An Interview with Katie Hurst

Katie Hurst has relied heavily on the Coworking Wiki since her first day as an operations director for the Gangplank Chandler workspace in Arizona. Now, as her day job duties have evolved into running a network of Gangplank spaces and staff, Katie looks at her role with the Wiki Project as an opportunity to learn more about coordinating efforts on an international scale, as well as a chance to give back to the resource that started her off.

How did you first hear about coworking?
I didn’t really know what coworking was until after I was hired by Gangplank. All I knew was that Gangplank was an awesome, collaborative environment where I could hang out. It wasn’t until others started mentioning Gangplank and coworking in the same sentence that I started looking into what coworking was.

How did you get involved with it?
I had heard about workshops offered at Gangplank on various topics every Wednesday at noon, so I stopped by for the LinkedIn one when I was a freelancer and got hooked. I asked if I could volunteer, and three months later I was hired as a Director for Gangplank Chandler, our only location at the time.

Gangplank seems like a different sort of coworking space. What makes it unique?
Two characteristics make Gangplank a unique space. One, our nonprofit model. We focus on contributions through social capital – Gangplankers giving time and knowledge keep the organization growing. Second, our focus on bringing people back to their creative core. Our spaces welcome more than just small business and entrepreneurs. We challenge everyone that walks through our doors to learn a new skill and re-engage with their desires to build, design, and create.

What do you think of the current Coworking Wiki?
The Coworking Wiki is essential to my work as a workspace director. It’s a fantastic resource for connecting with other spaces, as well as looking for ideas when I’m stuck.

What sort of ideas?
I’ve gone to the wiki for tools on how to better manage my space, as well as looked over all the new space owner training docs. You don’t know what you don’t know, so I go to the wiki to find topics or suggestions I may not have thought of before.

What would you most like to see changed about it?
Perhaps because I have more patience than others, I don’t mind digging through it to see what I can find. However, I think for the coworking movement to succeed, we need to get the right information in the hands of wiki users as quickly as possible. Doing some research on who the audiences are and how best to get information to them would really help the wiki grow.

The team upgrading the wiki is very spread out. How are you [feel free to substitute "will you"] bringing them together?
I think the diverse background of the team, as well as our connections with communities all over the world, will ensure the wiki represents the majority of our stakeholders. Additionally, our shared passion and outgoing personalities have already created great camaraderie. As Team Coordinator, I intend to bring the team together through shared goals, consistent communication, and transparency of progress. No team will act in a bubble, just as no one operates alone in the coworking movement.

What inspired you to get involved with the project?
As I mentioned in my bio, my day job keeps me busy working to connect Gangplank communities all over the U.S. The wiki project gives me an opportunity to challenge my coordination skills in a way I can bring back to Gangplank.

Additionally, I want the Coworking Wiki to succeed and stay sustainable. The wiki is the collective knowledge of this incredible movement. Many of us “in the business” have connected through the wiki and have grown our spaces and programming as a result. It’s a resource that deserves love.

Is there a part that you’re most looking forward to? What is it?
I can’t wait to start brainstorming on ways to better use the wiki to connect spaces to one another. Can you imagine coworkers in Berlin sharing their stories with a new startup in Brazil? Or workshops being offered transnationally? The possibilities are endless!

Is there a part that you’re dreading?
I’m always most nervous when the conversation turns technical. My greatest challenge will be understanding emails from Jacob on changes to PBWorks!

Do you remember the last time you laughed uncontrollably? What triggered it?
My favorite thing in the world is our local improv space, The Torch Theatre. They recently performed in the Phoenix Improv Festival, which was incredible. I laughed for something like 2 hours straight. My face hurt for a day after.

Posted in Interviews

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