Everyone is searching for belonging. Oftentimes it comes in the spaces we visit and inhabit.
For younger people faced with stagnant wages, and skyrocketing real estate prices, many of us live in small apartments, and seek that feeling of belonging elsewhere. In places like coffee shops, bookstores and co-working spaces.
We look for lively, well-designed spaces that welcome people in. But so many of our spaces are cold, transactional and unfriendly.
What does it look like to create space with welcoming and belonging in mind? What does it look like to build that vision in a sustainable way?
Whether we like it or not, a huge part of sustainability is about business models. Many spaces and organizations launch with the goal of connecting people, and creating community, but few have the business models needed to sustain their operations for the long run.
University spaces often sustain on revenue from teaching classes, but trade-off community accessibility since they are focused on serving college students.
Public spaces like libraries are state funded, but few have created a vibrant community space that people continue to visit.
Semi-public spaces like the YMCA combine the non profit model of fundraising, and running youth programs, with the revenue from gym members who pay to use the facilities. This is an interesting combination that allows some level of flexibility.
Co-working and maker-space type models utilize a subscription revenue model where members pay to use the space. Though, the majority of the revenue for these spaces actually comes from the private offices, rather than the co-working memberships.
I think a lot about what would be required to create new kinds of spaces. Ones that were adaptive, inclusive, and vibrant hubs for community creation and wellbeing.
I haven’t found a solution yet, but I will keep dreaming until I get there.