The BART Strike — An Opportunity to Test Co-Working in San Leandro
San Leandrans may have been surprised — pleasantly — at the announcement last Friday that the San Leandro Library would open its doors and offer free internet to commuters stranded by the BART strike, anticipated at that time to begin with the Monday morning commute. The announcement caught fire in the local media, picked up by editions of the Bay Area News Group, ABC/Channel 7 and CBS/Channel 5 .
“Another system-wide stoppage in BART service would substantially disrupt the commute of many San Leandrans. If you lack internet access or can’t work at home but have a laptop or tablet computer and are able to telecommute, our librarians will assist you in finding a space to work,” stated Mayor Cassidy in the City’s press release.
The ABC story also referenced other “co-working” spaces around the Bay Area that offered alternatives to stranded commuters needing access to workspaces and the internet. One of the spaces referenced in the story was Berkeley’s new NextSpace, the 7th NextSpace to open since Jeremy Neuner, Ryan Coonerty, and Caleb Baskin founded NextSpace in June 2008 and officially opened the doors of their flagship location in downtown Santa Cruz, CA, in October 2008.
What the press didn’t pick up was the connection between these two spaces — literally. Both the main San Leandro Library, located at 300 Estudillo, and NextSpace, located at 2081 Center Street, Berkeley, are connected through the Lit San Leandro fiber optic network! Created through the City’s public/private partnership with resident Dr. Patrick Kennedy and CEO and Founder of OSIsoft, Lit San Leandro was launched in 2011, connected its first business in 2012, and has connected over 1.3 million square feet of San Leandro commercial real estate to the network since then.
San Leandro’s fiber optic network is also expanding to other cities — more about that in future blogs. Governor Jerry Brown intervened and the BART strike was averted for the time being. If commuters had been left stranded by the BART strike — and the possibility still exists of a future BART strike — and they chose to work at either the San Leandro Library or Berkeley’s NextSpace, they would have enjoyed a lightning fast internet experience!
What is Co-Working?
From Wikipedia: “Coworking is a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization. Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation. Coworking is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with like-minded talented people in the same space.“
Those of you who read my blog last week on our visit to TechSpace and HUB Bay Area in San Francisco got a glimpse into the world of co-working spaces in San Francisco. There are literally dozens of co-working spaces in San Francisco, but relatively few here in the East Bay. Locally some of these include Techliminal, HUB Berkeley, HUB Oakland, Skydeck (also soon to be connected to the Lit San Leandro network), Ace Monster Toys (hacker/maker space), Port Space, and a San Leandro startup by Judi Clark, San Leandro Co-Working.
The development of co-working spaces in San Leandro, both traditional and “maker” spaces, is critical to our City’s development as a center for innovation. Our next Meet the CIO event, scheduled for September 19th at the San Leandro Public Library, 5 p.m., will feature a panel of co-working founders and experts. Please put this date on your calendar, and in a future posting I’ll provide an Eventbrite link to register for the event. I hope you will join us to learn more about our efforts to expand co-working opportunities to San Leandro!