the growth of creative coworking spaces around cambridge and somerville

Something incredible is brewing in somerville and cambridge, and it has been emerging over the last couple years.  The growth of spaces that encourage building, making, hanging out, performance, art, co-working and tons more. I spend a lot of time between these spaces- initially because I wanted places where I could learn socially and collaborate on projects.  This past weekend I found a few more, and hopping from space to space, I really began to feel the magnitude- the spread- of this movement.

When I first arrived in boston, I was so excited to find Sprout by Davis Square.  A place where people could go and make things, learn from each other, a place to cultivate a community.  That was two years ago, and a lot has happened- that spirit has grown and spread to several other places- to the extent that it almost feels like the most effective use of space in a city is just that- something between a coworking space, performance venue, and community  center.

I was at the Artisan’s Asylum earlier today and folks from Popular Mechanics were there snapping photos and interviewing.    What’s happening there is pretty game changing.  Check out a couple interviews from the space.  There are not only artists and makers there, there are businesses that are growing.  The city of Somerville is pretty excited about the impact the Asylum has- it has brought a lot of jobs to the city.  It’s probably the biggest maker/hackerspace in the world- with tons of affordable spaces and tools, setting an example many can get inspired by.  I find myself there a ton making art as New American Public Art, most recently preparing an interactive magnetic sculpture for Somerville Open Studios.

Last Saturday I swung by East Meets West Bookstore in Central for Make-It market.  I had never been in the space and was amazed to find it was so much more than a bookstore.  It is a performance space- and now is expanding to house several businesses upstairs, like Modk.it, and also a fab lab- a place with tools like lazer cutters or CNC machines that people can come in and use.  It occurred to me that a place like this is so well utilized- both in the day and night it is active.

Later in the day I found myself in [] x [] , a co-working space housing Zeega and goodgood, currently featuring work by a longtime collaborator Joey Asal.  This is one of the newest coworking creative spaces.

Friday I made it to Industry Lab for the first time. I had been looking forward to it for a while, a new coworking space in Inman housing companies including Leaf Labs.  There was an art reception and screening of a couple short films.  The path to the reception in the artist studios led through several rooms of smaller companies- impressive to see how many were there.  From the turnout and energy at the event, there will definitely be more to come.

And beyond that, there is the p.irateship in somerville, blocks away from the Artisan’s Asylum, where the public lab in cambridge is based.  I’ve gone there for synth nights- exploring electronic music and synth building- and every few months there is a synth-in yielding tons of awesome projects.

There is Fringe Union, a co-working space for creative professionals.  I don’t find myself there too often (they throw an awesome winter party) but it is inspiring to hear of products like the cuppow which were created by a collaboration of in house talents.

An energy exists in these places- people who are really creating new things, from artistic to business pursuits.  There is so much I learn from just being in these places- being around these conversations- to knowing who to ask about electronics, or synth building, or understanding interaction design- and then talking about building products, manufacturing and the business side of things.  The learning is all intertwined- its not like reading articles or a book- its something between conversation, and play, it can come in bits or extended sessions.

The growth of these co working creative spaces- it is one of the things I love most about being here.

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