Category Archives: Change

Live on PEI? Wondering about how to find your work future? Join the QSC

This is the new world of work – where you have the social life you need but none of the office bullshit

Worried about your future? Why Joining a Co Working Site is a Good Idea

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Look at the growth of Co Working sites. What is going on?

What is going on is that we are seeing the emergence of the new face to face workplace that fits the life of the freelancer – who is at the core of the real new economy.  (All images from the 2nd global survey of co working – PDF here)

You can have a job now, be a student, be on the verge of retirement, be just layed off – here is where you can find the network you need and learn how to be a human again.

I think that the Co Working Space is the “Factory” of our time. This is the social space that the Freelancer needs to combat the separation and loneliness of the solo role. This is the social space that opens us each up to the broader network. It is also the space where we learn to be a proper human again – where how we behave matters.

Here is a map that will show you the closest one to you.

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What they offer is a real Tribe. While the income has improved – look at all the other parts of life that are better!

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They were mainly very urban. But look at how they are growing now in rural areas.

The Queen St Commons was started in 2005 – we were one of the first 5 in the world in a city of less than 35,000. We were an oddity but now are more of the new norm as rural co work grows. As more of us leave the city, the Rural Co Working spot becomes more important. Rural sites also have to have an economic model that fits – much more a co-op than a top down space rental.

Lots to learn from each other as new micro models emerge. So lots of good reasons for Co Working spaces to get connected now to each other.

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The next big move I think will be connecting all the co working sites into a global network. So a member of a site in a rural village can get to London or New York or Mumbai! And then think of the power of the connections?

My new book You Don’t Need a Job - explores more of the value of co working for anyone who wants to put a toe into the real new economy.

Why I am backing Inspired Farmers – #localresiliency #localfood

I am backing the Inspired Farmers Project - they will start the first demo for Urban Farming in Charlottetown next week.

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The project is lead by Karen Murchison of the Queen St Commons and her partners at the Murphy Community Centre (Where most of the “Farm” will be) The City of Charlottetown, Cycle PEI, Holland College and the Food bank and Soup Kitchen in Charlottetown

It’s a tiny project but has huge potential to make PEI more sustainable. If you want to make a difference that please help. Your help can be a few dollars or a donation of stuff.

You can donate $ here:

Or you can  help with stuff like this:

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Here is how I see this project and why I am backing them and why if you care for the future of PEI, you might help too.

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It starts often like this – with a community using a barren public space to grow food as a demo. The idea is to inspire us to think differently about the urban landscape. No longer only grass, concrete and isolated trees. When we see this in downtown Charlottetown, we can imagine how different our street could be.

This is not simply a new esthetic either. In World War II 40% of the food eaten was grown by people at home – most in cities.

At the heart of this is the food and the health crisis. By making urban farming – which uses very small spaces and high intensity – important we all learn how to grow our own food. This Saturday there is a workshop on this. We meet our neigbours in a new way. We are more active and we have better nutrition.

We start to escape the trap of being dependent on Factory Food.  The Food Bank becomes a hub of a network of people who help each other grow food and cook food.  Growing food and making meals return as skills that most of us have lost.

This is big – isn’t it? And you only have to make a small step to help.

We start this weekend!

Why a Networked Artisanal Economy will work for PEI

This is a great future for PEI and is in our reach. This is why the QSC is backing StartUp Canada and their visit in the week of May 7th.

If you like this vision – join us at the QSC on May 8th – details here

One of the most challenging parts of PEI’s situation is that we don’t have enough young to sustain our society in the next 25 years. This problem is shared by all the Provinces in Atlantic Canada.

For a generation, governments have tried to change this by doing their best to attract large employers to set up operations here. This has not worked and, as the industrial model further concentrates, has even less chance of working now.

So we have a government sector that is too large, on PEI 65% of GDP, a large group of people living off the social system, a few people with jobs and a lot of ultra small businesses. The only sector here that has any chance of keeping our young home and of attracting young from away is the very small.

In the past the very small was only for hobbyists. The web now makes it possible for once were hobbyists to access a global market. Young women in villages in England sell knitting patterns to a market in the millions. Authors self publish books on Amazon.

For what is also new is that there is a large and growing market for products and services that people can trust – defined as those made by persons and not faceless organizations. Grass Fed Beef versus Feedlot Beef. Real soap versus chemicals. Real IT support versus and Indian Call Centre. Real Toys versus dangerous ones.

So who would come and do this? Are not all the young going to the cities? Yes many still leave the boonies for the city. But many of the city folk are now leaving the city. Those that are leaving the city are among the most aware and thoughtful.

They cannot make a good living in the big city anymore.

For they too cannot get the paid work that will enable them to pay the high prices for housing. Many also don’t trust the faceless organization as an employer anymore either. They don’t trust them to keep their word as an employer or keep the quality of what they do.

They see no future for themselves as employees of the big or as citizens of the big.

These people want to make a difference. They want to raise their kids in a real world. They don’t care about the flash and the glitz. They want to do real things and so be real and live in a real place.

They want to find a REAL HOME.

PEI is a great place to do this from.

There is a huge spread in housing costs in favour of a move here to support you. A 700 square foot condo is priced at about $350,000. You can buy a mansion for that here or say 50 acres and a home for half of that in Eastern PEI. You can find the home at a price that will not be a millstone. A low housing cost is a prerequisite for a life of meaning.

Then we offer community. Not a thousand friends on Facebook – but a real human community. There are networks of Foodies, Film makers, Artists, Musicians, Programmers, Marketers, Teachers, Writers – You will find support right away.

We offer a REAL BRAND – for with all our faults – this is still a REAL community and we are SMALL and will never be that corporate.

And so what do these people do for us? 10,000 families that have these values moving here in the next 10 years would change everything for the better. We would restore the vitality of our society. We woud build the economy that can sustain us in difficult times.

We would have a future. So I ask – Get Behind this – I know of no other way.

 

Why I think Networked Artisanal StartUps are so important to PEI

We on PEI have to have thousands of new young immigrants living here in the next 10 years. So what will pull them here?

There are few jobs. 65% of GDP is government and even that is shrinking. They will only come here if there is a vibrant StartUp economy that is based on Entrepreneurs.

So what do those terms StartUp and Entrepreneur mean for PEI?

When I heard the word “entrepreneur” or “startup”, I used to think of Hi Tech Pioneers. But this never made sense for PEI. For if you want to do that, it is best if you are connected to the Tech Village in the Valley.  We are not close enough to where the real action is in Tech for a Facebook to emerge here.

I also used to think that every Entrepreneur worth her salt would want to grow the business to be very large. Then I thought of who has done this in Atlantic Canada. Sobeys, McCains and Irving. Not exactly a huge field and so not a useful ambition. We are not close enough to the financial centre. And if you make something we are too far away from the markets.

But all of our development is based on these assumptions. So what then will work?

An immigration/development strategy based on supporting the small artisan networking their way to dominance locally and then globally.

Sounds mad? Well here are the underpinning trends that will make this work – for it is working now on a small scale.

  • A New Market Based on Trust that can only be satisfied by the small in a network. More and more people do not trust the products and services of the Big. What is in my food? What is in my shampoo? What is in my drug? Why does my washing machine fail after 2 years? Why can I never get service? What is on my toy … The response to this is a movement towards what can be trusted. Meat raised in small herds where animals live the life they were designed to live by people we know and meet in the street. Soap made by people we know who use real ingredients in small batches. Tech service people who we know. Toys made in a person’s home. Clothes made by someone you know.
  • The Network Provides Scale and Ease of Access These artisans have always existed and have eked out a marginal living. But the new web based network is changing the game. Now we can buy direct and it is easy. Many pasture meat producers in a network = a lot of meat. Many small soap makers in a network = a lot of soap. Small and artisan no longer condemns you to the sidelines.
  • This model has access to the Network Effect and so offers better margins and financing than the traditional. As we have seen for Raymond Loo, Patrick Ledwell and Tim Chaisson, now the community of your customers will finance you. CSA is becoming how the new artisanal farmer gets her working capital. Community Equity, as with Justus Coffee, is how larger sums can be raised from your customers! Customers who now work for you. Customers who market for you and who sell for you.  The network effect also works at the scale of the node. Jen and Derek plant a wide range of plants and sell a basket, so if the tomatoes fail, as they did last year, they are OK. On a pasture farm, the cows help the pigs who help the chickens and vice versa.

This market for Trust is small in total but huge for PEI. It can only be accessed by the small. The large corporates will be shut out of it. It is growing as people wake up and see the risks that they take in buying mass market goods and services. These customers want their suppliers to succeed and will support them in all sorts of ways. It’s a common movement.

Talented people are also waking up to the fact that they cannot trust their future to a job in the old system and in the big cities. We are seeing a trickle now of talented people leaving the old life and coming to Atlantic Canada where they can make a living and where the key cost of a home is in reach.

Just as many Atlantic Canadians go west in search of a well paying job, life is very precarious in the big cities now. A one bedroom condo is about $350,000 in Toronto and more in Vancouver. The young are underemployed and locked out. Or if a couple both have jobs and a home, the loss of one job renders them homeless. The Toronto couple will not come here to get a well paying job, they want to come here and make a decent living. They want to make things themselves and not work for wages.

They want to make things and make a living doing something that is truly them. This is what the new networked artisanal economy offers both sides. This is why customers invest in their suppliers. All want meaning and to be part of getting independence from the corporate grip.

These are people who will set up deep roots here on PEI and like the Back to the Landers make a contribution. They are not here to get a passport but to have  a life and to make a living.

So how to support this?

Stop the vain focus on the big - they will never come and they will never grow here. They never have so why think they will now. But a focus on big misses the real opportunity to network the small into a big network.

Stop the vain focus on Jobs. A smart new company will not employ a lot of people full time. It may never offer a “Job” but it will offer work.  Jobs are not the thing – paid work is the thing. Only a fool will fix their overhead. Most organizations will be family based. If they want marketing, they will reach into the network and find a trusted supplier. If they want book keeping, they will do the same.

Stop the focus on Hi Tech. The real new artisans use a lot of high tech, but they use it to make things not as an end in themselves. The film makers at the Film Factory use it to make big films. The Great Canadian Soap Company use it to sell their products.

Instead help support the networks - support groups that get together – help them make it easy for people to buy local food and anything. Make it easy for people from away to buy artisanal good and services from us.

Instead help families who want to do this come here. Reach out to them.

In the Week of May 7, my pals from Start Up Canada will be here to help us get behind this and to help connect us to the Canadian and the Global Network. At the Queen St Commons on May 7 we will have a get together to talk about how all the artisanal sectors can help each other.

Join Us Please May 8 6pm Queen St Commons 224 Queen – $10 to cover food and drinks costs.

Our ambition to help PEI become as self sufficient and resilient as it was in 1900. Where 80% of what we need is supplied locally.

Worried about losing your Job? Join the QSC – Outplacement 2.0

Do you work for the Feds or the CBC? Will you be losing your job? Think about joining the QSC as the best way to find out how best to work for yourself and the best way to start in a supportive network.

I am sure that the Feds and the CBC will offer you outplacement services. They will help you craft a resume. They will help you find a focus for your skills etc. All of the support you will be given will be in the context of a job. But as you know – there are few jobs out there. There will be fewer in the future.

I don’t think that this traditional outplacement will help much.  For it has the wrong context – there are few if any jobs to get.

But there is a a great new economy emerging that is all based on you making a living with real skills you not on your own but in a network. So a network of filmakers on PEI. (The Film Factory). Networks of Artisans. Networks of small farmers. Networks of Soap Makers. Networks of Marketers and so on.

The key to your future will be in finding what you love the most and what you do the best. AND to do this inside the support of a network. It will be the network that makes this work.

You cannot learn this on a course or from a book. You have to learn it by living it. Sitting at home with your computer or loom is a hard and lonely way to start.

Joining a Co Working Site is your best Outplacement. Here you live the new life for real. You can do this now while still employed too. Here is more

If you life on PEI then the Queen Street Commons is your Co Working Site. At the QSC on PEI  you will be surrounded by people that live the life of a freelancer. They can teach you better than any book or course. The QSC itself is a network of support. Members are diverse and there is hardly a sector of work and life that a member does not know a lot about. So you can use their network to explore as well.

Learning how to be this new you will prepare you for the world that is rapidly emerging.

Here is a link to a bit more on the trend. And in the meantime – please contact us.

According to a new study from MBO Partners, a company offering services to independent consultants, by 2013, the number of independent workers in America is expected to grow from 16 million to more than 20 million. By 2020, that figure could climb to include more than half of U.S. workers, leading to a new independent majority comprised of freelancers, consultants and other independent workers.

Blame the economic turmoil or a change in values, but more people are demanding greater self-reliance, control and satisfaction in their professional lives. For example, 75 percent of independents surveyed by MBO Partners stated that doing something they love was more important than making money while 74 percent stated that they wanted a job where they know they were making a difference.

MBO CEO Gene Zaino highlighted results from the national study last week at theGigaOM Net:Work conference in San Francisco. In an accompanying article, he writes optimistically about the promise of a pioneering, independent workforce but warns that there are obstacles standing in the way, including a surge in government regulations and corporate complexity in engaging independent talent.

“If we do not address the obstacles and complexity around the free and productive use of independent talent, companies — as well as these talented experts — may choose the troubling path of leaving this great country and going elsewhere,” warns Zaino.

Other key findings from the study:

  • The independent workforce spans gender and generations and is currently 16 million strong in the United States
  • Nearly 60 percent of independent workers stated that they are highly satisfied with their work situation versus half of employees who are unhappy
  • More than half of independent workers (55 percent) say it was their proactive choice to become an independent worker

From Viagra to Kombucha – the rise of the artisanal economy

The artisanal economy rises from the ashes of the old – I like this idea of a Culinary Incubator – Don’t you?

Three well-known tenants have already signed leases on production space.

Three well-known tenants have already signed leases on production space.Photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Good-bye, Viagra; hello, kombucha: The old Pfizer plant on Flushing Avenue will soon become a booming culinary production facility. In fact, Grub Street has learned that Kombucha BrooklynBrooklyn Soda Works, and Steve’s Ice Cream have already signed the leases and taken up shop.

The eight-story, 660,000-square-foot Williamsburg plant was originally eighty-sixed in 2008. Acumen Capital Partners — a real estate investment firm whose other projects includes the Brooklyn Grange — took the property over last year. The building’s unique (FDA-approved) facilities are ideal for food production. For example, KBBK will be able to brew tea and store live cultures for its kombucha at a specific, controlled range of temperatures.

The plan has at least one well-known supporter, Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz. His office e-mailed the following statement to us:

Losing Pfizer was a big blow to Brooklyn but I was determined to make sure that this building continued to provide high quality jobs to Brooklynites. I want to commend Acumen Partners for their commitment and creativity and for bringing in great companies like Kombucha Brooklyn, Brooklyn Soda Works and others. Like Pfizer, these companies are starting small, but one day they may be as big or even bigger than Pfizer and they will never turn their back on their place of birth, Brooklyn, U.S.A.

Between this and the just-announced 3rd Ward culinary incubator, Brooklyn’s powers-that-be are doing quite a bit to support the borough’s thriving food scene.

The Maker Economy – Where we all make what we need at Home – Including Energy

The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek οἰκονομία (oikonomia, “management of a household, administration”) from οἶκος(oikos, “house”) + νόμος (nomos, “custom” or “law”), hence “rules of the house(hold)”.

The “Maker Economy” tales us back to this perspective – not only will we make things that we need at home but also we will make our energy.

It’s only a matter of time when much of our demand for electricity will be met locally and even at home – an entirely different approach to the high capital and centralized system we think is normal now.

Sites like this can help us now.

 

A Vision for a “Maker Economy” on PEI

I am part of a new national network called StartUp Canada that will launch in March. The objective if to create a powerful supportive national network that will help shift us from a bureaucratic to an entrepreneural culture.

I am the PEI blogger for this. I was asked to do a video about why I am involved and how I see things on PEI. Here it is.

3D Printing is here on PEI and Your Kid can learn about it from Tom

20 years ago I spent $2,000 on Tandy Computer for my son James. It was a lot of money then. It’s a lot now! But it was the best thing I ever did for him. Aged 11 then James dived in and mastered what was going on. His life was transformed.

Those who are “naturals” in the use of computers now are in a favoured place in our economy.

This process is repeating itself with 3D Printers. Here is Tom Haan and Mauren Kerr who are working in our schools now to help your kids. I hope that we can get behind them and this so that most kids on PEI can learn how to use this exciting technology – where we can make things the make way that we can design 2D today.

So here is Tom and Mo – see how excited the kids are!!!!