. Eventually it occurred to me to look for a definition online. I didn’t find one.

8. We recognized ourselves as something new.

So here is the current defintion of friendship incubator coming out of our space:

A friendship incubator is a space, group, or person expanded and reimagined as an open host for community that fosters friendship by, for example, increasing proximity of community members; expanding the potential for play and repeated, unplanned interactions; and providing a setting within which people are encouraged to be themselves, let their guard down, and confide in one other. The friendship incubator embraces her/his/its own nature, leads with community and friendship, and allows other things–including business–to emerge from within. It is the quirky, playful, kind, irreverent, relaxed, free, untucked, and/or unpolished cousin and friend of the business incubator.

9. I kicked myself for not having this epiphany yesterday. That would be the day our first-ever coworking space postcards (thanks Tabitha!) went off to the printer. Sigh. There is a night of hand-writing “friendship incubator” across 250 postcards in my future. If you want to come over and help, holler.

10. We’re looking for our community.

If you are a friendship incubator, we’d love you to meet you, hear your definition of yourself and/or the term friendship incubator, hear the story of your experience, and share a meal.