Since I devoted myself to starting Creative Equals as an organization, not a day goes by where I’m not mulling over the best way to execute our mission for the greatest impact. As with starting any charitable organization, it is really important that those involved seriously take a look at their motives. As I stated in my first post, my idea for this organization started as a means to scratch my own itch: I’ve always wanted a place to advance my own projects while collaborating with interesting people, and I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I felt comforted in my motives originally because it seemed that many coworking projects started out of the same self-satisfaction. It wasn’t until recently that I began to question whether or not such self-servicing was really okay. I’ve always believed that the “me too” attitude driving the exponential development of social networking sites and web 2.0 toys is completely flooding the market (“dot com” crash 2.0?) so the last thing I wanted to be was another person starting a coworking project only because I think its a cool thing to do. Thus, I was on the hunt for ways to make Creative Equals bigger than just me, and everyone knows that “bigger” in this day and age really means “global”. While riding this train of thought, I arrived one interesting question: Is there a need for coworking in the global emerging middle-class?
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Tags: coworking, emerging middle-class, entrepreneurship, foreign aid, non-profit, nonprofit, save africa
As stated in the about page, I started this blog to serve as a vehicle to promote my proposed non-profit. I wanted a clearly defined place to track my progress as I try my hand at this, while learning more about other peripheral nonprofits and movements. As for the proposed non-profit in question, all I knew was that I wanted to (1) rent out a lofty space, (2) fill it with a bunch of really creative, artsy people, and (3) have everyone learn the principles of entrepreneurship so that they can become successful off of the projects that they work on in the space. Because I’m serious about my project, I researched incessantly only to see this term crop up over and over again:
Defined as “cafe-like community/collaboration space for developers, writers and independents,” coworking is apparently a movement that has made strides in the US and abroad over the last couple of years. Coworking executions in LA, Philly, San Fransisco, and even Columbus, OH prove that, above all, the concept of coworking is undeniably cool.
I couldn’t help but notice, however, that much of the information I found on coworking came from “wikis”, twitter, or some other Web 2.0 tool. Furthermore, the actual offline executions of said movement were typically made by quintessentially t-shirted and flip-flopped, young, white males. In other words, coworking as a movement seems to passively be dominated by geek culture.
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Tags: coworking, Diversity, entrepreneurship, nonprofit, web 2.0
Though the About and Mission pages do a pretty succinct job of describing what Creative Equals (CE) is, I wanted to take the time to go into further detail about why I’m doing this and why it makes sense.
Last December, my friends and I were approached by Black Entertainment Television last year to do a full-out marketing and promotional plan for a new show they were rolling out called Harlem Heights. Originally, the BET Exec who gave us the shot thought that we were just some college kids and probably weren’t going to develop anything ground-breaking, or at least nothing that they’d be interested in using. Being the bright and creative young people that we are, we proceeded to come up with a marketing plan and proposal that was “better than the stuff we get from some professionals,” according to the BET Exec and his team (your can view our proposal here). From that point on, we thought we had really hit it big. BET called us all throughout the Christmas holiday requesting reference letters, a scope of work, and a proposed budget for implementing our plan over a 12-week period. Needless to say, the job they were asking us to do was worth hundreds of thousands of dollar and we were salivating; as college kids, we had never stood to make that much money at one time. It was like a dream come true…until it became a nightmare. Once we furnished BET with everything they asked for, their team suddenly became hesitant when the time came to sign the dotted line. For a myriad of reasons including “lack of corporate experience” (our experience was with other college and grassroots promotions at that time), the deal was suddenly yanked off the table as BET expressed that they were going to explore other options. As one can imagine, the experience was crushing – not just because we lost our chance at a significant amount of money, but because we lacked so many resources prior to landing the deal, yet struggled to put something together anyway. We had no office to prepare all of our materials; everything we did was a product of my living room and Kinko’s. We had no network of business mentors to help us negotiate a deal; we had naively thought that the strength of our creativity would speak for itself.
One of the first reasons I’m starting CE is because I am my own cause. What my BET anecdote explains is that in the world of entrepreneurship, creativity is crucial but it is not enough. Artists need physical space and resources devoted to exploring the business behind their art if they truly seek to build a successful livelihood from what they do. By “artist”, I mean a creative person, and by “creative person”, I mean a person having a good imagination or original ideas. CE is just as much for a graphic designer as it is for an accountant with a new idea.
The idea of providing low-cost communal space to a group of people is not new; in fact, I draw great inspiration from organizations like:
Citizen Space in San Fransisco
The Hive Coop in Denver
Conjunctured in Austin
While I look to these ventures as a great lead to follow, I felt it important to start a new organization separate from the aforementioned because our missions are fundamentally a little different. The above projects (and many others like them) do what they do because they want to provide a social solution to the isolation and productivity issues incurred by individuals who commonly work from home. It is then worth noting, that many of these individuals are already make a living from their work. Creative Equals is different because we hope to provide a social solution to the individual who is currently not sustained by their work. Many of the individuals we target either moonlight or work second jobs in order to make ends meet while they work on their artistic passions. Creative Equals not only wants to give our community a social space to work on their projects, we want to teach them enough entrepreneurial savvy so that they can make their projects work for them.
For this reason, I felt it imperative to structure CE as a non-profit. Our mission is about helping men and women learn to fish, not reaping all of the fish for ourselves. If you want to fish with us, please, please, please drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply leave a comment below. If you really want to help, visit our Fundable page to make a donation.
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Tags: coworking, non-profit, updates