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Tuesday Dec 15: Indy Hall’s first Virtual “Town Hall”

7 minute read
by Alex Hillman

Our first Town Hall you can join from Anywhere!

Mark your calendar now:

  • When:
    • Tuesday, December 15th
    • 6:30–7:30pm (Please try to arrive, or join at the link below, at 6pm so we can start on time)
  • Where:
  • What:
    • An all-hands conversation about the past, present, and future of Indy Hall
    • Read on below for more details and context

RSVP to join remotely or in person:

What makes Indy Hall special?

First and foremost, each and every one of our members make Indy Hall special. Indy Hall wouldn’t be much of anything without them. They’re smart, generous, and kind.

As coworking spaces around the world come online (I literally got an email from a woman in Moldova, this morning), more and more look to Indy Hall as a source of inspiration. Know it or not, that means our members are inspiring people around the world to be better versions of themselves, simply by doing what they do.

This is just as true if you’ve been a member for a week, or a member since the beginning. I’m not saying this to flatter – but to remind that PEOPLE are what makes this community worth being a part of, and worthy of aspiration.

The other thing that I think makes Indy Hall a special kind of organization is that even (and especially) as we grow, we’re always looking for new ways to experiment and reinvent old processes and habits to keep our core values of community, openness, accessibility, sustainability, and collaboration in play. We don’t need to wait for something to be broken in order to look for ways to make it better. “Betterness” is a continuum, a constant, in this community.

We called our first “Town Hall” gathering to share the potential of outgrowing our original coworking space and moving down the street into what is now the 2nd floor. We invited all members to be a part of that conversation, no matter how often they were physically working at a desk. We invited friends and supporters of the community as well, wanting to make the conversation as public as possible.

And it worked so well that we made it a tradition. For every year since 2009, 3–4 times a year we’ve brought the community together to share updates and progress reports on the community, invite members to take the floor and share their own updates, and to reflect on our trajectory as we think about what’s coming up next. Earlier this year, we did a pair of mini-town-hall events specifically focused on the future of our building (part 1, part 2).

Town Hall is a crucial event, valuable in many ways, not the least of which is giving the entire community a platform to be a part of the conversations that move us forward together.

In the past, I’ve been hesitant to live-stream Town Halls because of technical overhead and potential for things to break. But I’m realizing that in reality, that decision simply punished the majority no matter what date or time or location we chose.

Which is just silly when I think about it that way.

So I want to try something new – and it’s an experiment.

But this experiment need you.

It’s SO much better when we’re actively taking a little bit of time to stop and think about what we’ve accomplished recently and where we’re headed.

I want to get back to having Town Hall more often.

I want to make Town Hall easier to participate in, wherever you are.

So with those two goals in mind, we’re going to host our first “Virtual Town Hall” using a tool called Crowdcast. It’ll allow us to stream the Town Hall live and for anyone who is remote to participate via the chat room, which we’ll project for the people who are attending live.

For this Town Hall, Adam and Sam have created the itinerary, which includes:

  • Things we loved about the last year, and want to do more of (as well a round of special thanks to the people who made great things happen)
  • Preparing for the new year – it’s gonna be a big one!
  • A digest of next steps on the new home for Indy Hall

Then we need from you now is to “show up” in one of two ways:

  1. Go to this link at 6pm on Tuesday December 15th:
Use the time between 6 and 6:30pm to connect and make sure the stream works for you. We’ll start the discussion promptly at 6:30.
  1. Come to the classroom at Indy Hall to participate in person
No Google login required

RSVP here and we’ll send you a reminder the day of the event:

Can we set a goal of breaking 100 members in attendance?

Typically, we get ~50-75 members to a Town Hall – which isn’t bad, but I also know we can do better and think this new format can help.

We’ve grown to over 300 active members. So we should be able to get 100 people to the Virtual Town Hall, right? That includes the online stream + in person attendance.

If you’ve never been to a Town Hall, or even if if it’s been a while, please consider blocking off an hour next Tuesday evening to attend.

As a bonus challenge, please talk to other members to make sure they know about it and see if they are joining in as well. The #1 reason people don’t attend is because they don’t know about it, and the best way to solve this problem is by everyone pitching in just a little bit and making sure others know about it.

RSVP here and we’ll send you a reminder the day of the event:

“I loved Town Hall because it gave me an excuse to see other members face to face. Is that part really going away?”

About 2 years ago, though, we realized we had a problem. A good problem, but a problem nonetheless. We’d grown to a size where we couldn’t practically host a Town Hall conversation at Indy Hall – there just wasn’t room for everyone.

We started planning them at other venues, including Spruce Street Harbor Park and the Painted Bride, both of whom generous and graciously agreed to host us. However, that made it more difficult to coordinate, and Town Hall slipped from being a 3–4x a year event to a 1–2x a year event. As more time passed between Town Halls, the Town Hall gatherings themselves would balloon to 2-3 hours.

And worst of all, the ever-growing portion of our community who participate mostly through our online community ended up being excluded. People who had after-hours commitments ended up being excluded.

For lots of reasons, more and more people who WANTED to participate in Town Hall couldn’t join in. Obviously, a collection of small problems has snowballed into something a bit bigger, which has prompted the need to try something new before it gets truly problematic.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how this particular experiment could help, and I have a couple of hopeful outcomes from trying this a new format:

Outcome #1 – Town Hall happens more often, improving the overall communication across the community.

Outcome #2 – This creates room for new face-to-face events that are less about relaying news and information, and more about spending quality time together. These could be additional volunteering efforts across the city, going to sports events, theater/arts events, you name it.

In this case, our Holiday Party and Secret Santa exchange are coming up on Thursday the 17th. Perfect! RSVP here and plan to bring some of your favorite food or drink to share:

Outcome #3 – We encounter technical difficulties, or this doesn’t work for some other reason we haven’t predicted, so we try something else.

That’s another thing that makes this community special: we never need to fear change because we’re always keeping our sights on the bigger goal: working together to make Philadelphia a better place to make a living doing what we love.

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Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.