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Gangplank opens new Downtown workspace
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Gangplank opens new Downtown workspace

Co-working center provides resources for collaboration

  • Volunteer Elliot Ledly greets guests at the Gangplank grand re-opening in Downtown's historic Pioneer Building.
    Molly Baker/TucsonSentinel.comVolunteer Elliot Ledly greets guests at the Gangplank grand re-opening in Downtown's historic Pioneer Building.
  • Scott Fyn discusses his printable paper airplane business with Xerocraft Vice President Leon Sierra.
    Molly Baker/TucsonSentinel.comScott Fyn discusses his printable paper airplane business with Xerocraft Vice President Leon Sierra.
  • The Gangplank initiative is to offer a welcoming a supportive space for community members to connect, generate ideas, and further educate each other.
    Molly Baker/TucsonSentinel.comThe Gangplank initiative is to offer a welcoming a supportive space for community members to connect, generate ideas, and further educate each other.
  • 'It requires us all coming together to do that. It’s all about making Tucson a better place.' Aaron Eden, director of Gangplank said regarding collaboration and coworking.
    Molly Baker/TucsonSentinel.com'It requires us all coming together to do that. It’s all about making Tucson a better place.' Aaron Eden, director of Gangplank said regarding collaboration and coworking.
  • Examples of some of the printable paper airplane models that Fyn provides on his website.
    Molly Baker/TucsonSentinel.comExamples of some of the printable paper airplane models that Fyn provides on his website.

Gangplank celebrated their grand re-opening in a newly decked-out suite in the historic Pioneer Building downtown Wednesday night.

Stemming from the original Gangplank in Chandler, Gangplank Tucson is a manifestation of its own creative collaboration policy. Not only was the new office donated for the first several months, but members also provided the fresh coat of white paint and the photographs that decorated the walls of the 8,000-square-foot space.

As a non-profit collaborative workspace, Gangplank provides free resources and professional advice to anyone who walks through their doors. The Gangplank initiative is to offer a welcoming and supportive space for community members to connect, generate ideas, and take successful steps towards their personal business goals.

“You pay with karma instead of cash,” said Aaron Eden, Gangplank's director. “We ask that people that use this space do something to pay it forward and bring their knowledge back out to the community.”

Professional business counseling is available, as well as skills classes on website design, software development, even such specialized talents as programming 3D printers.

“This is your community geek center,” said Ryan Flannagan, CEO of Nuanced Media, a private company that partners with Gangplank. “We are here at our community’s disposal. It’s about getting out there, being involved and trying something quirky because it might be something great.”

About 150 people attended the opening, Flannagan said. On an average day, about 20 are working at Gangplank, but with workshops and preparation for the opening, "this week it's been more like 50," he said.

Gangplank is not the only self-proclaimed “makerspace” in Tucson. Other groups like Xerocraft, Maker House, Spoke6 and Connect all encourage co-working, and plan on combining their resources. Gangplank and Xerocraft have already collaborated on projects.

“It was never about competition, always collaboration, ” Leon Sierra, vice president of Xerocraft, said regarding Gangplank. “We compliment each other. We want to emphasize the dissemination of free information.”

Gangplank opened in Tucson in November 2011, at the Bookmans Event Center, near Interstate 10 and Irvington Road.

With a more central location at 100 N. Stone Ave., Suite 110, Gangplank hopes to be a resource for a broad spectrum of people that want to get involved in the community, stay in Tucson, and help advance the local economy. Their move was helped by a temporary rent reduction from the building's owner, Holualoa Companies. 

“What’s happening here is very important to the Tucson community and the future of the city,” said Alex Rodriguez of the Arizona Technology Council, another private company working with Gangplank. “If you look around Tucson, there are not a lot of large-size, corporate businesses. A lot of them are smaller to medium size businesses, so we have to really grow our own economy in this environment. Something like Gangplank offers people the community, the nurturing, and the support for success.”

Although Scott Fyn has only been working with Gangplank for about three weeks, he says he is already ecstatic about the networking the workspace has provided. Fyn has found volunteers to help market his online printable paper airplane business, while passing on knowledge about e-commerce to other community members.

“There are endless ways to start your own business,” Fyn said. “You’re only limited by your own creativity.”

According to Fyn and others, in a rapidly changing economic environment, creativeness becomes essential. The creative class has the power to move the city forward.

“If there’s something new that you want to learn, or something new that you want to teach, we want to help you do that,” Eden said. “We want to unleash magnificence. This is not about doing mediocre things. This is about doing incredible things. It requires us all coming together to do that. It’s all about making Tucson a better place.”

Gangplank values

  • collaboration over competition
  • community over agendas
  • participation over observation
  • doing over saying
  • friendship over formality
  • boldness over assurance
  • learning over expertise
  • people over personalities

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