Creative Co-working: Take it On the Road

We <3 Co-Working! from Dyana Valentine (and Heather Parlato) on Vimeo.

Since I’ve been participating in co-working, I’ve become more aware of opportunities to work with others in different configurations. Shortly after my last post, when I was on the fence about the trade-offs of socializing vs. productivity, I noticed a tweet from Luke Mysse that read “Jelly Orange is back!”

Following a link, I learned that he participates in a national co-working model that grew out of a New York-based meet-up, where two roommates invited others to co-work in their apartment. DIY co-working, I love it!

I couldn’t participate on the actual Jelly Orange meetup date, but Luke and our very own Dyana Valentine had some projects to work on together, and invited a couple other creative freelancers to join them for a day of co-working in Luke’s space at Crossgrain. I’ve been looking to mix things up somehow, so we worked out our carpooling and made it a road trip!

The Crossgrain space is comfortable, friendly, and full of design resources visitors can pore through. Co-workers can choose a desk of their own, or gather in a group around a table. I went there to get work done, but also to get to know everyone better, so I chose the table.

One thing I’ve learned about co-working is that there’s a delicate balance between supportive chatter and distraction. The way we assembled at Crossgrain, everyone was able to chat passively and bounce ideas to each other while working, without engaging in full conversations that took us away from our projects. I got my blogging and layout work done while benefiting from the exchange with others [it also helps that we all know each other pretty well].

Here’s a shameless shout-out, Luke is currently renting space at Crossgrain, maybe drop in during a Jelly meetup and see what you think!

This whole Jelly thing intrigued me, so I went looking for some in Los Angeles, and sure enough, we have Jelly L.A that meets twice per month, in Santa Monica and Mid-Wilshire. Jelly meetups are often free, so it’s a great way to try out co-working with no obligation [search for Jelly meetups near you on their site].

Along the way, I also found Loose Cubes, a resource for finding co-working spaces near you, along with their buy-in prices [some are free, some have day rates].

The best thing in all this, though, is that you can set them up yourself. Start your own meetup at home or in an appropriate public space with guidance from the Jelly site. For LA-based freelancers, has a list of the top 5 cafés that can double as your office, just select one and pick a small group to work with on a revolving basis. Or, draw inspiration from Hub in London, profiled by Good Magazine, and concept a co-working environment where time is allocated to supportive professional development in addition to work.

If you’re in L.A. or Orange, come join us at Jelly!

BTW: If you’re on the East Coast, there are plenty of co-working opportunities, including Converge in New Jersey, on the campus of Kean University. They have a monthly free open house — next one is on Nov 17. Details here.

4 thoughts on “Creative Co-working: Take it On the Road

  1. Dyana Valentine

    I have never been much for working in cafes or out in public–but if the environment is conducive (big enough work surface for me to spread out and have access to an outlet), the humans are cool (and there to work), and there is relative quiet for agreed upon periods of time, I’m IN for co-working. I noticed that when I went down to Luke’s, I got twice as much done as I intended AND got some brilliant new ideas on a project that just popped out of my head at the group lunch. I’d love to hear other folks’ experiences with co-working; getting out of the house and ideal environments.

  2. Michelle Taute

    I just joined a co-working space a few months ago and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. I’m so much more productive, and as a writer, I’m always learning things from my office mates–web developers and designers. It’s also nice to have that extra separation between work and my personal life. I really like coming home from work.

    Also, we have a Jelly here in Cincinnati, but I haven’t been yet! And we’re thinking about moving into a larger co-working office. Go @cincycoworks!

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