While walking across Somerville Ave. in Union Square I noticed that the old Elegant Furniture storefront was inhabited by a new concept. So I took a detour from my usual haunts, the Bloc 11 Cafe, Market Basket, etc., and walked right in. At the front desk was Anne Sholley – the freckled-face and friendly “Space and Community Manager ” of the WORKBAR. Like a grizzled reporter from the play The Front Page, I said, “Doug Holder, The Somerville Times.” Sholley proved to be a gracious host and explained to me that the WORKBAR is a “co-working space” founded by Bill Jacobson, a pioneer of this work space movement. Sholley explained that folks can rent space in this expansive venue on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
Looking around the space I noticed a much welcomed veil of silence – unlike what you might find in the many bustling coffee shops in these environs. Sholley told me, “Many of the people who come here to work are independent workers – writers, people who work a distance from the home corporation, as well as small grassroots businesses. We offer office space on an ongoing basis.” And indeed, there were a series of long tables with computer outlets, with plenty of space for patrons to spread out and plug in.
Sholley said the WORKBAR at Union Square holds many events, panels as well as demos from small companies to make it more of a community than an extended office.
Sholley believes the WORKBAR is in a great location, She opined, “Union Square is on the brink of being a great place for entrepreneurs with the much promised Green Line extension. There is a lot of energy here – it just feels awesome.”
WORKBAR is in partnership with US2, a master developer that is intimately involved with the gentrification of the neighborhood.
Sholley gave me a tour of the facility. She guided me to a number of small conference rooms – one of which is named after Somerville’s Hal Connolly – a 1956 Olympic winner for the Hammer Throw. There is also a mural by Somerville artist Crystal Burney that incorporates such Somerville hot spots as Brooklyn Boulder, etc. They also have a kitchen that offers free coffee and a variety of snacks.
I told Sholley that I might pay them a visit with stacks of papers to be graded, poems to write, and articles that have a deadline. Space is at a premium in Somerville, and now Somerville has a premium space.