Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hub SoMa Launch Party – Thurs. May 27

New downtown SF coworking space a major activist resource

Would you like to be part of an exciting community that is committed to social change? Are you seeking support and resources for a project you're involved in, or an organization you'd like to form? Are you an activist looking to connect with entrepreneurs, artists, fundraisers, community leaders, and other professionals working on different progressive issues in a friendly office environment? 

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, then the Hub is just what you need.

The Hub is a creative coworking space with 25 branches on five continents where
thousands of members connect and collaborate around the work they are doing in various
“change sectors,” from environmental sustainability and community development to
human rights and international investment. It is a place where people from diverse backgrounds meet to help each other reach their world-changing goals, whether it's starting a socially-conscious business or optimizing their non-profit's vast potential. As an actual workspace, the Hub offers all the amenities of an office—from “hot desks” and conference rooms to Wi-Fi and printers—as well as support services provided by mentors and consultants.

While a Berkeley Hub has been operating out of the David Brower Center for some time, a new 8,600-square-foot San Francisco location recently opened in the SF Chronicle Building at Mission and 5th Streets (one block from the Powell BART station) that's three times larger than the Berkeley Hub. They are holding their Launch Party on Thursday, May 27 from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m., and tickets are $10 each. This grand opening event gives animal activists a great opportunity to learn about the Hub, meet some of their members, and start taking advantage of this unique resource.

How can the Hub help animal activists? I recently spoke with Berkeley Hub “Host and longtime vegan Meredith Walters to find out.

AR: What is your job as a Hub “Host”?

MW: Basically, getting to know members personally and understanding what they're working on so I can connect them with people who can help. This includes everything from making individual introductions to encouraging people to attend our group events.

What are some of the Hub's specific support resources, and how can they benefit animal activists in particular?

We offer a range of programs that enable people from different social change sectors to share their skills, ideas and resources. For example, in the evenings and on weekends, we have panel discussions and speaker presentations on topics like branding, marketing, fundraising, and social networking, as well as other events such as reading groups and film screenings. All of these activities offer people opportunities to learn from and network with one another. I would encourage animal activists who become members to both attend events and organize their own, as well.

Our Peer-to-Peer mentoring groups are a great way for people who are starting projects to bounce ideas off each other, share resources and hold one other accountable to their own goals. We currently have groups in food justice, environmental sustainability and international development—all of which are directly related to animal issues. A lot of innovation happens when activists dialogue with people who have different perspectives, so working within a group allows animal advocates to both learn from and influence non-vegetarians, as well as test their messaging out on them to see whether it resonates.  

Hub members also have access to some very practical resources, like legal and marketing consults for social enterprise development, which is useful to anyone starting or managing a vegan business or animal protection non-profit. They can also use our private conference rooms for meetings, and rent our event space for larger groups.

But the most important resource the Hub offers its members is a shared workspace where they can meet and collaborate with each other. It's the hot-desking aspect that really gets people to connect with others, and where the most profound changes take place. Everyone at the Hub is doing something to find solutions to the world's problems, and that is at its core inspiring. Working for social change is challenging, so we are here to help people stay strong and avoid burnout by transforming their deepest values into action.

How many Hub members are vegans, vegetarians, or animal activists?

Right now, there are numerous vegan and vegetarian members who care about animal issues, but we don't have a large animal rights contingent, so I would love to see more animal activists get involved. In my experience, Hub members are more respectful toward vegans than most people, partly because they're generally open-minded, but also because they're already somewhat aware of the reasons people are vegan. And while not everyone is going to be vegan, Hub members all have their own passions and thrive on hearing about other people's passions, so there are many opportunities for mutual education.

It seems like many Hub Events involve eating. Are vegan options offered?

Food is a central gathering point at the Hub, and when we have potlucks, Brown Bag lunch discussions, Sexy Salad (every Wednesday, when everyone brings in a salad ingredient), and other shared meals, a lot of it is vegan. When I bring food, I always label it as vegan with a “help yourself” sign next to it. As a result, my diet comes up often in conversation, giving me the chance to tell people about the reasons I don't eat animals. And a few people have told me they're going vegan because of conversations we've had: they get excited about it and want to connect with a vegan who can guide them through the transition.

To learn more about the SoMa Hub:

- Attend the Launch Celebration on Thursday, May 27 from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

- Come to an open house between 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., Monday through Friday

- Arrange a tour during business hours (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday) by emailing or calling 415-624-5881

- Check out the Bay Area Hub events calendar 

- Join the Hub (membership starts at just $25 a month)


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