CoLab holds official opening for Port Townsend site’s shared workspace

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Now that the soft opening is over for the Port Townsend CoLab, it’s time to do some hard work.

“Up until now, we were just getting our feet wet,” said Frank DePalma, who with Heather Dudley Nollette co-manages the cooperative workspace.

“It’s still a work in progress.”

The CoLab, located at 237 Taylor St. above the Silverwater Cafe, is a place where freelance workers can use shared resources, from office equipment to potentially lucrative ideas.

There have been a lot of changes to the 2,300-square-foot space since it began accepting clients in February.

The latest edition is two “Superman Booths,” isolated spaces where people can take a private call or conduct a Skype session away from other CoLab clients.

The CoLab operates on a membership model and has drawn 14 members so far.

Fees range from a one-day $20 “drop-in” charge through four levels of part-time clients paying $50 to $200 per month to two options for full-time workers.

The most expensive option, $375 per month, includes a dedicated desk.

The Superman Booths cost $10 an hour for advance reservations but are free to use if they are unoccupied.

Grand opening

During a reception Friday night to commemorate the grand opening, a laptop was rigged in one of the booths to take four portrait snapshots, similar to a carnival photo booth.

The CoLab provides an alternate to using a home office, where it can be difficult to get work done.

“I have a lot of distractions at home,” said Leif Hansen, who holds one of the maximum memberships.

“I have a family, and they actually like me to have a separate space of my own.”

Graphic designer Sarah Peller has a home office, but because she has four roommates, she comes to the CoLab during her busiest times.

“I come here when I have a heavy workload,” she said.

“Being in this environment makes it easier to concentrate.”

CoLab interactions

The interaction between CoLab clients can be frivolous, with someone calling for a random “dance break,” yelling out “you’re fired” in the middle of the day, or it can be profound, according to Hansen.

“There is a lot of what I call accelerated serendipity, where the people around you can help you reach a conclusion faster than you would if you were on your own,” he said.

“It’s helpful to have an environment where you get the support of other professionals.”

Hansen said the CoLab isn’t for everyone, such as those who want a totally quiet environment or do not like to collaborate.

DePalma said the CoLab is modeled after similar spaces in larger cities, but some Port Townsend uniqueness already has emerged.

“We are not all entrepreneurs, Web designers or professionals here,” he said.

“There are some people who want to write poetry and need a place where they can be productive, a space where they can generate ideas and meet others that can make those ideas into reality.”

Business hours

The CoLab follows conventional business hours and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, though a full membership includes a key code that allows round-the-clock use.

“There are times that I am here late,” Hansen said.

For more information, visit www.ptcolab.com, phone 360-301-3779 or 206-387-9846, or email hello@ptcolab.com.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 25. 2013 5:17PM
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