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Coworking in Community

In her famous autobiography Dorothy Day says, "We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community."In Seattle, community is the key to thesuccess of theCapitol Hill coworking space, Office Nomads. Coworking is therapidly growing idea that people of different professions can shareone working environmentand successfully attend to their individual jobs. When working from home becomes too stifling or distractingand the need to get out and interact with other people is overpowering, coworking isthe answer. For those who telecommute daily, coworking is ideal.In the Catholic Church, we talk a lot about the importance of community - our family community, our parish community. But what about our working community?The New York Times ran an article about the growing trend of coworkingin February andprofiled a few of the organizations that have helped facilitate the spread of this idea.The motto at Office Nomads is "individuality without isolation" and its founders Susan Evans andJacob Sayles knew that this idea wouldgo over well in Seattle - a city wherebusiness meetings often takeplace in crowded corner coffee shops. Office Nomads and its contemporaries haveprovided a newkind of communitythat inherently providesnetworkingand the exchange positive ideas while creating a space to get work done and of course, have a cup of coffee.It is this kind of community that prevents all of us from collapsing under the pressure of the long loneliness and allows us to grow more fully into the people God wants us to be.

About the Author

Marianne L. Tierney is a PhD student in theology at Boston College.



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Certainly a great idea for people who work independently. At $25.00 a day Office Nomads looks like a lucrative business.What I would like to know is how many have real community in their parishes. Jimmy Mac, if I remember correctly, is the only one on this blog who has a real community in his parish. Or have others not shared? If so Who and where?

By the way, mayber someone can explain why paid subscribers cannot access the present issue anymore? Someone mentioned this last week and the problem seems to remain. Any help?

Today on a VOTF blog was a report from Minneapolis of a group of about 100 Catholics told not to do their "celebration" there -so they've moved 5 blocks away. Too man yguitars, gays, dancing etc.Not in line with the GIRM according to the new coadjutor.Remark fro mone, "we're too 1960s and the Church is getting more like 1860."I note this because we keep talking about putting forward the faith but continue to crumble as a comunity and lessening our credibility to many.I think the idea of how a parish welcomes put forward by the late Msgr. Phil Murnion is disappearing under the crush of legalism and clericalism that seems to be the operative m.o.

Hi, Bob, you bring to the surface something that makes me vaguely uncomfortable about VOTF. It's not really part of the community ... it's more of an arbitrary creation that has inserted itself into the already-existing community.I'm sorry - there might be a nicer way to put it than that. I'm puzzled by VOTF, I guess. To the extent that they favor things like transparency, openness, lay participation in at least some decision-making, and so on - I'm for those, too.

Thanks, Jim.My perception is that VOTF is mainly mainstream but concerned much about issues like Eucharistic access, some real sense of equality for women in the Church and a big tent idea of both Church and parish - hence, my last post. Of course, they are also highly supportive (as am I) of the vuictims of sexualk abuse, especially to get the cancer of what happened out in the open and much more transparency and acuntability on the part of the hierarchy. Hence, it's hard for me to see it as an "arbitrary creation."They have newly elected leadership, well see hwere that leads.Thje fact that many hierarchs (not all) won't talk with them makes them suspect to many, but I think that just reinforces the issue of clericalism among the members.They are deeply concerned with the comunity -hence the issues of supporting priests of integrity but concern for Eucharistic access.Obviously, they are not very big on the "pure remnant" Church ,Finally, many are involved in ministry, from what I read, and expect to be treated as adults.Which gets me back to the thread that collaboration demands intermutual respect which heavily top down style does not lend itself to.

I am hard-pressed to figure out how one finds community in parishes with 2000+ families! There will be a familiarity if you recognize the identifiable faces who attend the same time of liturgy. People who put themselves out to be part of the activities of such a parish will be a more successful. Most people, however, dont volunteer; they need to be asked. Catholics are a rather unsociable lot at church and dont make it easy to be asked.Im not saying it cant be done as it obviously has been successful at Holy Family parish in Inverness, IL. think Fr. Brennan was successful because of his concept of what mission means in the local parish. I read his book ( awhile back and found his formulae to be quite helpful. One thing that seems to be absolutely necessary in a larg(er) parish is to successfully promote the use of smaller groups with a variety of aims that will be attractive enough to people to get them active outside of the Sunday mass shuffle in and out of the parking lot.My urban parish doesnt even have a parking lot! The streets of San Francisco can be a parking challenge for those of us who dont live there.

Hi, Bob,Thanks for the information and explanation. Not having had any interaction with VOTF (didn't even know they were in my archdiocese until someone from VOTF posted here a few months ago), I guess I'm still not sure what to make of them.I have this idealistic notion that the local church exists in a formal structure, headed by the bishop, or the pastor as his surrogate. Inasmuch as VOTF lacks that sort of "verticality", it seems to me to be lacking. But I suppose it isn't about supplanting the parish, but rather being a catalyst for change in the existing structures.

Hi, Jimmy Mac,My parish is just a couple of hops away from Holy Family, and we're in the situation you describe, with 3,000+ families. We do have a variety of small groups, and it has engendered a pretty strong sense of community among those who participate. But those are a fraction of the total (probably 10-15% of the registered parishioners). And I wish the small group activites drew more young adults, parents, teens - people who are probably most at risk of drifting away, but who have the least time to participate in parish life. For us, I guess it's still a work in progress.

Marianne, I really like your riff on community in the workplace, having finished "The Long Loneliness" as my Lent project and am on to a re-read of Thomas More's "Utopia."I know several Catholic women who have started lunchtime knitting groups both in and outside their offices. These things started as "stitch and bitch" sessions. Some have taken on charity knitting projects, but many simply provide connection and a kind of "leveling" of the office pecking order. These groups have also taught lots of women to knit!I've been an obsessive knitter myself since the second grade (only way my mom could get me to sit still was to give me yarn), and I'm excited about attending a retreat tomorrow to talk with women who've started these up.

Jim: my limited experience tells me that community building will ALWAYS be a work in progress. But we should never give up the search.I was blessed to hear Jean Vanier speak to a small group of pilgrims to the Holy Land in 1989 and he had this to say about community:Living in community is doing little things with love. The one who wins the prize, loses community. Jean Vanier, The Notre Dame Center - Jerusalem, June 1989.People join a community because they find something of themselves represented in that group. They can "identify". Regis Duffy quoted in RCIA: Mission and Ministry (article), "The Way", July 1989.

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