Several members of Ann Arbor’s Workantile are quoted in a Forbes article about co-working as an option for employees who work remotely from their firm’s main offices. Workantile’s co-owner Bill Tozier: “Everybody keeps talking about the changing relationship between employee and employer. Co-working sort of offers an out, a gradual easement of that crisis. Rather than just sending people home, this remote employee relationship is a compromise that can work.” [Source]
What kind of “helpful” customer rearranges whole shelves of technology books at Borders – because the downtown Ann Arbor bookstore has them organized in a less-than-optimal way? Trek Glowacki.
For that sort of book rearranging, Glowacki is supported by the credential of a master’s in library science from the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Plus, the “self-described information problem solver” spends a lot of time at Border’s. It wasn’t some kind of drive-by book reorganization.
Given that Glowacki is inclined to reconfigure the space he inhabits – even if it’s a public space – it’s not surprising that he and his colleague, Jesse Sielaff, wound up using the Workantile Exchange as the venue for a course they taught recently.
That venue is a new coworking space at 118 S. Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor – a space furnished mostly with chairs and tables on wheels. It’s intended to be easily configured by the members of the Workantile Exchange to suit the specific needs of a particular project on a particular day.
The 3,000 square foot Workantile is partitioned into a very public area towards the front (just behind the new Mighty Good Coffee storefront), private areas for phone calls, plus a conference room towards the back.
But it was Workantile’s 800 square foot Training Loft that Glowacki and Sielaff used to teach their 5-week Ruby on Rails course. That course concluded on Thursday – the same day that Ann Arbor public schools wound up their year.
What’s Ruby on Rails? [Hint: It's not a Wizard of Oz mass transit system.] And how does teaching classes fit into Workantile’s culture of coworking?
“We need more data, let’s go launch something!” George Albercook of Rocks and Robots was talking about a reconfigured trebuchet beam. He and his colleague Katie Tilton had reinforced a PVC pipe with Kevlar thread, after a failed first attempt at the A2 Mech Shop open house Saturday afternoon.
But Albercook’s enthusiasm for the empirical applies equally well to any number of the enterprises grouped under the umbrella of A2 Mech Shop, LLC, which is housed in around 3,500 square feet of space on Parkland Plaza, just south of Jackson Road. They’ve had the keys since November 2008, and set up in January.
One example of an A2 Mech Shop enterprise is REVolution Electric Vehicles, a subsidiary of Electric Vehicle Manufacturing, which expects to begin producing electric maxi-scooters as soon as July 2009 at a not-yet-finalized Scio Township location. That location will also serve as a retail storefront, explained EVM’s chief engineer, Erik Kauppi, while the A2 Mech Shop space will continue to serve as a research and development facility.
The A2 Mech Shop can be loosely described as a co-working space with shop tools. It encompasses more than just research and development on electric scooters, but that’s where we’ll start.