Citizen Space: End of one era, beginning of the next


In early 2006, a group of us dreamers got together in a coffee shop in the Mission District of San Francisco to discuss how we were going to start a permanent space that was "like" a coffee shop, but was intended for independents and digital nomads who needed a place to work with others but separately. That meeting turned into a space and then another space and then something really amazing happened...because we did this all publicly and transparently, it started a worldwide movement. That movement is Coworking, which at last count is a loosely-joined consortium of over 600 spaces worldwide and growing. There are now more than 3,000 members on the Google Group representing pretty much every country in the world. I have no idea how many people have been touched by Coworking (have worked in a space). But I'm pretty sure we can safely assume close to 100,000.

Citizen Space has always been my baby, though I still administer the Google Group and I used to be in charge of the blog (now that honor belongs to the fabulous Angel Kwiatkowski of Cohere) and tried to keep up the wiki (which now the equally fantastic Jacob Sayles of Office Nomads makes sure is clean as a whistle). I opened Citizen Space with Chris Messina in November of 2006 and expanded it with Hillary Hartley in February 2009.

When we opened CS, there were some other coworking-ish spaces in town: artist spaces, writers spaces and, of course Teh Hat Factory (which we opened with several others in spring 2006). But there weren't any Coworking spaces. Today I think there are something like 7 or 8 of them. And they are doing a damned fine job of moving the movement forward and serving the needs of the community.

Which is why when we were told by April (Citizen Space General Manager) that the space was declining in membership and, well, it wasn't really the community hub it used to be, I sat back and pondered the future of Citizen Space. It used to be the beacon for the movement - being one of the first spaces that launched the movement PLUS being run by a couple of the founders of the movement - but now the movement itself is well on its way and doesn't need a beacon. It has real momentum and new hubs.

So...the time has come for Citizen Space to move on. We've put a call out to see if anyone wants to take it over or otherwise put the time into it that we no longer can (I'm in Montreal, Hillary has a baby and a house outside of SF and Chris is at Google), but really, I'm more than okay with letting it go. It's done its job. She's created her legacy.

Stay tuned for the next steps. There will be a sale of the contents if we do end up shutting down and DEFINITELY a big party. I'll be coming to San Francisco for both.

Thank you for everything over the years. Working there. Supporting us. Coming to the events. Telling others about the space. And generally being amazing ambassadors of the movement that I'm incredibly proud of being a part of from the beginning. I love the community and what has emerged. I know that will live on. I hope you will be able to join me in San Francisco to bid adieu to one beacon of one era and ring in the next!

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