Coworking Values Podcast
Coworking Values Podcast

Episode · 2 years ago

Ashley Proctor: The Coworking Idea Project

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Hello European Coworking Community! We’re back with another scintillating episode for Coworking Values Podcast.

And for this episode we welcome back Ashley Proctor, founder of Creative Blueprint & Coworking Canada. She talked about Movement vs Industry with us before about — how running a genuine coworking space makes entrepreneurship accessible and breaks down barriers. With that she is known for her works with Coworking Canada, Coworking Toronto and Coworking Ontario bringing these communities together and leading them to be inclusive and diverse.

And this episode she will be delving on the Coworking Idea Project, wherein they are pushing for a more inclusive, diverse and equal coworking industry. And she will also talk about “A Just Cause for All”, a movement that aims to push for a just recovery from the business from the pandemic.

Hello, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to the coworking values podcast. I'm really excited because this is my first recording of this podcast in my fifteen minute city coworking space near my house. So you know. So all these PODCASTS, you know I've manifested a coworking space near my house. And, Sonny Offord, that won't mean much to most of you, but it's a big deal and you sound exactly the same no matter where you are. You know this is I do know that, but it's this. It's so exciting. It genuinely is. I'm so where are you? I'm exactly where I have been all these times that we record the podcast, at my home, in my home studio, next to my lovely microphone. And that's it in suboct car. Yeah, I was. I was wondering when you're going to screw that up to okay, let's go to a message from our sponsor. This episode is brought to you by COB on, are leading management software for coworking spaces, office hubs and flexible work spaces around the world. You know, one of the best things about Chabad is that it is produced by people who manage a coworking space and know the INS and out of the main problems and issues bugging coworking managers. So if you want more time for your coworkers and community, check out cobalt had but Dar me and take your coworking management to the next level. And Dad was cobalt so Bernie. What do we have for today? We have we have the this is like having Lou read on your podcast. Or I can't think of anything else, but this is some it's Ashley who's I make this joke about, actually that she's only just joined co working and some people believe it, but we actually what are you knowing for and what would you like to be known for? Well, great question. I believe I am known for my work in car working in Canada and I hope that I am known for my work with collectives and bringing people together. Believe things better than we found them. You are definitely known for that, and so it's a couple of things we need to get to you today, because I've been I've been saying come on our podcast for a long time now and I've left it like forty eight hours before your event, which will get to you later. And and also there's the there's the idea project, which is very connected to what we're doing here in the European coworking assembly. So can you just riff on that for a little bit, because it is so important and we want to we are, I hope you are, really supporting it. About the CO working idea project? Yes, sure. For the coworking idea project, first of all, idea US stands for inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility and we refer to it as the idea project for short, because we say these things a lot in our work. Basically,...

...what that is is the idea that we're really proud of the movement that we've created collectively, the coworking movement. But we've watched the global coworking conversation drift from its core values and the core values around community collaboration, accessibility, openness and sustainability, and we're seeing that move towards more of a financial and a corporate sort of construct around coworking and the industry. In addition to that, we also exist, you know, in a world full of systemic racism and sexism and colonialism and there are so many other disparities in our society, and so these are going to be predictably found within our industry and our events in our communities as well, and so the folks that are working through the idea project are really committed to resentering those connections. We want to really focus on communal care, creative collaborations, human connections, all of the goodness that coworking was founded upon, but also really make sure that we are now centering around being committed to making the coworking industry and more diverse or inclusive, more equitable and more accessible. So the project is really a way for us all to come together as community or organizers from around the world. We are already doing work in our own local communities or for groups that are relevant to our spaces or own lived experiences, and we're bringing our best practices and sharing these things together so that we can accelerate the world. So, through my company, creatively print, we started talking to organizations in the coworking industry and asking them what they're doing to address these issues around inclusion and diversity and accessibility and what they're working on and what they're creating, and many of them came back with the same kind of feedback. It was really interesting. From the large organizations and conferences to the smaller, independently run spaces or specialized spaces. They also that they a agree with the initiative and principle to make the coworking movement where accessible and diverse and inclusive, but that they also felt really overwhelmed by the magnitude of the issue and they didn't know where to start or where to best invest their time or resources. And it's understandable with everything that people are going through, with this pandemic and really trying to either get back on their feed or hold on to a space for their community or take care of their community members, in whatever form that might be. Right now, people are struggling already and the idea of taking on additional work that might be new or scary or unknown was overwhelming to some. And people were really excited about the idea of collabor art of effort as well, because things seem to be easier to tackle with many hands. So the way that the organization can really help is by providing a safe or a neutral space to do and host some of this work for the Movement for the industry. It's also an organization that we would like to use to issue challenges. So industry wide calls to action and each...

...month, in two thousand and twenty one, we're going to begin issuing challenges to the coworking industry, operator is an event producers, asking them to really step up and work with us to learn more and to do better in our communities. That's it. That, that way of chunking it down worked really well for people we spoke to in London, because at first I was like, how's this going to work? And then when it turned into because there's a lot of online communities on part of and we do things in a like a ninety day, three month basis or we have monthly challenges and stuff like that, and and that gave that helped us. I mean, I don't know what it is yet, but that helps like road map it out in okay, so we don't have to think. We start to think about the next month, not trying to because there's so much information out there about this and it is really important. Like in London there is every time there's a coworking conference by anybody, is just mainly white men, and every line up in all the co working conferences we will now around the world are just, you know, predominantly white males, and I it's something for a long time we wanted to sort out and so a collective kind of push on doing that is is very, very welcome. How did them? How's it going to work? Or actually, can you say about December, because that's before we go any further. We don't like hide the big thing. So in December we'll have an event and can you say how that's going to work? The idea of project? We're meeting as a group on December nine and it's really an open public event to anyone in or related to the coworking industry, whether it be event producers or space operators or community managers or even numbers, who are interested in making the coworking movement more inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible. We come together and we're really just talking about action items and next steps and who would like to be part of that organizing team, because this is not my project by any means. I'm responsible right now for helping to facilitate these conversations and to act as a connector within the coworking industry, but my role will diminish over time in our collaborative leadership and that facilitation will really be visibly and intentionally modeled. So we're looking for folks who really want to help drive this forward as well. There are so many other activists and advocates that have come before US and other people in the industry and in diversity and inclusion work who are doing incredible work already and we really want to work with them and engage them and bring them into our movement. So that's that event coming up and it's a again, like I said, open to the public. Can you explain a little bit how you laid the path from that, because it's not like it's not like you suddenly woke up this morning I said, let's have an event in December, this being a there's been a lot of configuration beforehand, which I think is important too. Yeah, and and honestly, like it's around the collective gathering. I build collectives, I like to...

...organize people and try to provide solutions to problems with collaborative democratic engagement and collaborative leadership. So this is a something I think I am now known for, and so it's a bit easier for me to reach out the folks and say this isn't my project, but I really want you to be a part of the team and I'd love for you to show up and and and be involved in whatever way makes the most sense for you and your organization. And I use this reference a lot, but it's really important to me and I feel like it is like a choir and if we're all working towards these holes, we need to be able to take a breath and to take a break. But the note will carry on if other Chore Members Keep Singing. And so we do this work collectively. We allow ourselves the room and the space to think about our own wellness and self care and to be able to prevent burn out by stepping back doing what we need to do for our communities and for ourselves and our families and then stepping back into the work and reengaging with our communities on that social impact level. How so always ask people how do we like forget about minorities in coworking and events like because we had a podcast ouder on with Tash around this and then Alex Hillman spoke about this earlier on. So you know comes up a lot about how we invite people. But what's your take on that at the moment? So forget about is an interesting takes. I know I exist in certain circles, and so I'm basing this on my own perspective and experience, but I think that we built this movement on those core values of diversity and inclusivity and we've known for a very long time that the really good community focus, community lad spaces and coworking are diverse, they are inclusive or they're working really hard to be, and those could be spaces, events, conferences, organizations. You can tell is that feeling of belonging, of welcominess when you walk into a space that we all talk about. It's something that brings us together that's beyond coworking. We might not have coworking in common anymore. Some of us are closing our spaces or changing our roles in the coworking industry, but we still believe in that principal well, that a good community is collaborative and open and accessible and diverse and inclusive and sustainable. It's really about gathering around those values and it really frustrates me that what gets a tension in the industry is the we work is the mail dominated, tech focused, growth focused frat has feeling coworking vibe that so many people here about and because of that they miss out on the real, genuine spirit of coworking. I get frustrated that coworking is misrepresented in the books that are coming out and that many leaders in the industry allow this to continue, that we're misunderstood. It's an opportunity really for us to challenge the status quote.

So you get to do this in your community or in your organization, and I'm choosing to do that in mind and I hope that there are others out there that are choosing for it to be different as well. Now let's move on to the fact that you didn't mention at the beginning that to Ashley's coming young on this podcast from Canada, and what she just the touch based on is that we are all in the pandemic and some of some of us are closing down their spaces, some of us are starting to their spaces, and everything will be different once we get through this. Whatever. This is crisis situation, Satan, let's just say so. Ashley, you're involved in something else that's called just recovery or just recovery for all. Can you tell us something more about that? Yeah, so just recovery is not my project, but it's something I'm really proud of in Canada and I think is being modeled and will be modeled in future projects to come. So just recovery project is basically the statement. I mean. We're building a movement for a just recovery and in Canada hundreds and hundreds of organizations have endorsed these collective principles of a just recovery and by signing on they're really, you know, committing to consider and to use and consult and use these principles in their policy creation moving forward. And so the principles for just recovery, I'll go for them quickly to see if can understand, are to put people's health and wellbeing first, no exceptions, to strengthen the social safety net and provide relief directly to people, to prioritize the needs of workers and communities, to build resilience to prevent future crises, to build solidarity and equity across communities, generations and boarders and in Canada, to uphold indigenous rights and work in partnership with Indigenous People's and I think that this is really important as a model again, and we're seeing this act across counta in a lot of our collaborative work and know, were known for collaboration in Canada, but this is also a shift that we're seeing. Being in Canada in terms of doing nothing is no longer an option, and so if you're not part of the solution, you're definitely a part of the problem. And that's the vibe that we have here in Canada right now and I think it's a really incredible opportunity for these organizations, who are led by really passionate and driven young leaders. They have they lead diverse and inclusive and accessible local community led organizations and they have nothing to lose. And that's the perfect storm in Canada. And can you tell us? So, did the this movement and idea like start recently, or is it something that's been evolving for quite some time and just has, you know, formed around this situation? And you know, where is it now? Yeah, it's really formed around the pandemic and we've decided collectively that we can't go back to business as...

...usual after this pandemic and that this movement for a just recovery all puts people first, and that's a shift that we're dedicated to in Canada. And so these organizations are not just social impact or social innovation or social enterprises or nonprofits. There are many organizations and for profit companies that understand this is the only way forward, having seen this and experienced it directly, and many of us are still experiencing a small business owners, as local community organizers, so many of us are in the middle of it. The only thing we know coming out of the other side is that we don't want to go back, and I even think that the the name just recovery and the buildback better may even be misleading in the sense of there's no going back. I mean we have yet to experience true gender equality as a society, we've yet to experience life without racism or discrimination and we've yet to exist in a system without oppression. So I'm convinced that we could live to experience it, but only if we start demanding better and doing that collectively. And, as Bernie was saying, that's how we get changed in the co working industry as well, is we just decide that's not acceptable behavior anymore, that is not acceptable representation of the industry or what we're trying to achieve, or not acceptable way to program a panel. We just don't accept it, and I think that's the new vibe and the tone that I'm really loving about the work that we're doing these days in Canada. I think as we run around talking to people, is people, but particularly you know, when George Floyd got murdered and we came to like every month here in London from March to the end of all Wust, we had two cools every week and then George Floyd's murder happened in the middle of it and people who I didn't think how to position on this said I've been thinking about this for ages and said I've been on courses about anti racism because I thought it was important, but I never knew whether I could say it here or not and it seemed a bit weird that the co Working Assembly was somewhere that you might not be sure about whether to say whether you were anti racist or not, and that seemed odd. And then, and for a long even before this, we we've done things with exodus and cobot here in London around cultural appropriation, where Tara from Canada, in I can never remember where's it was a distant Winnipeg, is it? Yeah, yeah, when it I quit it right, you know, came over and talked about indigenous people and things like that, and we've run, and which you've always taken part in, actually events at coworking Europe around inclusion and diversity and equality, and it just it really Saden me this year where a lot of these events have been online and there's been this huge move around. If you have an event online, there's no excuse to have a all male panel talking about real estate. And I know another thing that I broke my heart even before covid was someone who's quite prominent, a female that's quite prominent in the coworking...

...industry, was invited to head up a panel at a real estate conference in London about coworking and she was like, Oh yeah, this would be great and they said I would be good to have a woman and she thought that was it, and then she got slipped an invoice for I think it was like one fifteen hundred pounds for the privilege of leading a panel at a real estate conference on coworking. So then it became like a sponsored appearance rather than a you know, valued for for what she is, and I just I just think it shit ready and I would hope to all you conference organizers out there next year we see gender balanced and race. How do you say? Probably actually racially bad, ethnically balanced. Always stumble O my words here, which is why I keep tash with me. Yeah, I think it's really just about diversity in general, because we're talking about perspectives of different ages, races, ages, abilities, lived experience, location, all of these things, and so it's not necessarily visually obvious, but if you're getting a diverse variety of perspectives, that's what we need to learn. We don't learn from ourselves, we learn from each other. That's why I wanted to say. The other thing I'd like to mention around conference organizing. So I've I've challenged myself to see if I could pull an unconference together in two weeks that was diverse and gender balanced and representative of different perspectives across the country, in and out of coworking and the typical sense. And so that's really what co Working Canada is all about. This year it's a small taste of the the normal event. Typically our Canadian gatherings in person, but moving forward for the next foreseeable future, because of the pandemic restrictions, will be gathering online to continue our work as a collective. But this event that's coming up a December. Second is really designed to bring folks together from all different perspectives and experiences across Canada and co working and to see what we might be able to do collaboratively together and how we might be able to support each other. And I think it would be a great example for folks who are maybe looking to learn how they might be able to do that at their event and what that might look like to try it out. So I can come to Canada without coming to Canada. That's the best part of this pandemic, is making these events more accessible, because it's now normal together online, and I've been hoping for this for a long time because now we can have folks from all across the country and outside of the country join at a very accessible price or free of charge and really be able to share speakers from around the world and Best Practices as well. That's one of the things I've loved about covid. I've really missed not meeting up in real life and an all our co working camps and stuff like that, but the the ability to im so I've never been more deeply connected to everyone around the globe as a result of this. So it's a great thing. So with where can we go for tickets? If you're looking...

...for coworking Canada, go to co Working Canadacom. And if you're looking for any kind of updates on the idea project or any of the other projects I mentioned are I'm working on, you can find them on my website on creative blueprint. That see, W W and do you do you have a social media account? Is that? Is that your thing? Oh, there are so many of them. Again, if you go to creative blue code, working ashleycom creative blueprint, that't see. You can find everything there. Great and and just shout out again where the the idea project is. And with all of these things, were put links in the show notes, Ladies and gentlemen, yeah, they'll be a zoom registration link for the idea project and you can find more information currently on creative blueprint as ye, but you'll find it eventually. I'm for working dot Org. Brilliant, Salko. Any final words for the both our listeners, for both our listeners, you know, check out the the websites that we're going to have within the within the links of the episode, and definitely definitely read through them. There is, and also if you go to one of those websites, will be coworking assembly dot AU, and sort of hang around there for much shorter than I'd like to have as a experience marketer and in a pop up will come up and you can put your email address in there and we send all the blogs, and not all the blogs, because you ever stop reading, but blogs and podcasts from news and events from around the coworking Europe universe. So thanks very much for your time today, Ashley. Cheers, Y'LL COO and be carefully out their legendentleman, it is a jungle.

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