With Basestation in full “building mode” and prepping to open its doors next month to a community of doers, conversations and interrogations abound. To get answers, it always feel good to find people on a similar journey to share with and bounce ideas off.

I catch up with Derryn Williamson, who has set up a new venture, The Orchard, to create a collaborative workspace, in Whangarei.

How did you get involved with the Orchard?

In February this year and new to twitter I connected with Elinor Slomba (@artsint) who works with The Grove in New Haven (a coworking space in the US).  She tweeted a link to an article about the coworking space she works from and I thought “that is brilliant I’d love to work in a coworking space like that”.  That weekend I started a journey to learn as much as possible about coworking and work out a way that we could create a workplace in Northland.  Having read a bit online about the concept of coworking and what the underlying philosophies were, I jumped to a massive "ah ah moment", coworking is just like a playcentre only the people are bigger and hopefully toilet trained.  Having just spent the last five years co-running our local playcentre, I relished in the role of empowering, motivating and creating a fun, creative environment for both adults and children to learn, grow and play in.  I get a lot of joy out of being there for people and helping them find new ways of looking at or doing things.  Exposing them to possibilities that they had never seen before or thought possible.

The Orchard collaborative spaces are such a great opportunity for collective power. We can either continue to work in silos and isolation or we can come together and start to build a community that supports, extends, encourages and grows together.  We are taking a regional approach to the development of our collaborative network as we need to connect on a wider scale to be successful.  The project has recently received a significant boost with our regional economic development group Northland Inc sponsoring the concept and delivery study we are currently undertaking.

What is your vision for the place?

The vision is to create a network of spaces throughout Northland that are buzzing with passionate people who share in the concept of working together to build a stronger, more resilient micro-enterprise sector for our region.

We at the the very early phase of the journey so we don’t have a ‘space’ yet but are scoping properties and developing design specifications.  I’m collecting/harvesting knowledge and wisdom from existing centres and seeding relationships for a better connected NZ coworking future.

What gets you up in the morning?

Apart from my three boys, the dog and the cat, my motivation every day is actually quite cheesy but to learn something new, make a positive difference and to make something happen.  I also need a large cup of decent coffee every morning to kick me into gear.

It will be great to speak with Derryn again when she next visits Tauranga to explore ways these collaboration spaces could connect beyond their walls.  Basestation and The Orchard are built on different models, Basestation being a fully private entreprise. But there is much to be gained by all by looking at ways of connecting the dots of the coworking space network.

t: @TheOrchardNZ  fb: TheOrchardNZ  w: www.theorchard.co.nz

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