For Me Community Is “All in”

I have been missing my blog. It went through this little phase where it became a shop front for our Trello course and that stopped me posting about my miserable little life.

Except the stuff that people I care about also care about the little miserable musings I post, and these posts are the ones that are fun to write because they are from the heart and also offline these are the posts that instigate the most conversation, the stale crap I write never gets a connection.

How does that content work offline? 

It is worth thinking about how the content we post online works offline. Nil’s (my partner in crime with Trello workshops) is significantly better at writing the “instruction posts” than I am. These are the posts that people read and then ask a bigger question about trello, they are also the ones that get shared the most online – because they are useful.

So as I wander through the hills lonely as a daffodil people ask me about Trello posts (thanks, Nil’s) and my rambling ones (like this post.) This is the community that is forming around the blog you are reading, trello fan-girls and boys and people with growing interest in coworking, community and collaboration.

So what is the point?

I have been thinking about this a lot after getting back to London after OuiShare Fest in Paris. Between OuiShare, Copass, @Work Hubs and Echo  I walked into a community, I felt at home right away. The same will happen with New Media Europe in a few weeks and then again at UK Coworking Community Organisers in July. It used to happen at TAGtribe and London Bloggers Meet Up.

Other times I’ll go to an event and it will be like getting on a tube train in London, we are all doing the same thing but are not connected, or even talking to each other.

Desk vs Community

The example I keep coming back to is the coworking cliche of desks vs community – this makes sense in my head – hear me out. Everywhere I have been there is been a divide between ‘I am renting’ and ‘I am a community member’. The part that inspires me and I am able to fuel is the community member manner.

Maybe if I was more ruthless at filling in the SEO boxes in my beautiful Rainmaker website, doing keyword research and all those other “grown up marketing” things I’d be in a different place.

What I have got is a deep connection with a group of people, I don’t “own them” we are together and have been evolving steadily for a few years now.

It is the community feeling I am doubling down on.

This was what I took from OuiShare fest and certainly the jet stream I have been chasing in coworking since I first discovered it in 2010 at Innovation Warehouse in London and Beta Cowork in Brussels. The feeling of pitching up round a table and moving each others projects forward

The feeling of pitching up round a table and moving each others projects forward is the intersection of community I crave and thrive off of.  As I have learnt more about coworking and how to help other people and how to ask for help the world has exploded.

It is important to point out that there is a huge difference between a “shortcut” / “get it cheap” / “bleed every drop out an asset” type actions and “smart cut” / “support network” / “create value” actions.

This is where the coffee machine is

A couple phrases have been locked in my head for a while, poking me and keeping me awake. First was Alex Hillman talking about showing people around a community vs doing a tour of the building and I connected this with Indy Johar riffing here on OuiShare Radio about coworking being great but the real mission being (in his case) “mission Birmingham”.

At first, I LOVED the idea of coworking because I could ‘look like I was doing something.’ – These days I am seeking out how to make the work we do in coworking places actually count in the neighbourhood. I don’t know how to do this and the place this is going to play out is @Work Hubs (AKA OuiShare UK HQ) in Euston.

This is the difference between selling desk spaces and building a community.

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