The Gospel Of Coworking

Ashley Proctor
Creative Blueprint, COHIP & GCUC Canada

For International #Coworking Day, the Gospel according to Ashley Proctor, the High Priestess of Community Building:

A quick recap for those who think #coworking is ‘like WeWork’ or is about ‘sharing office space’ ❤️

We are not simply renting desks, providing coffee & WiFi. It’s not about the space itself. It’s about what happens when we work together.

Coworking is a model and a movement.

A genuine coworking community is built intentionally, and is curated and managed to encourage engagement, and to accelerate serendipity.
We are dedicated to serving our members while animating and cultivating the community itself. Above all else, we value collaboration over competition.

In a genuine coworking space:

We are breaking down barriers and building bridges between individuals and industries;

We are making entrepreneurship accessible;

We are inspiring and empowering our members;

We are sharing best practices and expanding our networks;

We are bringing people together and dismantling loneliness;

We are building and strengthening our communities;

We are protecting freelancer rights;

We are accelerating local economic development;

We are increasing productivity and the capacity of our member organizations;

We are ensuring the sustainability of social enterprises, independent workers and small businesses;

We are modelling reconciliation, diversity and inclusivity.

And collectively, we are shaping the future of work.”

Ashley Proctor
Creative Blueprint, COHIP & GCUC Canada
#CoworkingDay #InternationalCoworkingDay

Note: Join Ashley and the rest of the Coworking Tribe in Toronto at the Global Coworking Unconference Canada. It’s magical. Get Tickets Now!

Get Ready for Soularize Live!

Soularize - Event Banner with Dates

I’ve spent the past few weeks assisting the Soularize team with an upcoming “global learning party.” During the pandemic, many of us have explored how to use technology to create hybrid events that are accessible to all. For those of us in the community-building business, it became apparent pretty quickly that there was no returning to the Before Times when people were required to come face to face.

The question is: How to improve on the experience for all?

Soularize LIVE is a unique experiment in this regard. It’s a 20-year old gathering of folks from the “emerging” church movement. You will find many definitions for that term, but these are thought leaders who spent some time wrestling with the Big Questions and came away fully loving queerfolk and really doubting a literal Hell. Here in 2021, we find our Millennials breaking away from the evangelical megachurches of their youth and encountering a painful process termed “deconstruction.”

Spencer Burke is the founder of the event and one of those early leaders. His 2006 work, A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity, was influential for the massive population shift that became “Spiritual But Not Religious.” I have gotten to know him through his work of applying Lean Methodology to Spiritual Entrepreneurship. Now, Spencer is getting the gang back together for a time such as this.

“Now more than ever, it is a critical time for people to gather with real purpose. A time to bring people of different backgrounds together to discuss the important issues of the day in terms of Humane Spiritualty. We call these people visionaries and changemakers because they have seen this coming. And they are ready to meet the moment.”

Spencer burke

I hope that you will consider attending this event. A full pass is only twenty bucks! And the workshops are already available NOW. That’s why it’s a hybrid – designed for you to view the content at your own pace and then engage with the community in real time. It’s truly an experiment, so your feedback will be greatly appreciated as well.

Below, I’ve highlighted a few workshops focused on social entrepreneurship. It’s amazing to see churchfolk begin to view this as an innovative and authentic method for connecting with neighbors and serving the community!

I’m here for it.

🍏 Daryn

Lisa & Blair (1)-1

God’s Mixed Ecology: The Changing Spiritual Landscape
The church has put all its eggs in the inherited, attractional models, and it’s not working. Thankfully, there is more at play! In this session, we’ll take a look at how the spiritual landscape is changing, what it means for the inherited church, how leaders are impacted and what is needed to sustain life in this mixed ecology.

elan horizontal (1)

Rabbi Elan Babchuck walks us through the best practices of creating and delivering your start-up pitch. It’s powerful information for anyone interested in taking an idea off the drawing board and out to those interested in getting involved and supporting your project.

Power of Start-Ups (1)

“The world has changed. The faith landscape has changed. As the ground shifts beneath us, faith communities are trending toward small thinking just as the world needs us to bring our boldest and most visionary ideas to bear. Through the stories and lessons of some of the world’s most successful social innovators, we’ll explore mindsets and strategies for creating high-impact social change. We’ll also look at the unique assets faith communities bring to solving the world’s most challenging problems.”
Danielle Goldstone, innoFaith

Becca Stevens Horizontal (1)

Y’all know I’m a Thistle Farmer from way back! I think I quote Becca Stevens at least once every time I speak and I stop for lunch at Thistle Farms Cafe whenever I visit mom in Tennessee – both coming and going. It’s simply the best social enterprise in the history of everything ever. I said what I said.

Soularize 2021

Engage. Connect. Unleash.

The incomparable Spencer Burke is doing a thing! I have been a big fan of his work adapting Lean Methodology for faith-based initiatives. In fact, his Lean Faith Canvas has become Step One when we are launching new spaces.

Now, he’s bringing back an event from the early days of the “emerging church” movement. It’s had a 10-year break and it’s back as a pandemic-era hybrid. The lineup of workshops and speakers is stellar and you are able to participate three ways:

Network Pass: Access all content in our private Soularize community, online and in the mobile app. Participate starting NOW and through the LIVE 3-Day gathering. Cost: $19.95 per person.

Village Host: Broadcast Soularize LIVE gathering to your own location. We will provide remote training and support for your team. One Network Pass included. Cost: $99 per host.

Fullerton Pass: Attend in-person at the main event location in charming downtown Fullerton, CA. On-site experiences in accordance with CDC health guidelines TBA. Includes one Network Pass. Attendance is limited. Cost: $199 per person.

Partnerships for this event include some of our most innovative and relevant changemakers, including the Glean Network, Ashoka Fellows and InnoFaith.

(And I’m happy to be helping out with the marketing campaign.)
🍏 Daryn

“We are invited to explore the question, how might we reframe issues to inspire human dignity to all, through the pursuit and practice of empathy, equity, and inclusivity?

We don’t need to force discovery of the new or different. It’s the essence of why we do what we do. It’s the animating force that drives our curiosity and enables us to fearlessly embrace the unknown.

We can be found among artist activists, community change-agents, business entrepreneurs, church leaders, visionary educators and even in the most unexpected vocations. We believe a better world is possible.”

Spencer Burke

Coworking with Intention

Note: Community builders are always looking for ways to keep our focus on our purpose – for ourselves and our people. Having a shared focus, even for a brief moment, with zillions of other people is one way to build community. And it’s why I love Every Monday Matters.

As the weather begins to change, we realize that the calendar year is winding down. While we may be tempted to wait until the new year to revisit our goals, the fall is a beautiful time to consider our “harvest.”

How have our intentions aligned with our actions? And what was the yield?

When we are intentional, we get clear on the outcome we would like to make happen. When we are mindful and thoughtful about what we want to create, how we want to contribute, and the impact we want to have, we can choose to focus on what matters most.

Read Emerzian’s full post at Every Monday Matters.

Prioritize and Plan.

Priorities and plans allow us to determine benchmarks and milestones. We can evaluate and assess our progress, re-evaluate and adjust. But it’s not always easy – just when we think we have everything under control, a big unknown can throw everything off. However, even in these circumstances, our priorities and plans allow us to take into account what needs to get done and what can wait. Full post here.

Begin With The End.

When we begin with the end, we are also able to better identify the resources and support we need to get there, as well as manage our expectations along the way. So what “ends” do you have for your day, week, year, or life? And, how will you begin your intentional journey towards them? Full post here.

Know Your Purpose.

When you know and follow your purpose, everything seems to connect. You feel confident, trust your choices, and start each day with a sense of direction and intention. Have you ever stopped to reflect on the purpose for your life? We know this is a big question to ask, but we hope you have. You are here for a reason. You have unique gifts the world needs. Full post here.

Community Building Through Shared Focus

I’m a fan of Every Monday Matters because of their weekly inspiration. They provide ideas for simple acts of kindness and general better-world making every Monday. In the church world, clergy and teachers may use a common lectionary , a practice dating to early Christian congregations who took their cues from the worship practices of the synagogue to determine the readings for the service.

EMM came to my attention after one of the mass school shootings a few years ago. The message that “you matter” was a powerful response to the lost souls who got their hands on weapons and destroyed lives.

One of the mass school shootings. It’s horrifying that I can’t even remember which one.

I do know this: on a regular basis, we need to be brought back to why we do this work. I think it can be well summarized by reminding our people that they matter. We all need to KNOW, really KNOW, that we matter. Mondays are a great place to start.

Throughout the week, visit Big Table to post your ideas and get practical suggestions on how to use the theme to engage your community members.


Feeling like you don’t matter?

Life at the Table: Connect with Cooking Classes

This morning, I got an email from one of my favorite people: Sandra Lewis. Several years ago, when we were dreaming of transforming a big church kitchen into a commercial kitchen, Sandra was one of our first collaborators. When I learned that her business was called “Life at the Table,” I knew she had to be #InTheMix.

Sandra taught classes and beta tested the kitchen while we struggled to get it certified for commercial use. Her whole business was centered on what she called the most important question of the day: What’s for dinner?

Recently, she has pivoted to focus on corporate team building. It’s such a natural for her, as she had a corporate career before she decided to follow her dream and enroll at Le Cordon Bleu. Just look at these darling boxes she prepared for an event for ebay.

Since it looks like virtual events are going to be our go-to for gatherings for a little while longer, Sandra is highly recommended for a fun way to connect with your coworking members and their teams.

And, by the way, if you want to put that big ol’ church kitchen to work, let’s chat about it! Every Friday at Virtual Potluck Lunch.

Here is what she sent this morning:

It’s time to get cooking.
So you can do what’s really important: Converse. Connect. Create Community.

Take a peek inside our kitchen and learn why you should book a virtual culinary team building event with Life At The Table.

Need a reason to book a virtual culinary team building event? We’ve got three really good ones.

Even though Homer Simpson thinks you don’t win friends with salad, we do. Learn how to make a great one in this upcoming virtual cooking class; watch a fun TikTok demo of this virtual class here.

Register here and use coupon code SEPT15%OFF. This discount will apply to any class purchased between now and September 15.

And, hey, watermelons are still in the store. Pick a great watermelon with these tips and spend some juicy time around the table.

Until next time, spend as much time as you can doing what’s really important in life – sharing the table with family and friends.

Note: Just got off the phone with Sandra. Haven’t talked to her in forever and it was so good to hear her voice. We are having coffee soon! Have you picked up the phone and called an old friend lately? Highly recommended. #DismantleLoneliness

Pilgrimage: People + Place + Purpose

Newsletter | July 27, 2021

Note: Sadly, our pilgrimage has now been postponed for one year due to the Covid crisis. Please follow us at BigTable.Network for news updates.

For those of us who are placemakers and people gatherers, we know our spaces have a life of their own. It’s an energy that changes from day to day, reflecting the ever-changing group of people as they arrive and depart.

We create a framework around those comings and goings with our daily rituals of coffee brewing, intentional programming, beautiful furnishings and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. Hospitality is elevated to an art form and a relentless quest for excellence.

Our pilgrimage is designed to gather people who do that hard, thankless work for four days in a place that will inspire and rejuvenate.

But not just any place.

Like the great sites around the world, pilgrimages don’t happen just anywhere. The site is key to the experience. (There’s also usually a very long walk!) The places we will explore together tell their stories with no words. While we have tour guides, this is not a conference with panels of speakers. We will have a few experienced Listeners to moderate conversations and offer reflections.

Our primary venues, Crosstown Concourse and First Congo, are some of the finest examples of community engagement and historic adaptive reuse you are likely to ever see. It’s no accident that they are located within a short drive from each other. Learn more about our venues here – though they really defy written description. 

Of course, Memphis isn’t just any city. For history, diversity, culture and creativity, it has no peer. Also foodHoly smokes, is there food! The pilgrimage builds in plenty of opportunity for you to discover this extraordinary city and meet its people.

Then there’s the neighborhood – the historic Cooper-Young district that features shops, galleries, bars and cafes, plus:

  • A REAL book store and a REAL record store.
  • And a cat sanctuary.
  • And a restaurant located in Priscilla Presley’s old beauty salon. (I know, right?)

It’s a neighborhood that redefines “eclectic” and teaches real-time lessons in urban renewal from all perspectives.

On our Big Table Mighty Network, there is now a Group dedicated to connecting folks who are coming, and to those who want to learn more. Here’s your invitation to join the group.

See you there!

🍏  Daryn

“Pilgrimage starts with setting intention. This might be healing, marking a loss, asking forgiveness, exploring a life transition, or simply reconnecting with joy. It might even be simply the intention of adventure —creating space in which unexpected new thoughts, friendships, or experiences might emerge.”

casper ter KuileThe Power of Ritual

All-Inclusive* Ticket $495

Tickets include: all tours, local transportation, five full meals from neighborhood sources plus a big BBQ with live band, and more. Sponsored tickets may be available at reduced cost. Need a one-day ticket? Worried about covid? So are we. All tickets are now fully refundable except for processing fees.

Accommodations FAQ

The most affordable option is the beautiful and very clean Hostel Memphis, starting at just $35 per night. Otherwise, we suggest booking in the Cooper-Young neighborhood, or treat yourself to the gorgeous Central Station hotel, another project from the Crosstown Concourse team. Please check the cancellation policies! Find a roomie here. 

Meet Our Team

Ashley Proctor / Creative Blueprint Event Co-Producer
Daryn DeZengotita / Table Coworking Event Creator
Ken Crawford / Church21st Event Chaplain
Rachel Winstead / make*shift*muse Event Storyteller

Any Questions?

Every Friday, pull up a chair for our virtual Potluck Lunch. It’s a chance to ask me anything and connect with other community leaders from all over the world.  R.S.V.P. and please share.

Get Connected.

Join the network for how-to’s, who’s who and more news.

Know someone who needs to be with us in Memphis? Send them this newsletter!

Wineskins & Hyphens: How Jargon Kills Communication and Undermines Hospitality

Last week, I welcomed a small team of collaborators for a scouting expedition to Memphis, TN. Stay tuned for details of our fall pilgrimage – you are invited! Our venues are a church and a mixed-use development and our “pilgrims” will emerge from the intersection between those two worlds. It’s the place where I spend most of my time and I’ve gotten pretty comfortable there.

Among our team are a pastor and two people with no connection to organized religion. In fact, religion brings painful memories left behind in young adulthood, only to become inspirational leaders of influence in their own right, with life-giving and soul-nourishing careers.

Like any work sector, religion has jargon. In political rhetoric, we call them “dog whistles.” More than most, institutional religion has jargon and acronyms and, you know . . . parables*. In reality, the coworking movement has its share, too. We know whether you are “in” or “out” based on hyphen usage! Because I operate in two worlds, I resist using jargon because it is a barrier to understanding. On the other hand, it’s lazy shorthand to demonstrate my expertise.

During our time together in Memphis, I learned just how much I’ve been assimilated. I was slinging around terms and phrases that were deeply meaningful to me, the pastor and church leaders, but left my other guests confused and shut out. Fortunately, we made space to discuss it and learned more about each other’s stories. I’m grateful for that.

Back home, I asked my coworking marketing lab to workshop this document written for a specific group of clergy and church leadership. Again – confusion and disconnection. I made excuses: “it’s for a specific audience! It’s just one part of a larger document!”

But the reality is, I was being lazy and I was just fine with allowing the communication barrier to hold firm. I devalued people and I’m sorry. If I’m really going to claim the space and bridge the gap between two worlds, I must do better.

You are invited to call me out on it. And thanks.

*”Wineskins” is a reference to a Biblical parable about not putting new wine in old wineskins – a vessel for holding wine formed from an animal skin in ancient times. It needed to be maintained and never allowed to dry out completely because it would lose its shape and thus its usefulness. The useful metaphor that serves us today is that new ways of doing things will challenge the old containers, institutions and systems. See? It works in both worlds.

Building a new community – but not for everyone?


“I would love to chat with somebody about a collaborative workspace we are designing as a part of our church’s new community center.”

Me: 💥🎉🙌 Meeting scheduled!
google google scroll scroll scroll
[Our Team] Leadership – all white men, except children’s ministry
[Church of the Nazarene affiliation] Hmm. 

Me: “Hi, there! Out of respect for your time, I wanted to check in with you about your new space. Will your space be welcoming and affirming to all, including LGBTQ persons?I am unfamiliar with the policies of the Church of the Nazarene, so I don’t want to make assumptions. But I hope that yours will be a space of wonderful hospitality where the dignity of all is respected, women are honored as leaders and diversity is celebrated. Let me know!” Response: “Daryn, I am comfortable with that, but I’m not sure our congregation is there yet. If that is a deal breaker, is there anyone else you would recommend to us?” 
Me: 😥😖😳💁“It must be painful for your own values to be out of step with your congregation. I hope that you will have opportunities to show new ways of understanding. No, I wouldn’t have a recommendation for you. It would be inconsistent with my own values to provide resources for a space that will discriminate against folks like me.”

That’s it. That’s the post. 

Plano Coworking Weekly Check-In

December 29, 2020 @ 12:15 pm 1:15 pm CST

Log on with the Community Coworking lead team for a quick check-in and progress update. Shortly after the new year, we will be in “soft launch” mode and offering memberships for in-person and virtual coworking. If you would like to learn more . . . and especially if you would like to join the organizing team . . . log on to our weekly Zoom call and chat with us.

We need folks to support our lead team with:

  • Hospitality: Daily greeters who help members and guests navigate the campus
  • Event Planning & Production: Helping with all aspects of special events
  • Community Outreach: Connecting  with networks of businesses and non-profit organizations in the wider Plano community
  • Operations: Beta testing our systems – let’s break them ourselves before our guests
  • Marketing: Social media posts, website, photography
  • Coworking! If working from home just isn’t working for you anymore, we have plenty of room on campus for you to be safely distanced from others. (And we need to test our systems.)
  • More! If you have gifts and talents to share, we can probably put them to work!

Finally, if you just aren’t quite sure what this is all about, hop on the call. We would love to share how this innovative use of the campus will be Connecting  God & Grace to Self & Community in the new year.

Plano Community Coworking

View Organizer Website

Plano Community Coworking

3160 E Spring Creek Pkwy
Plano, TX 75074 United States
+ Google Map
(972) 423-4506
View Venue Website

What’s Community Animation in a Coworking Space?

Someone pinged me on LinkedIn the other day. It was a franchise owner of a large commercial real estate-based workspace company here in Dallas. He mentioned that he was working on converting an office building into a more flexible, functional coworking space.

I wrote back and said, “Well, hey! When it’s time to animate that space, I’m your gal.”

His response? “Animating a coworking space … I’m not familiar with this.”

“Animating” a Coworking Space?

What does animating a coworking or other community space look like?

Well, the LinkedIn exchange about this reminded me of the time I was asked by a consultant to meet with him at the Dallas Cowboys coworking space. This was pre-pandemic, so on the day of our appointment, I drove there for our meeting.

Right away, I ran into a little bit of a hurdle: I couldn’t figure out where to park.

Or how to get in.

All of it was very confusing. (Priya Parker would be appalled.)

But eventually I got my bearings and went in, and oh my wow, the space was just gorgeous. Absolutely beautiful. Fine finishings everywhere. A spectacular view.

There was a fancy coffee bar with dedicated barista, along with multiple staff members at a very large front reception desk.

The place was absolutely empty.

The consultant and I met for a little while, but the space where we sat had heavy metal music playing that was VERY LOUD. (So loud.) We had to move twice before landing in a spot that wasn’t right under a speaker with this banging music, and where we didn’t have to raise our voices to talk.

We’d been there for quite a while when I excused myself to go to the restroom. I walked past all the marble, all this beautiful glass and leather. And I walked into the bathroom, and sat down to take care of my business.

Lo and behold: NO toilet paper.

None on the wall within reach. None in a cabinet.

None. Anywhere.

So I managed and eventually got out of there. Then I found one of the many, many staffers that had been around, and let them know about the lack of toilet paper. (They were very nice, and said thanks for letting them know.)

When Your Space Goes to Waste

The thing I noticed while I explored this gorgeous, finely-furnished space: none of the staff ever approached us to offer water or a yummy drinks from the fun coffee bar in the space. Nothing like that.

When I was ready to go  no one in the reception area talked with me. I stood there for quite a while waiting for the elevator.

Three staffers were at their computers, right in front of me. I mean, not even six feet in front of me, staring into their computers, and not a single one of them acknowledged that I was hanging around, or that I was about to leave.

No “have a nice day,” or “here’s my business card, please let me know the next time you want to come in.

As beautiful as the place was, there was no life to it.

That’s what I mean when we’re talking about animating a space. It’s putting as much of your budget, time, and attention into the people who are present in your space, as you do the furniture.

It’s More Than the Furniture

Community animation means noticing the most minute, mundane details that make people feel comfortable in a space. Especially the toilet paper.

Animating a coworking space is even more than greeting people at the door, although I recommend having at least one dedicated greeter to create an inviting experience.

Community animation is also about the events in a coworking space. It’s the intentionality around your programming, so that members can participate more fully. It’s creating opportunities for your coworkers: opportunities that accelerate serendipity and connection between community members.

Community animation helps to ensure we do our part, daily, in dismantling the loneliness that plagues so many people. Community animation is what elevates an executive office suite with sexy couches into a truly successful coworking space.

Because people are always more important than furniture.

Learn more about community animation and find resources over at Big Table.