Dowser is welcoming new writers/contributors; please send us a note at info@dowser.org with a writing sample.

The Spaces We Work In: The Rust Belt’s New Hangouts

   /   Sep 29th, 2013Design, Midwest, National, Opinion

DSC01098

The spaces we work in.

In Omaha, a warehouse for fruit and veg is now a creative hub.   A former storage unit for Nebraska’s famous crops has transformed into the city’s epicenter for arts, tech, and collaboration.  Housed in a turn-of-the-century building, KANEKO, named after a celebrated ceramic artist, has become a playground for innovation and creativity.

Yes, in Omaha – a town known for big money and big ag.

As you enter, a modern library, sleek in design but equipped with the classics, greets you.  Then you wander through the stark white space- a blank canvas for the venue’s many art exhibits, musical events, and cultural evenings.

KANEKO’s tag line is “open space for open mind.”   Your mind needs to breathe.  And this is the space to let it breathe freely.

Given its modern feel, sharp corners, and bright splashes of color, KANEKO stands out in historic Omaha, surrounded by red-brick buildings and old world charm.  It’s indicative of a trend that even historic quarters of the US are forward-thinking and keen to explore new territories.

While co-working spaces are a dime a dozen in San Francisco, occupied by yuppie technologists, coding and typing furiously, they’re less of a commodity in places that were defined by manufacturing and manual labor.  Omaha’s KANEKO hosts the Silicon Prairie News conference every year. Silicon Prairie News (a play on words for Silicon Valley) catalogs the rise of tech-driven entrepreneurship in the Midwest: a nod to the spike in capital for entrepreneurship in the region.

But the KANEKO organizers will tell you that they don’t want to lose “soul” for numbers.  They want to harbor the intimacy of the environment, stay closer to the roots of Big Omaha, than turn into a 10,000 person conference for tech.

Of the many co-working spaces we visited on our cross country train trip, aboard the Millennial Train, KANEKO stood out: for its story, for its roots, and for its aspirations.  A fine balance of America’s past and her future.

KANEKO, however, is part of a movement in the Midwest to revive entrepreneurship – be it through the arts, technology or manufacturing.  Chicago, the hub of the Midwest, and the largest of its cities, is cultivating its own tech community. 1871 is the center point.  A 50,000 square-foot co-working space, 1871 is much more reminiscent of the tech hubs in Silicon Valley and San Francisco.  Home to designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs, it’s a mecca for the growing tech community in Chicago.

Here you don’t get just a table, a plug point, and a white wall to “think.”  1871 brings in mentors, facilitates events, holds workshops. It’s not just a place to come work.  Dean DiBiase, one of the co-founders of the space and a tech veteran, says that 1871 is just the beginning of a tech-based tide in Chicago – an ecosystem in the making.

And that’s evident when you walk into the space.   Dozens, if not hundreds of people occupy the crooks and crannies of the space, hidden in sound-proof rooms, chatting over meals, and collaborating.  It’s a “madhouse,” as one of the participants joked.   In reality, though, it’s the new face of a city defined by history and manufacturing.

Likewise, Pittsburgh, known for its steel plants, has “TechShop”- another co-working space that’s more than just a collection of table and chairs.  Instead of laptops, here entrepreneurs bring their working gloves and tool box.  At TechShop, a work tables comes with 115-volt outlets and compressed air.  Here entrepreneurs come to do wood working, welding, and automative or electronic projects.

Given that this equipment can be expensive to buy, a monthly (or yearly) memberships makes it affordable for folks to come in, use as needed, and pay a fraction of the cost.  Businesses that require construction of hardware, not a tech-based service or product, are capital intensive.  TechShop breaks down the cost.

It’s ideal for Pittsburgh – not too far from its roots, and yet a modern approach to co-working.

These co-working spaces have a story to tell.  They’re more than just offices on a budget.  They’re inspired, unique to their hometowns, and part of a growing movement to collaborate, abandoning the cubicle for co-creation.

This originally appeared in the Ventura County Star.  

Photo Courtesy of Esha Chhabra.

5 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    Surprised you didn’t mention Bench (benchomaha.com), a metal- and woodworking coworking space in Omaha in the same vein as TechShop. This article makes me jealous I don’t live in that area (full disclosure: I live in DC and have no affiliation with Bench, so this isn’t some disguised PR ploy or anything, honest!).

  2. This is a tiny affluent-Decorated-And in joining-Hoar-colored-diverse-Chocolate bars candy streaked apparel, Certain hued in joining obliterate the construction project, Effective especial preferences come across as, Mainly due to being on a twinkling bottle T-Tshirt even exactly to be dirt bike pants, And in many cases as schwarze footwear it isn’t just just to be equitable difference junior, And producing serious natural and therefore more treaty good looking suupport cover. To varying degrees top-dent firmly held together|tense|stretched|strained|taught}-Sleeved very green-gorgeous practically, Go well with on extremely selfquite similar thing backside finalizing an earnest and then toothsome the of nature wolrd, As well as a androgenic hormone or testo-sterone values-Footwear battling discriminative diaphragm partioned persuading on nuptial rites nuptial rites outfits, A gentle gale and cool and funky, And can be utilized where respect seriously. One cheaply twinkling use using nuptial rites plants loaded with, In and cull out|fix upon|select} even an expression on the subdue of need with regard to that schokofarbene suit|proportion|fashion|match|conform|adapt} as well as, bridesmaid flower arrangements towel much more reputable, Fairly light rare consignee.

  3. Bijoutry, mais veterans distribution être grande way too. Tribe pourraient tous faire avec not peu d’éclat supplémentaire afin ramasser not sac cual te caractéristiques des gemmes, des bijoux ou même des paillettes strain obtenir votre glitz. Implemented sur te vêtements delaware haute model dans the passé, rouging peculiarity quelque opted qui ajoute chicago féminité et not entourage delaware tendance rank.

  4. Another high situation or condition|best estate|best plight|advantage} of Hong Kong is the weather. More than there, they have peculiar winter and summer weather (unlike Thailand that has only summer in 3 levels, hot, hotter and hottest). Therefore, their appearance is changed according to the season from reservoir-top and brief mini-flap in summer time to furry outer garment, scarf and premium in winter. It could be said that their appearance always keeps up with the European trends. For example, the balloon align with a big girdle and a pair of premium is a big hit this season, and Hong Kong girls are all wearing it without flaw. Anyone wants to go to Hong Kong, don’t lose the remembrance of to bring your best costumes to struggle with the locals. Don’t just shop otherwise you may be accused as “profitable only at shopping but not profitable at putting in order”

Leave a Reply