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.
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 8:07 AM
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.
A friendship incubator is an authentic engagement of living speech acts that care, feed and nurture social learning experiences in listening as a community of shared emergent values capable of innovating and designing a new world together that has nor demands for obedience and negating the legitimacy in our coexistence with one another as an ethical foundation of friendship.
Hi Mushin, so nice to meet you! And thanks for following up offline (well, offline from here) 😉 with me with this outstanding followup when I was confused by your final sentence. I experience the world similarly and rarely meet other people who include “publication” in this power list like I do. 🙂 Love your focus on play as well. Best of luck in your work. Would be happy to talk again at any time you’d like! – Lori
“pardon “no demands for obedience negating the legitimacy….” I assess using power of position, title, publication, gender, age, ideologies or a scientific theory as power is a demand for obedience negating legitimacy and has consequences in the social domain of friendships. It’s terminated and ends immediately. Friendship is a social relationship based in caring, feeding and nurturing another in authenticity in real time and pure play.
Pray this helps. Please feel free to edit comment to reflect my assessment if you feel it has value in your emerging community. I commented because I like your notion and I really don’t have a clue as to where you are going, what you are up to or how to play in this conversation. I am focused on a specific project at the moment 10 years in the making and may provide a history making opportunity built on the notion of friendship. Thanks!
Latter – Mushin”
Where is the shark in the incubator?
I enjoyed reading this post. Even, I may dare to add to the definition. You are the friend strange incubator. Why> Because you do not collide or repeat your paths as you learn. You discover, adapt and the incubator must adapt by stretching and folding so that you may not cut paths
Your post, Lori, is the proof on how we grow as we learn.
One note” virtual proximity or physical proximity?
Ali, you’re so wicked smart. You always see things that I don’t. Now that you mention it, I have noticed that I don’t repeat my learning paths much anymore. You don’t seem to either. Do you feel the same is true for you? And if so, how do you think this activity/pattern came to be in your life and to what do you attribute your awareness of it? I haven’t given it much conscious thought yet. I’d guess my always-new pattern is thanks to all the lessons I’ve absorbed in/as/watching/being self-organizing groups and communities. An unconscious and sometimes conscious mimicking of patterns I’ve observed in these human collectives. And the confidence and deeply felt support planted within me by these groups/communities and their always-present voice of encouragement to keep becoming more of the real me.
My answer to your proximity question is both–both virtual and physical proximity–because “increasing proximity” means increasing closeness (becoming emotionally local) as people to me. Although I admit that for this piece I was thinking about physical closeness, because I opened our home as a coworking space because I want to know my neighbors better and know more of them, make more on-the-ground-in-Seattle friends, and awaken to greater life in my neighborhood (that is, I believe that an even better life is already here, and that I need others in the neighborhood to help me find it).
As an introvert researcher/writer, it is easier for me to make friends online and many of my favorite humans–as you know–are physically far away. Bas and I, for example, are about to launch a new web site together called Different Office, a gathering space for stories from self-created, soul-satisfying work spaces. I trust him like a brother and am convinced that he’s my imaginary friend from childhood come to life. We’ve decided to just keep on working together indefinitely and are now involving our photographer spouses in our work as well. One of my dearest friends (made at age 41) is in the Netherlands. Another is in Jordan. I would not call you virtual friends. I would call you amazing friends.
Refering back to the post. If sociologists have generally agreed on the importance of “proximity” since the 1950s that tends to suggest that they don’t mean virtual. There is something magical about sharing the same physical space. But I suspect those working today mean virtual too. Don’t know for sure. But it’s the same process. You can tell how much someone wants to be with you by how much of their time they give you/spend with you. (is temporal proximity a thing?) I can tell if someone feels close to me online by how much time they spend with me here (like you) or elsewhere and also often by how many different places we turn up for each other (actual friends will show up many places–email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, texting, telephone, SlideShare, Quora, etc.).
Lori, I do not know who is the wicked smart. No, now I know. Here is the proof it is you
Let me quote you first from above response “And the confidence and deeply felt support planted within me by these groups/communities and their always-present voice of encouragement to keep becoming more of the real me”.
I am writing a presentation on this right now. I call it temporarily the investment playground. I am discussing how supporters encourage prayers in emulation how audience support investors and make them go beyond the limit.Who is the wicked smart?
As for the patterns they emerge. It is NOT planned. Birds flocking in V-shapes is an emerging property. When we try to understand an emergence we affect the initial conditions, which in turn might drastically affect the emerging pattern. It is by trial and error and continuous learning we find the healthy or longed for patterns
You see how our discussions diverge into different paths. No one may predict what we shall come up with
You emerge the smarter. I am sure Daniel agrees.
Ha ha! Daniel’s a bit biased. 😉
I love the language “healthy or longed for patterns”!
I commented on Bas most recent post as below. I think my response serves as a response to this post as well. So, I share it here, hoping it stirs some ideas in your mind and heart, Lori and your readers as well
Work is fun and play. I like this post. Accidentally, in my last presentation “Triggering Ads” I provide full support to this part of your description of Shrinkonia.
In Slide 17 I wrote,
Happy times do not mean eating a good meal only. They mean being together (social need)
Being together means sharing memories, exchanging information, magnifying our pride and feeling time is running with happiness. That is moving up on the Maslow Pyramid
It is not a meal only; it is the atmosphere that brings comfortable association and self-fulfilment
Is this suitable for defining communities where “time runs with happiness”?
Lori, I love everything about this post. SO glad to have been a part of this revelation 🙂
Thanks for what you do Alex!
Hi Ali, thanks for sharing your slide deck. I was away at a family reunion this week, which is why it took me so long to reply. Yes, time runs with happiness! 🙂
Whoops, I hit enter too fast. I like your community description very much. It’s more than suitable. It’s terrific!
Great and welcome back Lori
I am happy that you liked my definition. I am running with happiness
I uploaded a presentation hours ago on Trimming of Ideas. People started contributing ideas. I would greatly welcome one slide (or more) from you. You will love the comments
Happy family gathering
So nice to see your creative community build slide decks together. I’ll send you a slide for it in a moment.
I greatly appreciate your quick response with a very interesting slide. Lori, the slide inspired few ideas to add to the slide deck