Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Gina Hooten

The Cohere coworking blog continues this week with a series written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, specialties, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Gina Hooten

Financial Analysis & Cost Accounting Manager
• University of Utah

Gina has been remote working since 2010, when she first moved to Fort Collins. She mentioned to a friend at one point that working from home was driving her mad (an experience I’m guessing at least two-thirds of Coherians have had), and her friend mentioned coworking spaces. And guess who was super close to home and, coincidentally, awesome? You guessed it: Galvanize.

Just kidding, it was Cohere.

Gina, who does cost accounting for Utah State University, lived with her family in Logan, UT, Colombia, MO and Manhattan, KS prior to moving here. I occasionally glimpse at some project she’s working on in Excel and feel completely illiterate despite having an MBA.

In response to the question, “What’s your favorite place you have ever lived?” Gina basically told me: (D) All of the above.

“Fort Collins has the best beer, Logan had the best skiing, Missouri had the best pizza, Manhattan had the best football.”

I like this because, (a) It’s fashionable to disparage my home state, Kansas, but it gets old. I’m glad when people who live in great places like Fort Collins or Moab look back on life in Kansas and say, “That was great, too!” (b) Not that many people claim to have been equally happy living in several places so different from one another. Gina’s response reflects something I already know, which is that she’s a very positive person.

What makes Cohere unique?

“I think this place is unique because it’s funky and it’s full of entrepreneurs and creative types. So I’m an accountant, right? I come in here and I’m surrounded by people doing weird things. In my life I work with spreadsheets and most of the people in here are not. It has kind of a hippy vibe to me, just very earthy, and that’s one of the things I like about it the most. It’s very genuine and relaxed.”

Favorite hobbies:

Knitting, cross country and downhill skiing, hiking and reading (especially science fiction). Patricia Briggs, Gina’s favorite author, is her self-professed guilty pleasure.

Do you have any pet peeves?

“I have trouble listening to people eat. It bothers me a lot (laughs). Other than that, I’m pretty reasonable, I think.”

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

Pickle Barrel. It’s like the happiest place on the planet. I love it – It’s fantastic. And then Scrumpy’s is also very good. They’re fantastic. Their BLTC is the best, with guacamole instead of mayo, that’s where it’s at.”

What makes a good Coherian?

“I would say someone who likes to laugh, because I think that’s what we like to do here. It really makes this place so wonderful, that we crack each other up. That’s one of the reasons I like Cohere, is to laugh during the workday. Because otherwise there’s no point.”

Favorite books:

“Right now, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books are probably my favorite. She writes one book a year and I re-read all the ones before it before I read the new one. Picking up and reading a new book is sometimes like meeting new people, and sometimes it’s hard to do that. So I just keep reading books that I’ve read over and over again.”

Favorite movie:

Big Lebowski. “That’s our Christmas movie and we watch it every year.”

In case you, like me, just realized you’re about 15 years overdue for Lebowski fix, you may have to dig out the VCR because it’s not on Netflix. Don’t get it mixed up with the fax machine sitting in your parents’ basement.

Go-to work music: Xavier Rudd

“Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!”

John Garvey is a Coherian, business journalist and marketing copywriter. Browse his portfolio here. Do it.

 

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Drew MacPherson

The Cohere coworking blog continues this week with a series written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, specialties, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Drew MacPherson

Research Manager

So coworkers, I finally figured out who’s behind all the weird new internet domains like .social, .today, .restaurant, .llc and even .rip (for Rest in Peace). It’s Drew.

Drew works for Donuts Inc, which manages the world’s largest portfolio of top level domains (TLDs).  Urban Dictionary helpfully defines TLDs as “the part of the url that comes after the final period and before the slash.” That’s pretty important to a lot of organizations and people managing their digital identities. For coworking, there isn’t a “.cowork” yet, but if you have about $225,000 burning a hole in your pocket, now you know who to talk to.

The most outlandish and funny domain that Drew ever encountered at work (TLD) was bong.rip. I know you’re disappointed you didn’t think of it first, but something else will come around.

Drew moved here in late 2016, three months prior to his son’s birth. He seems like he has his crap together a lot more than I ever remember feeling when my son was barely one year old.

“We came from Seattle, which I will take sunny and frigid cold over the winter weather there which, literally the forecast now is high of 43, low of 37, rain. Every day.”

Drew lived in Seoul, S. Korea for two years teaching English. Since that time, he’s lived in all the hipster places: a couple years in Austin, a fairly long stint in Seattle, and now Fort Collins.

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

“I’m definitely partial to Choice City, despite the insane waits some days. Their sandwiches are just super-delicious and I’ve definitely indulged in a sandwich and a pint on a Friday for lunch when I know I don’t have a lot of work to do.”

What’s makes Cohere special to you?

“Certainly the people are a big part of it. I’ve enjoyed meeting everyone that I have here and had some great funny conversations, some serious conversations.

“I do love the building itself. I mean, this building has soul and a bit of character and I know so many other spaces have kind of an office feel. So it’s really a cozy and comfortable place to come.”

Have you ever eaten a Puffin?

“I have not gotten to experience eating puffin – I consider this to be something missing from my life.”

Favorite pastime

“Honestly just walking. I’ve had a dog for ten years and made a commitment to walking it morning and evening. I’d probably, if I didn’t have to work, spend so much of my day walking. It’s simple but it’s wonderful.”

Favorite song

Sunday Morning Coming Down” (the Johnny Cash version)

Honorable mentions:

“These Days,” by Nicco is one of my favorites, my wife and I. She kind of introduced me to it and we had it as our procession song at the wedding. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” is another favorite, as is “My Proud Mountains” by Townes Van Zandt.

Long live Townes Van Zandt!

“Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!”

My home is Colorado
With their proud mountains tall
Where the rivers like gypsies
Down her black canyons fall
I’m a long, long way from Denver
With a long way to go
So lend an ear to my singing
‘Cause I’ll be back no more

  • Townes Van Zandt

John Garvey is a Cohere member, business journalist and marketing copywriter. You can see his work on his crappy beta website here. Stay posted for John’s GoFundMe campaign to raise $250,000 for a .garvey top level domain.

Meet Cohere Coworking Member Tavia Mirassou-Wolf

The Cohere coworking blog continues this week with a series written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, specialties, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Tavia Mirassou-Wolf

Communications and Development Manager

Sustainable Schools International

Tavia was most recently in her home state last September to run the Oregon Coast Rainshadow 50K. Coincidentally, her wedding reception was the following day.

Typical.

While that was Tavia’s first ultramarathon, she’s done several triathlons and other endurance races.

“It’s definitely one of my biggest pastimes. I spend a lot of time exercising.”

Tavia’s trademark hair has been purple, pink and (currently) magenta in the past year.

“I’ve always liked to have a brighter color, because you only live once. You might as well have some fun.”

Tavia has a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on global health and health disparities. She has more nonprofit experience than you can shake a stick at. That includes working as a health educator and support group coordinator for individuals with HIV/AIDS, English as a second language and reading tutor for low-income kids, nonprofit development aid focused on education for foster children, and an internship in Uganda evaluating a mental health facilitator program.

“I’ve been working in nonprofits basically ever since I can remember.”

Tavia currently works for Sustainable Schools International (SSI), which focuses on sustainable education for rural economic development in Cambodia.

Summarize what you do with SSI

“I do communications and development so I do all the communications for Sustainable Schools International including social media, monthly newsletters, communicating with donors—anything that has to do with communications, I do it. And then I’m also the manager of development, which is basically fundraising. So I organize and implement all our fundraising appeals and then come up with strategies to gain more funding through grants and foundations and expanding our donor base—things like that.”

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

Jax happy hour is the best. Happy hour’s awesome because you can get shrimp for five dollars and their drinks are really good, and so are their truffle fried potatoes!”

What makes Cohere unique?

Tavia began coworking at Cohere one day a week, alternating between our digs and another coworking space. With regard to the other place, “I didn’t feel like there was a huge sense of community. … Their business model was more on education and classes for digital media and then private offices. So they had a coworking space but I don’t really feel like there was a sense of community.

“I feel like here it’s mostly based around community and co-working and I feel like people here share their lives a lot and it’s not just working, which is really cool.”

What makes a good Coherian?

“I think a good Coherian is someone who’s willing to be open and share and help each other and also someone who can receive help.”

What’s a weird talent or something else unusual about you that not a lot of people know?

“I don’t really have any interesting, pointless talents, but I do have nine toes.”

What keeps you grounded?

“One of the major things that keeps me sane is exercising. When I don’t exercise I’m a crazy person. … So that kinda keeps me sane, and then my husband Kirby keeps me sane too. He listens to me when I’m crazy and that’s helpful.”

Do you have a personal mantra?

“You know I haven’t had one for a really long time. I should get a new one, but it used to be ‘Don’t let the sun go down while you’re still angry.’ So I always thought that was a good thing to live your life by. Don’t stay angry too long because you never know what’s gonna happen.”

Favorite book?

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Favorite movie?

Fight Club

Mellow.

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

John Garvey is a Cohere member, business journalist and marketing copywriter. Browse his portfolio here.

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Mark Nielsen

The Cohere coworking blog continues this week with a series written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, specialties, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Mark Nielsen

Science Education Program Officer Recovering Research Scientist

An Evergreen native, Mark recently moved back to Colorado after a stint in Corvallis, Oregon (where he got a Ph.D. in oceanography), Boston, and D.C. He came back to be near his family and to enjoy the Colorado lifestyle, which as you may have noticed, does not suck.

Mark’s science education app, EarthViewer, has been downloaded 2 ½ million times. It’s available for IOS, Android and as a web app. EarthViewer is free, it’s got a 4+ star rating in the App Store and it provides a mountain of information on the geological history of the earth. Want to know what Indonesia looked like a billion years ago? Try it out.

A Science Education Program Officer, Mark produces educational materials for science classrooms. Among other things, he designs apps and works on documentary films. With regard to documentaries, he’s basically the idea and content manager. When you’re working with scientists that sometimes means being a jargon filter. It also means fact-checking.

What’s your favorite documentary film that you’ve been involved in?

The Farthest. It’s about the grand tour of the Voyager spacecrafts. On that one, I was sort of a behind the scenes fact checker. I just think it’s an amazing film because the science in it is truly awe-inspiring and incredible when you think about it. The Voyager spacecraft is the only spacecraft that’s left the solar system, so it’s the furthest thing that humans have ever sent out there. This artifact out there will go for billions of years and eventually that will be all that’s left of humankind—a little spacecraft that was launched 40 years ago.

So telling that story was truly incredible.

Trailer: The Farthest: Voyager in Space

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant?

La Luz. I go for the burritos. I love burritos, and it’s odd that I would walk that far since there are like 40 restaurants along the way, but I do.

For coffee, I go for Mugs.

What’s a quirky talent that you have?

I can move my chin without the rest of my face. I used to be able to actually grab a pencil with it. I think that might be my only talent.

John: I can attest to this weird and highly-amusing gift. I’m sure you have other talents, Mark, but if that’s your only quirky talent than it’s good enough for me.)

What’s something we don’t know about you?

I was actually born in Australia and traveled around the world until I was 18 months old. I don’t remember any of it, but I have a deep sense of wanderlust now.

Mark’s dad was an exploration geologist whose work took them to Africa, New Guinea, Bali and elsewhere. I felt stupid for not knowing where Bali was until I looked it up and realized it’s smaller than the park I walk my kids to. Anyway, back to Mark …

Mark: Danish was my first language. I was bilingual from the start but mostly Danish was spoken in the home.

I’m also addicted to karaoke.

What makes Cohere unique?

What makes Cohere special is the community, which is a bit cliché. I think we all say that. But a Coherian has to be a willing participant in that community. That’s what makes coming to work fun for me.

What’s your favorite thing about the physical space?

That’s tough. I’m gonna go with the overall structure. There’s not one big room. You have the main work area, you’ve got the kitchen, the living area, the small conference room, the large conference room—I’ve used all of them. I like all the different options, the variety, and I don’t have a favorite.

Let’s stay on the topic of favorites.

  • Favorite pastime: Hockey. And Mark will totally check you if provoked so if you’re gonna act like a tool make sure you’re wearing hockey pads.
  • Favorite song: “Comfortably Numb,” by Pink Floyd
  • Favorite book: Whatever I’m reading at the moment—I love to read. If I don’t like the first 50 pages I just move on to something else, but I get really into books so after the first 50 pages I have to read all night.

Currently reading: Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel.

(I guess with a name like that it’s only natural to become a science fiction author.)

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

John Garvey is a Cohere member, business journalist and marketing copywriter. You can see his portfolio here

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Chrysta Bairre

The Cohere coworking blog continues this week with a series written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, specialties, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Chrysta Bairre

Career Coach • Speaker • Author

www.liveandlovework.com

Chrysta came to Fort Collins from the Denver area in 2003 rather than relocating to the East Coast with the company she was working for (Good call). “For me, coming to Fort Collins was a clean slate that felt really good,” she recently told me.

“I had worked at a staffing agency in Denver and I had the inside scoop on a lot of companies that were hiring there. It made me think that I didn’t want to work for them.”

(That makes me think of some bullets I could have dodged.…)

One of the catalysts for Chrysta’s business was her work/life balance blog which started drawing a lot of attention five or six years ago.

“I was finding that more and more people were coming to me for advice and really valued my counsel, and I was happy to give it. And I had people tell me ‘You should do this for a living.” I think the first time someone said that to me, I was like, ‘Do what? I don’t understand.’ I really didn’t see how that would work or what it would look like.”

By and by, that idea took shape, Chrysta received her career coaching certification and a company was born. She helps people get un-stuck in their careers, increase their influence, earn more and, for business owners, get more clients.

Although Chrysta has a personal office below our shared workspace, she spends a lot of time among us coworkers. She’s kind of a mover and shaker, always planning workshops and events including her women’s networking and leadership Meetup She Leads.

What’s something you find especially rewarding about your work?

What I find most rewarding about my work is when someone that I’ve been working with, or someone that’s just come to a workshop or speech I’ve given, is able to achieve one of their goals because of something that we’ve worked on together.

Looking at examples of people in my life and how I’ve helped them achieve more in their lives has always been a source of great reward for me.

What’s a quirky talent of yours?

I can plug my nose with my upper lip—built in nose plug! I thought everyone could do this and I brought it up to a group of my friends and realized that there was no one in the room other than me that could.

What’s your favorite walkable neighborhood restaurant or shop?

I for sure love to go to Avo’s (Avogadro’s Number) for Tempeh Tuesday because their tempeh burgers are the best, and Ace Hardware is a lot of fun. There’s all this kind of weird stuff in there that’s kind of cool.

… I mean there’s helpful stuff too. (It’s a hardware store.)

What makes Cohere unique?

What I love most about Cohere is the community that’s been built around the members. I love that in the living room there’s this nature painting that has a UFO in it. I feel that that painting is representative of what kind of community Cohere is and of its members.

For the most part, I think we’re all a little bit oddballs. We’re pretty mainstream, but we all have our little quirks and we come together in our quirks and we create this beautiful quirkiness. And that’s what I love about Cohere—it’s that element of uniqueness and comfort with just being whoever you are.

Yeah, that was the weirdest picnic I’ve ever been to.

I also feel like Angel’s a visionary in many ways and I like how she’s always doing something to improve the community and the space. There’s little improvements happening all the time. … She’s always finding ways to create a space that’s more comfortable, that’s better, more progressive.

What makes a good Coherian?

I think it goes back to that quirkiness. Most of us are creative in some form or another, so creativity, but also a willingness to show up authentically, even if that means being a little bit weird. Not being weird on purpose, you know, but…

John: Like Fort Collins weird as opposed to Boulder weird.

Chrysta: Yeah, right? But I also think people that care about the community, who want to be part of it and engage with people and make connections.

You want to spend time with people that are quirky and fun but also genuine and heartfelt. I feel like that’s something that I think every member I know here has in spades.

What’s your favorite pastime?

I have so many … I’m actually am a huge nerd, so in general being nerdy about anything that I’m really into, whether it’s a certain musician or band, science fiction, horror movies. I like to be around my nerdy peeps, and I like to go places where I can find my nerdy peeps.

I have a coloring book collection that I’ve been working on since my teens and I haven’t counted in a while but I probably have more than sixty. Other people are invited to color in my coloring books to—I just have one rule that they sign and date it.

Chrysta was ahead of the curve on that one.

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Dave Berndt, MD

This week we’re continuing with a new series on this Cohere coworking blog. It’s written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their pastimes, expertise, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

dave berndt

Dave Berndt

Physician and Healthcare Consultant

Dave, who we only recently discovered is an M.D., came to Fort Collins from Bozeman 2 ½ years ago. Before joining Cohere, he was a Staff Physician at CSU. Of historical note (this will sound more dramatic than it actually is) he cured my Schistosomiasis after I was exposed to it in Malawi. So I’m not saying you should go romping around barefoot in Africa, but if you do, he’s the one to talk to.

Context is a funny thing. I worked with Dave for a couple months before the recognition set in because I had never seen him outside of a healthcare facility. Nobody at Cohere knew he was a physician until last month, which made me wonder what other secrets he’s holding on to. I sat down with him yesterday to find out.

What brought you to Fort Collins?

Super long Montana winters, and feeling that it was a little too remote from civilization.

What do you do, anyway?

My job comes under the category of Utilization Review. That essentially means assessing either proposed or already completed medical care, along the whole spectrum of medicine, for what’s called medical necessity. That’s basically asking: Is that care supported by adequate scientific evidence and is it cost-effective?

There’s a lot of fraud, waste and abuse that occurs out in the healthcare world that contributes to the crazy high prices, of which my position is specifically meant to prevent. That’s the short and dirty of it.

What makes Cohere unique?

First, I love it here. It’s certainly unique to me because I’ve never been in a remote working position. I came here primarily for social reasons to not work alone in the corner. And I love the diversity of different types of coworkers that I meet. I learn things about all different fields. People are relaxed, super friendly, good senses of humor and can take work lightly. But if there needs to be a solid productivity period, there’s no problem achieving that either.

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant or cafe?

I’m going to risk being a rogue here and say I like Harbinger and Mugs equally for coffee. Then for a healthy lunch, there’s Revolution (Market) for salads. For non-salad lunch, Damn Good Tacos. They’re really amazing.

Those are the biggies.

What makes a good Coherian?

I think someone who’s fun, relatively relaxed and who can not take life too seriously but also be a responsible worker.

What’s something we don’t know about you?

I can crack my nose super loud.

Crack! Clacrack-clack! (Dave demo’d this for me and he wasn’t lying. It’s weird.)

What’s your favorite pastime?

I’m a sporty kind of guy so I really like trail running, I play a lot of tennis, and I’m a fly fisherman as well. I love fly fishing.

(John: I am admittedly jealous when I think of going on a fly fishing trip right now.)

Dave: You can get completely engrossed in your surroundings – bugs are hatching, fish meeting… It’s neat.

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

Meet the Cohere Coworking Members: Becca Verna

We’ve started a new series on this Cohere coworking blog. It’s written by Coherians ABOUT Coherians. We talk about their expertise, why they joined a coworking space, their favorite places in Fort Collins and what keeps them attached to Cohere.

Becca Verna

Graphic Designer and Content Writer

B.V. Style Shop

www.beccaverna.com

John: If you’re a remote worker or freelancer like me, you’ve thought at some point about throwing a dart at a map and uprooting yourself. Admit it. It sounds fun, but if you actually do it, I hope you end up in a town like Fort Collins. Becca didn’t get here by dumb luck.

Becca: “Coming here was strictly an elective move on my husband’s and my part,” Becca recently told me. “We had put together an extensive spreadsheet – which I’ve found out I’m not the only Coherian to have – with a whole analysis of prospective places to live. Fort Collins was on that spreadsheet and after a visit here we decided to make the move.”

Becca was lured here from Phoenix in late 2014 by many of the things we all love about the town: thoughtful and neighborly people, tons of sunshine, and an amazing social and recreational culture. Becca, who is known for being super collaborative and positive, worked from home for the better part of two years after the move. (We seriously don’t know how!) Teaching dance helped her fill that social gap. (The dance community here, while not quite on the “Bikes, Beer and Bluegrass” pedestal, is pretty on point.)

Becca, a freelancer, can do practically all things creative: web and logo design, branding, graphic design, content writing and curriculum design. Here’s more about her:

What brought you to Cohere?

Last February, I saw a Startup Week panel Angel was on called “How Coworking Can Save You from Destitution.” I’d already been thinking about going to a coworking space, so I went to that talk. I tried the free coworking day at all the different spaces, which was part of the free Startup Week offering. When I visited Cohere I just felt more at ease being here. It just seemed like a good fit.

Any surprises?

I think there’s a new surprise every day, just in getting to know the people here. I’ve enjoyed that process of learning new things about people, meeting new people as they join, meeting members that have been here that I just haven’t overlapped with, but when I do, it’s like meeting a new person again. It just feels like there’s a new good surprise every day.

What’s your favorite walkable restaurant/haunt?

Hmm. It’s gonna have to be Revolution Market, just because it’s my go-to for a quick sandwich or salad and they serve quality food at good prices. I also love that I can walk there—although I did just discover the Lost Cajun, which is fabulous.

What makes a good Coherian?

I think what makes a good Coherian is someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. You need to be open to spontaneous, random conversations and also creative collaborations with other members. If you only get in there to keep your head down and work and not get to know anybody in the community, then you’re missing out on so much of what being a Coherian is.

Interested in trying out Cohere? Snag a free day pass and visit us!

The Surprising Way Cohere Coworking Helped My Family

When it comes to coworking, you never know where or how inspiration will hit–unless you’ve activated your community using Cotivation.

Cotivation is a five-week program for members of a coworking community. Participants meet on a weekly basis to set goals and revisit previous commitments, so every participant has a chance to make progress with the help of fellow coworkers. Weekly meetings ensure everyone has a sense of accountability as well as ongoing guidance from helpful peers. Challenges are routinely identified, tackled, then re-examined, so participants can feel a sense of not just progress in their work but in their development as better professionals and more well-rounded people.”

2013-04-04-0095-Cohere

Cohere has had 6 cycles of Cotivation over the past 2 years. We decided to take a hiatus from it last summer due to travel and member Gina REALLY wanted Cotivation to keep going so she implemented it with her family!

Gina and I sat down over matchy-matchy mandarin salads at The Rainbow and I quizzed her about why she would take a “work” tool to her family.

Why did you join Cohere’s Cotivation group? I needed a kick in the @ss. I have these year long projects with huge deadlines and I have to keep moving forward on them no matter what. I wanted to have accountability to other people.

Why did you take Cotivation home? We were ending a family book club cycle and I suggested Cotivation as a way to work on our goals. We’ve been doing it for almost a year together. We do a weekly google hangout.

What benefits has your family seen as a result? HUGE RESULTS. My mom had retired and fell into a rut. Cotivation inspired her to re-certify as a teacher and begin subbing again. She also started exercising. My dad started exercising for the FIRST time in his life. He uses a Total Gym. ***at this point the conversation devolved into me telling Gina all about Chuck Norris Facts***

Gina loves that her parents are getting healthier and she loves that she’s now flossing on a regular basis. She also got to know her sister-in-law better which has been awesome.

What’s the best thing about Cotivation at Cohere? I love the safety of it, the non-judgmental aspect and how self motivating I found it to be. I had no fear in setting goals and giving progress updates because I don’t actually work for or with anyone in Cotivation. Just look how happy Gina is with her excellent gum health!

Gina Hooten

If you want to bring Cotivation to your coworking space, reach out to Tony and Susan! If you want to join Cohere and our next round of Cotivation, schedule a tour.

 

Coworking and Suicide: What the Spirograph Can Teach Us About Community

There are a thousand resources to learn how to be a community manager in a coworking space. But in all my six years of learning I never came across the chapter entitled, “How to handle the suicide of a member.” So I’ll write that chapter now and tell you how I was only able to put words to my feelings by using a Spirograph.

The Spirograph can teach us a lot about coworking, community, interaction and how we all weave an invisible net under people.

But first, let me tell you about Bill.

For the purposes of family privacy, I’ll name our member Bill. Bill came to Cohere in early 2014 to work on his freelance software project while attending school. He was always smiling, quick to chat and super excited about Cohere’s Pinball party. We all shared tacos at La Luz with Bill last May 24th. It was a really good night.

Bill stopped coming to Cohere and then in October emailed me to let me know he’d be cancelling b/c he had another office in town that required his presence more often. That’s a pretty typical scenario and set off exactly ZERO red flags for me. He told me he’d like to return in the spring. That would be now if he were still here.

My last email to him read, “Thanks for the note! It was good to see you the other night at ***. That’s neat that you have an office at ***! Congrats. I hope to see you in the summer.”

Earlier this week Bill’s wife messaged me to tell me that he had ended his long battle with depression in late January. I told her that he must have been in so much pain and was surprised that I didn’t notice. She told me that only two people in the world knew he was struggling. TWO people of the hundreds he interacted with over the past several years. Two. How could we not notice? How could we, as a community, have failed to spot the warning signs?

All I can say is that people with depression develop a helluva toolkit of coping mechanisms and mannerisms that defy their truth. It’s necessary. Society gets squeamish at the first hint of mental illness and it’s typically not a topic that will come up at the coffee pot, least of all at work.

So let’s remember Bill while we talk about the Spirograph. The Spirograph can teach us a lot about people, safety and coworking.

I borrowed this vintage set from Bryan and Maggie. Thanks, you two!

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To use the Spirograph, you have to pin down the primary ring onto a piece of cardboard using 4 pushpins. In the world of coworking, this ring is your coworking space. It’s the physical space, the container that holds all the neat things that happen every day. We can put your communication software in this container too. Your slack channel, your Facebook group, your Cobot, your Group Buzzio. The four pins become the holy quadrangle of coworking space amenities: wifi, coffee, electricity and redundant wifi. Those four things anchor a community to one physical space.

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Next come the plethora of little gear doodads. Those are your members. Each gear is a type of member and each gear has between 5 and 33 holes. Each hole makes the gear do something different and each hole is an emotion or behavior.

Next you need some pens. Not only does each member become a gear but they also each get their own unique color. Cohere would need 55 colors today. One for each member.

As you begin to rotate the pen in a gear, you’ll find that it’s actually quite hard. There’s a fair amount of concentration required. Here’s my first attempt. Yikes. That’s a little like being a new community manager. You try really hard but still fuck up at first. It’s normal.

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In my second attempt, everything becomes clear. With every color change, I change gears and holes and a unique pattern emerges. Each color and rotation of the gear makes loops that intersect with every other color that’s already there. Those intersections are the interactions between your members. See how many there are? Thousands, maybe even millions.

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At each intersection, we would hope our members are truly seeing one another, listening and helping each other. After only 3 colors, you’ll see how utterly complex the design is. That’s the web of safety that communities are striving to weave under one another. That web is made up of high fives, hugs, sharing, listening and laughter.

Who knows if Cohere could have held him if he’d stayed at Cohere for an extra 2.5 months. We’ll never get the chance to find out. So my fervent plea to you, out there in the world today tackling your to-do list and worrying about what’s for dinner is to SEE your fellow members. Ask and listen and hug and laugh and BE THERE. Weave a tight web among yourselves that is unbreakable even by the worst depression. If you have depression, fucking SHARE that with your community no matter how terrible it seems and hopeless you feel. Find 3 people to put on speed dial for the darkest of times.

Since announcing the death of Bill, we’ve had members come forward to share their own struggles with depression. That shit matters because we can tighten the net for them. We’ve opened the door to this oh-so-hard conversation and now we can build interactions around that.

Coworking, like the Spirograph is complicated, “It is possible to move several pieces in relation to each other…, but this requires concentration or even additional assistance from other artists.” -Wikipedia

Even the Spirograph, a child’s toy, admits you might need help from a friend to do the hard stuff.

Today we remember Bill. Today we have a Spirograph out for anyone to try but it’s okay to ask for help. We’re here for you. And here’s the National Number to call if you’re in crisis right now. 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Hey Neighbor! Meet The Birdsong Katz Team

We’re resurrecting Featured Member posts. These Q&As let you peek behind the curtain of Cohere. Find out what makes our members tick and why, in a world (Fort Collins) of almost limitless work choices, they choose Cohere as their preferred shared office community. This motley crew resides in the former “Estrogen Den” on the lower level of Cohere.

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From left: David, Ryan, Stuart.

How long have you been in the neighborhood, and what brought you here? Why choose Cohere over any old office?

David: We have been at Cohere for 3 or 4 months.  We love the location and the more laid-back atmosphere.  The sight of cubicles make me nauseous. 

Ryan: I’ve been in Colorado for over 5 years. 1 year and a half of that in Denver. The rest of the time I’ve lived in Fort Collins. The mountains, progressive eco-mindset and the promise of new adventure brought me here. Cohere is so much better than a totally empty private office space and offers the benefits of synergy and people to visit with when you are going cross-eyed from staring at your computer screen. Plus doggie friendly :)

Stuart: I’ve been in Fort Collins for 6 years. Moved to escape the wind in Wyoming, although I do miss Wyoming. We chose Cohere because we liked the idea of sharing Peanut Butter (Crunchy of course), proximity to all of my vices Harbingers, Lucille’s, 415, Dam good Tacos'(I am fat now as the result of this) and of course Angel’s dry sense of Humor. Truthfully, we liked the flexible lease terms and overall idea of co working. We have thoroughly enjoyed our time being here. Editor’s note since Stuart is a Realtor and we’ve been over this before…this isn’t a lease. It’s a membership. Remember?!

What do you all do for work … and play?

David: We are real estate professionals that help people develop opportunities for themselves and their family’s.  For play, I can only speak for myself…. If I could ski or saltwater fly fish every day I would be “OK” with that.

Ryan: Work for Me = Executive Administrator – We can’t ALL be at Harbinger -So I handle overseeing file completion, marketing design & execution, business & marketing consultation, social media, research, managing web presence, creation of team systems and creatively thinking out-of-the-box for our clients. I truly enjoy properties, details and research. Real Estate is full of new obstacles and unique situations. I really enjoy complex problem solving and helping others. Play for Me = hiking, mountain biking, yoga, thrift shopping, painting and ceramics.  

Stuart: Full Time Parent and Real Estate Investor/ Broker. I love to Fly Fish, Ski and any activity in the outdoors that doesn’t involve Horses.

What makes this neighborhood unique?

David: The neighborhood is in walking distance to 3 of my favorite places to indulge. Lucile’s, Harbinger Coffee, & Damn Good Tacos.

Ryan: Super friendly people, “house” businesses that Colorado loves so much, the train running down the street, mix of businesses and homes with a focus on local privately owned businesses.

Stuart: Angel,… duh

What makes YOUR team unique? (hidden talents? odd habits? guilty pleasures? etc.)

David: Unique?  Have you met Stuart?

Ryan: Our team is unique in that we each have a valuable yet specific skill-set. We all really excel in our areas of expertise with little overlap and that has allowed for a natural, sustainable role-creation. We also have a similar sense of humor which never hurts a group dynamic. Dave and Stuart like to drive around in their matching trucks and talk smack to each other at traffic lights. They also have several “bro-mances” in the industry besides their total ‘old married business couple’ banter. Sometimes they have very differing opinions on things but that has created an environment where we don’t fear but embrace the progress of conflict. This is a necessity of a functional team. Dave and Stuart love to play- travel, ski, bike – etc. What makes our team unique is that they think that is just as important for me to go play and have that balance as well. Dave and I are both junkies for new industry and business techniques, ideas and approaches. Fun Facts: Dave has a strong weakness for chocolate and an affinity for electronics- destroying them upon touch. Stuart is a master at old man noises. Also, Stuart serenades me daily ;) Ask for a personal song – I’m sure he’d be happy to share his massive, massive talents.

Stuart: Dave and Ryan may be the loudest speakers in the building. Thankfully, we are in the basement. Ryan is a surprising Do-it-yourselfer; She can rebuild dishwashers, stoves and any electronic appliance you cannot figure out. In addition to that, she is an exceptional communicator(other than loud speaker) and makes our business run flawlessly, despite Dave and I’s obvious quirks. Dave, on the other hand, is not allowed anywhere near electronics (It will most likely combust in his presence). Truthfully, Dave is all about Self Motivation and Personal Development. He genuinely cares about the people he works with and has a 110% commitment to being a great Dad, Husband, and businessmen. Our team is awesome, despite me, and I am thankful to work with them every day.

Favorite neighborhood haunts (nearby restaurants, stores, businesses you frequent)?

David: See above.

Ryan: Flamingo Boutique and Find Of The Day – Told you i was thrifty ;)

Stuart: I go to Harbinger Coffee 6 days a week(and Thanks for the 10% discount) and Lucilles once a week with my Wife, Cassady, and Daughter, Stella, strictly for the weekly pancake special.

In your opinion, what makes a good neighbor?

David: There is some old book that says “help thy Neighbor” (or something like that)

Ryan: “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”
Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers (Just for you, Angel)

Courtesy and kindness are just as powerful as anger and alienation. We’re all in this environment for different reasons/purpose. The next Cohere member’s purpose/mission and mine are different- each day. My mission doesn’t really help their mission or vice versa. People could easily not be friendly because they don’t have a specific reason to (i.e. no negative consequences from HR, trouble from your boss, etc). Yet, in this environment we are helpful to each other- with no real benefit to ourselves. That to me, is what makes a good neighbor. No strings attached – no personal benefits up your sleeve – truly just being helpful and courteous to your fellow man.
Plus the consistent flow of donuts into this building may be related…

Stuart: A smile and a hello, when you see them.

What’s your favorite part of Cohere?

David: Angel…duh.

Ryan: The witty instructional notes, environmentally conscientious, random silly surveys on personal hygiene, dog friendly environment and the opportunity to connect with others.

Stuart: Everything.

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