Monday, February 13, 2006

Considering Third Spaces

think:lab bounces off this report on the rise of nonprofit and commercial ventures that provide space for freelancers and others who need a place to work (or even just hang out) that isn't at home.
"How about combining work, child care and BEING SPACES? Yes, there's a business opportunity in that as well: look no further than TwoRooms ('You Work, They Play'), another (surprise!) New York based facility designed to provide office space, childcare and community, all in one setting, for freelance and/or home-based workers who don't have the need for, or can't afford the expense of full-time childcare."
Having worked at home for three days a week over the past two years, I've been fascinated by these new spaces. Business Community Centers provides some interesting analysis on the concept, and the Queen Street Commons in Charlottetown shows the concept in action. The note about childcare in the quote also rings true for me.

Many of our friends are in the same life stage as we are with young kids at home, and we're all feeling the absurdity of all-or-nothing choices when it comes to work and childcare. Most daycares apparently won't even consider flexible, part-time care options, and of course employers tend to want more than 40 hours a week out of employees (in the office) rather than finding ways to accommodate working parents. No easy answers, but some of these third-place developments make me think that the solo/freelance/free-agent life may become even more attractive for people feeling this squeeze.

Christian also connects the dots on this trend and thinks it might be the model for schools of the future -- comfortable places with great resources for self-directed learners to do their thing. I love this vision:
"Imagine if the next school design in your home town or community included a community "Being Space" such as any of the above, in addition to the Media Learning Center and the Distance Learning Lab. Imagine when community and school really become one and the same!"


Rob said...

Hi jeremy
I think that this movment is so important. I am starting to understand that if we can close the gap between work and family - we will have copme home.

Please find more.

I am working with a national organization for Family Resource centres and this is where to have a look inside the project?
All the best Rob

Jeremy said...

Hi Rob. It is fascinating, isn't it?

At the simplest level, maybe more people just need a drop-in daycare that provides four hours of early-childhood learning for the kids and a comfortable space to work (and shared resources like copiers, printing, wi-fi) for the parent who has the option and flexibility in their work arrangement. Why couldn't existing facilities reconfigure themselves to allow this?

I get the impression that daycare centers see themselves as all-or-nothing institutions like schools rather than service providers like libraries or walk-in clinics. Come to think of it, why couldn't libraries offer a for-fee childcare service? They already have the space, the learning resources, the community integration...

What is a Family Resource Centre?