The vibrancy of the Downtown Phoenix community can be largely attributed to the spirit of creativity and collaboration amongst its residents, businesses and stakeholders.
One of the champions of that collaborative energy, downtown coworking space CO+HOOTS, will import its savvy for entrepreneurial community building to Tucson, another Arizona city working to revitalize its downtown.
Jenny Poon, founder of CO+HOOTS, is lending her expertise to a new coworking venture in downtown Tucson called Connect Coworking, which is part of a larger effort by Scott Stiteler, developer and manager of Tucson Urban, LLC., to help revitalize the area.
The coworking space will be part of Stiteler’s redevelopment of the historic properties he owns at Fifth Avenue and Congress Street in downtown Tucson and will occupy nearly 14,000 square feet of the historic Rialto building.
According to Poon, the developers wanted someone to help build a good coworking concept. They liked what they saw happening with CO+HOOTS and wanted to replicate their model for Tucson.
“Our model is really based on being involved in the community – intrinsically about wanting the community to be a better place, not just about being inside the space,” says Poon.
The collaboration with the Tucson space is a continuation of CO+HOOTS’ mission to support local entrepreneurship, not only in Phoenix, but in communities across Arizona.
“Our role in working with them is just going in, building collaboration between the two spaces and creating a larger ecosystem for entrepreneurship. We are just really looking at, how can we expand what we’re doing? The collaboration that we promote, how can we expand that collaboration between not just businesses within our space, but between collaborative work space across the state?” says Poon.
Poon will take the new space under her wing until they are able to expand on their own, but a connection between CO+HOOTS and Connect will remain. Along with their shared bird-themed branding (owls for CO+HOOTS and penguins for Connect), members of both groups will have the benefit of working at either space at no additional cost.
Despite any competitiveness between The Valley of the Sun and The Old Pueblo, Poon believes it is important to show that collaboration doesn’t have to happen within one space – it happens all over.
“A good rivalry is always fun, but I think our goal is to show that there are entrepreneurs everywhere in Arizona and that Arizona in general is a great place for small businesses to start off. Whether that be in Phoenix or Tucson or Flagstaff or Jerome or Chandler, Avondale or Gilbert, Mesa, West Valley, whatever – there is a place for entrepreneurs in Arizona.”
Learn more about Connect Coworking at connectcoworking.com.
CO+HOOTS, the downtown Phoenix co-working space, landed at its new home at 1027 E. Washington St. The move is part of a larger collaboration among local co-working spaces and incubators to create an entrepreneurial business corridor known as “Washington Row.”
After two successful years at their Garfield neighborhood location, CO+HOOTS is primed for growth. Having met their capacity with 20 businesses, the new space will allow them to offer support and expanded resources to a greater number of local entrepreneurs, while contributing to the development of downtown Phoenix. CO+HOOTS had been temporarily housed at monOrchid Gallery in Roosevelt Row since early August.
“The move will transcend CO+HOOTS beyond its functional role as a stand-alone collaborative space with desks and meeting rooms,” CO+HOOTS Founder Jenny Poon said. “It will help institute a big-picture plan focused on creating enduring partnerships and breathing life into the entrepreneurial core of the city.”
Others joining forces in the effort to put Phoenix on the map for its culture of innovation include SEEDspot, whose focus is on supporting social entrepreneurial ventures and the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation at Gateway Community College.
By establishing themselves along Washington, these spaces benefit from their proximity to each other and to the light rail, while helping to revitalize a key part of the city. As these small businesses grow, the concept is that they will eventually populate other buildings along Washington street, continually adding to the vibrancy of the corridor and the downtown Phoenix community.
CO+HOOTS and their partners in this effort have received strong support from Phoenix community leaders. Mayor Greg Stanton praised these business for having “the talent and vision critical to economic development in making our city competitive.”
Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, also voiced her support, saying “Phoenix is becoming an outstanding place for entrepreneurs and CO+HOOTS is a shining example of a shared space that helps new businesses of all kinds thrive.”
“The city benefits in many ways when entrepreneurs are supported and we need to do all we can to keep our brightest, most innovative entrepreneurs here at home,” says Lanning.
A shift is happening. Look around you. Collaborative movements are spreading across the globe. With the instantaneous communication environment we now live in, efforts to bring people together are being supported in rapid-fire succession.
It’s the idea of collaborative communities: organizing people in such a way that they can connect and engage together more effectively by sharing resources and strengthening social ties. A great website that highlights this is Collaborative Consumption. As I’ve been venturing via bike across Phoenix and Tempe, I’ve noticed the shift. Whether it’s helping with Valley of the Sunflowers, biking co-ops, or Audubon’s conservation efforts, communities are indeed connecting with one another and uniting on issues that matter. Whatever the cause, people are there making an impact.
Technology has a huge role in this movement. Want to be involved in the Willo Historic District? There’s an email newsletter for that. Training for P.F. Chang’s Marathon? There’s an online meet-up group for that. Volunteering opportunities at the Roosevelt Row Growhouse garden? There’s a blog, online news articles, and Facebook events for that. Even these cool kids at Co+Hoots, a collaborative workspace environment, seem to be in the know with co-working magic. (Read more here) All these people are coming together to make REAL change and it’s incredibly simple to get involved. Collaboration at your fingertips.
Yet, collaboration brings some interesting challenges. As more and more people are coming together, the dire need for easy accessibility rises. Some urban cities are paving the way, literally, to make accessibility a reality.
Take Copenhagen for example. It is the largest city in Denmark, home to approximately 1.2 million people in the metro area (200,000 shy of Phoenix’s population), with one-third of those people riding bikes. Highlighted as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, Copenhagen has an urban infrastructure that supports a connected lifestyle. A big attribute to this movement is the introduction to the Bike Sharing System, which allows riders to pay a deposit (which they get back) to rent the bike as needed. Eugene, Oregon is also known for its pedestrian-friendly efforts, quoted by Bicycling Magazine as one of the top ten cycling communities in the United States.
While Phoenix doesn’t have a bike-sharing system (yet), we still have a rich, diverse community who seek to connect. As a community, we can support change and enhancement of the physical structure in order to accommodate more bike and pedestrian-friendly access. However, we need to shift the way we think. Which brings the question: Why collaborate?
Supporting a more collaborative lifestyle increases your access to valuable resources, whether that’s access to local foods and gardens, carpooling options to get the kids to soccer or reducing the spouse’s long work commute, to simply connecting with your neighbors and getting involved in the area where you live. In 2011, I don’t think of knocking on the neighbor’s door as a 1950’s kind request for sugar; I think of it a genuine desire to connect, letting my neighbor’s know they are welcomed and my resources are available to them.
The days of not trusting your neighbor are slowly dissolving with neighborhoods that reflect this collaborative model. It builds trust, which then allows communication to flow. The Willo Historic District newsletter, for example, is keeps its readers on alert for suspicious activities, building that sense of trust and security. This is part of the collaborative mindset. Uniting communities together says, “This place matters and I want to be a part of it.” With that type of mindset, anything is possible.
When you turn the calendar to October, First Fridays start heating up, just as the weather starts cooling down (well, theoretically anyway). In an effort to help you get the most out of those precious four hours (and beyond) tonight, here is DPJ’s October First Friday walking guide.
First Fridays are always a hotbed for live music, and tonight is no exception. Hear tunes at Civic Space Park, the Rhythm Room (21+), the Lost Leaf (21+) or the Trunk Space. For more info on these shows, read this week’s Make the Scene blog.
If you’re east of 7th Street, make sure to visit the lot at 905 E. McKinley St. Phoenix Public Market favorite Torched Goodness and Gilbert’s Udder Delights will be dishing out treats starting at 5 p.m.!
Oh, and art!
Yes, Roosevelt Row, Lower Grand and surrounding ‘hoods will be alive with open galleries, bars, restaurants and street artists. Our can’t miss suggestions: Monsters Menagerie at the Alwun House (7 to 10 p.m.), Morgan McNally’s solo exhibit at the Tire Pit Gallery (7 to 10 p.m.) and Chaos Theory 11 at Legend City Studios (7 to 9 p.m.).
View October First Friday in a larger map
If you have the rare opportunity to track down ever-busy Phoenix Design Week co-founders Mark Dudlik and Dave Bjorn, the duo that is Dojo Collective, and ask them why they’re working nearly around the clock to make the second annual event a success, it becomes apparent that these guys ooze the creative scene of Phoenix.
Frustrated with the lack of design respect our desert locale gets on a national scale — Dudlik names off a half-dozen highly praised metros like New York, Minneapolis and Austin before quickly stating Phoenix could be part of this top tier — you’d think these two (both of whom have day jobs, by the way) had no choice but to create the event, which runs from September 29 to October 3.
Trying to whittle Phoenix Design Week into a succinct description is taxing, if not simply because of its scope, then because of its expanding reputation. The theme this year is “FORWARD,” hinting at progress, dignity and innovation. Simply put, Phoenix Design Week aims to celebrate the local design community and the city of Phoenix — it is a full-blown national conference, after all. More than 30 local and national speakers are scheduled throughout the weekend, plus a very notable two-day Adobe training program (traditionally a value of $800) is offered. This year’s conference, held at the Phoenix Convention Center, proudly features seven national speakers, as well as a whole host of locals spreading their creative knowledge.
But what if you’re not a designer? Some of us can’t draw a straight line to save our lives, but we can still appreciate some killer exhibits — 10 in all, spread across three Valley locations. It’s inspiring to all.
The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at the Phoenix Convention Center. A party open to everyone who registers for the conference will be held at Gallo Blanco Café and Bar on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Hillman Curtis, Saturday, 10:45 a.m.
Mike Joosse, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Brian Singer, Saturday, 3 p.m.
James Victor and Paul Sahre, Saturday, 4:30 p.m.
Andres Krogh, Sunday, 3 p.m.
Von Glitschka, Sunday, 4:30 p.m.
Held Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at CO+HOOTS, Air Marketing and Sitewire. Exhibit receptions are at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Sitewire, 7 p.m. on Thursday at Air and 6 p.m. on First Friday at CO+HOOTS.
If You Go: Phoenix Design Week
Conference dates are Saturday, October 2 and Sunday, October 3
Registration is $125 online for the full conference
Follow on Twitter with hashtag #phxdw
Phoenix Convention Center is located at 100 N. 3rd St. in Downtown Phoenix (light rail at 3rd Street & Washington/Jefferson stations).