I’ve had some folks ask me how I got involved in Cowork Niagara, what we’re all about and why I’m so passionate about being part of Niagara’s independent workforce. (Originally, this entry was also supposed to cover social enterprise but that deserves its own story!)
To answer those questions, I’m taking you back to the beginning. Just a few short years ago, I met some people who have since changed my life, taught me that independence and community mix, and showed me how to learn by doing. That’s what it took to convince me freelancing was a career path with potential I couldn’t have imagined. What will it take to convince you?
Entrepreneurship, I thought, wasn’t in my blood. Any kind of leadership, in anything, even less so. In 2012, I was at a professional and personal crossroads. After becoming one of many casualties of the never-ending decimation of our local media industry in 2008, I drifted between contract positions, a short stint at a full-time job and freelance reporting. So many of my former colleagues in the journalism industry either left Niagara in search of new opportunities or secured work in other fields after being cut in subsequent rounds of layoffs. I stubbornly held out hope but admittedly, I was directionless and disillusioned. I wanted to stay in Niagara.
I knew that whatever I did, I needed to keep writing, for and about my community. I needed to contribute to my community by telling stories. I wanted to work with people, not just next to them, tapping away at a keyboard for the next 40 years.
But I also longed for security, in the form of a job, a steady paycheque and an “average” life. I thought this meant that I wanted to be a cog.
As we worked independently together, we discovered something amazing – that even though we all worked on different projects for different clients in different parts of the country, when we worked together we were stronger, more resilient and more agile. We were able to overcome our challenges more easily and more effectively.
Reaching milestones like announcing that we signed a lease for 108 St. Paul, celebrating our opening, hosting two AGMs, becoming a hub for podcasting in Niagara and partnering with Startup Canada felt amazing. We still have a lot of work to do, and I can’t wait to see what’s next as we look to keep raising awareness of and advocating for Niagara’s independent workforce and expand across the region into municipalities that can support a space.
Next week, I’ll share a few lessons I’ve learned as a board member at Cowork.