Doug Dawson, who works for Choose to Succeed, used to work from coffee shops, but now has a permanent desk at Workery. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone
Doug Dawson, who works for Choose to Succeed, used to work from coffee shops, but now has desk space at The Workery. Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone

After covering an event Wednesday morning, Rivard Report photographer Kathryn Boyd-Batstone and I walked across a small courtyard to the main house of The Workery, a co-working compound at 221 W. Poplar St.

We were invited to check out the new space in Tobin Hill by co-founders Sally Aguilar-Robertson and Mari Aguirre-Rodriguez and since we both had work to do, Boyd-Batstone and I set up shop in in the front room of the historic, green house.

A fresh pot of coffee was waiting for us and some members sat in the living room of the home-turned-co-working-space, chatting while another worked at a desk half-listening. Upstairs, we found more people working on laptops in former bedrooms. Next door, there were even more “workery bees” (my words, not theirs).

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“We’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of interest,” said Aguilar-Robertson as she set up another coffee maker.

So far, The Workery has 25 “commuters,” members who pop in and out to use the community space, Wi-Fi, or perhaps even an on-the-go shower for $50 per month; and 22 “residents,” people who pay $275 per month to rent desk space.

The yellow house next door wasn’t supposed to open until some finishing touches were made on the building, but people wanted to move in right away, she said. The Workery is comprised of four buildings: two, two-story homes, the cottage, and a smaller single-story home off of Lewis Street that is currently unoccupied, pending member and co-founder input.

Resident Lesley Ramsey, a nonprofit consultant who recently started her own company, said it became awkward working from home as she has a dog that would bark while she was on the phone with clients.

“That’s not very professional,” she said, laughing. She signed up as a member of The Workery for the professional, yet relaxed environment and to network with other members.

Doug Dawson, who works for the local nonprofit Choose to Succeed that advocates and raises funds for charter schools, and two of his colleagues have desks upstairs, he said. The nonprofit does not have its own office and Dawson had been working out coffee shops.

“I’ve wasted a lot of time settling in,” he said of the nomadic office lifestyle. “Finding the right spot, finding an (electricity) outlet, having to buy coffee or food. … I felt guilty taking up space.”

The front room was slightly chilly when we sat down to begin our work, but it quickly warmed up. The Wi-Fi connection was good, the coffee was hot, and the room was filled with natural light. The occasional faint conversation could be heard taking place elsewhere in the house. Overall, it was a nice, quiet space to jam out an article. I can imagine that concurrent phone calls might be an issue once more members arrive in the community space, but there are plenty of corners and nooks that people can retreat to in order to avoid too much background noise. At least there aren’t any barking dogs.

The Workery aims to provide all manner of supportive seminars and classes including yoga, accounting 101, and more editions of the Trailblazer speaker series. Some events will be open to the general public, others will be members-only. For program updates follow The Workery on Facebook.

*Top Image: Doug Dawson, who works for Choose to Succeed, used to work from coffee shops, but now has desk space at The Workery.  Photo by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone. 

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at