BELFAST— Belfast just got a new co-working space.
“The Commons,” a ground floor space at 158 High Street in downtown Belfast next to the vinyl record shop, opened to the public on Monday, January 20, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The 375-square foot room is a cross between a shared workspace and a hub for community, particularly those who are involved with climate, environmental, and social justice work.
The space is a welcome addition, as evidenced by the nearly 100 citizens who came to the grand opening. The event was so packed, people were standing outside and up the stairwell just to hear what was going on inside.
The Commons is intended as both a physical location for the founding members of four organizations to use as well as a public space four days a week for the public to come in and exchange ideas, engage in conversation, hold meetings or just get in out of the cold. The four founding organizations are Local Citizens for SMART Growth, Belfast Area Community Rights, Friends of Harriet L Hartley Conservation Area and Midcoast Maine Extinction Rebellion
Donna Broderick, who is affiliated with two of the four organizations, is a core member of The Commons.
“The opening was beyond what we could imagine in terms of turn out,” she said. “During our soft opening, the Peace and Justice Group of Waldo County expressed an interest in having their monthly meetings there. And at our official opening, a youth climate change group that’s forming in the Midcoast indicated they want to have their meetings there as well. The character of the space is really going to be formed by the individuals and organizations that step up to use it and I imagine that will change as time goes by.”
Broderick added: “We decided collectively to open a space where we could have board meetings, public events, educational nights and whatever people want. Part of it was that we needed a physical space for people who wanted to know more about our organizations and didn’t know how to do it.”
Inside the room is a meeting table, chairs, a desk, storage, a coffee station and free WiFi. The room can accommodate approximately 12 to 15 people comfortably.
“We had some people donate some printers, but mostly, people are bringing in their own laptops,” said Broderick.
The Commons does not yet have a website. Their public hours are on Monday from 10 a.m to 1 p.m., and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“A lot of people told us: ‘this place is really the heart and energy of Belfast,’” she said. “Belfast has had a rugged couple of years with the announcement of the Nordic Aquafarms proposal and there’s been a lot of animosity and a lot of divide in this town. So, part of the intention of this space is to create bonding and bridges for people on both sides of this issue. It was really interesting that a lot of people who feel one way or another about the Nordic project came to check out the space.”
Space is available on a first-come, first-serve basis, giving priority to the founding members.
To learn more about how your organization can use this space, call 207-507-7108 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org ( Wait 24-48 hours for a reply).
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com