Can the real coworking activists please stand up?

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The power that resides within coworking hubs is massive. Motivated, forward-thinking individuals with limitless ideas seek to collaborate and solve everyday problems. 

Stephanie Gamauf is, as she calls herself, a passionate coworking activist, involved in Impact Brixton, OurSpace, as well as Stir to Action, a worker co-operative. Discussing the power of social entrepreneurship and how she’s encouraging this in a recent ECA podcast, the role of a ‘coworking activist’ is suited to Stephanie’s dedication to the industry. 

Social entrepreneurship can shape the future in the long run. Looking to shift the power from the few to many with  the idea that there is not necessarily any hierarchy in an organization opens doors for individuals to thrive and ideas to grow. And, something that Stir to Action is passionate about is a New Economy program where people who are involved in different initiatives under this umbrella term, facilitate training and workshops. They tackle an array of topics like Community Finance and Decolonizing Economics to name a few.

Although COVID has forced them to go digital with their community sessions, Stephanie says this avenue has led them to speak to a diverse audience and reach out and engage new people that they previously might not have been able to reach. It’s not the same sense of connection, but that connection is made based upon the same ideals and built over time nonetheless.

Stephanie’s passion for  encouraging collaboration and the new economy led to a venture called Open Project Night. A space for local groups, volunteers, residents and curious minds to head into a coworking space on a Monday night, to encourage keen groups to stimulate local organizing. This gathering, now online, bridges the gap between free space for parties to meet and have a discussion, especially volunteering groups, or newly set up social enterprises that just don’t have the income to pay for hiring costs.

In one case people working in the local food distribution and growing industry came together to brainstorm how to improve their local food systems. It resulted in a location centrally positioned in Brixton for surplus food where different shops and supermarkets put any food that will go to waste, and the local community has access to it.

At the same time, people are working in many ways to figure scenarios that can generate employment to ensure the effect of  COVID doesn’t lead to an unemployment crisis. Stephanie is confident that there are new opportunities to be born from the crisis, but challenges such as technological and educational gaps need to be considered, with the people affected at the heart of the solutions.

Stir to Action will also be hosting an online festival from September 1st to 3rd, with some speakers and activities around ideas for the new economy.

Impassioned about change, and harnessing the power of collaboration that coworking spaces and all who frequent them can inspire in the new economy, wouldn’t it be awesome if more community organizers and hubs around the globe stand up and charge at the opportunities as Stephanie does?