Welcome to the Year of the Catapult

For weeks now, I’ve been trying to put the experience of this last year into words, while also clearing my head enough to articulate clearly what I feel in my gut is coming up next. There’s a reason it’s been such a struggle: 2020 was unlike anything any of us had ever experienced.

Events of this week have already proven that 2021 will be, too. 

If 2020 was the year that the floor fell out from beneath us all, 2021 is the year we’re going to be flung in the opposite direction, catapulting into an era of urgently collaborative, painfully intense new ways of doing things that are equal parts disorienting, scary and exhilarating. We’re riding a slingshot. Or better yet, a catapult. 

If 2020 was the year of the ‘pull back’, 2021 is the year that an overwhelming abundance of pent up energy, ideas and determination all come flinging forward. Most won’t be ready for the surge. Some will. 

At Vibe Coworks, we’re ready. 

The incredible fortune of this is not lost on me. In fact, it bears pausing to recognize that I say this against a background of profoundly deep, utterly real gratitude to the many of you who have kept Vibe above water these last months. Gratitude to those who’ve kept their memberships going. Gratitude to those who’ve sponsored memberships for others who could no longer cover their own. Gratitude to those who’ve checked in, sent notes, baked treats… shared goofy pics across Slack. And gratitude to those who’ve helped us apply for local and federal funding—again, and again, and again. Without all of this—without all of you—we might not be here at all right now. 

And yet, here we are, ready for the surge.

In this, the Year of the Catapult, coworking is poised to become the permanent definition of work life as we know it, in Kitsap and far beyond. In the five years prior to COVID, the number of people working remotely had grown by 44%. Just imagine what that number is going to look like post-COVID.

Here’s what community + coworking looks like in 2021

Long before a global pandemic forced a widespread understanding of what these new ways of working could be, we were already on it.

This year, we’ll continue to do precisely what we do best: provide a welcome oasis of workplace connectivity, inspiration, support and productivity in Kitsap that is not found through home offices, long commutes or long-term leases. Now, more than ever, community matters.

As we catapult our way into 2021 with gratitude and ambition, here are 7 things we are most looking forward to (in no particular order): 

1. Reconnecting in person

Believe me when I say that there’s nothing I miss more than the steady hum of in-person workshops, trainings, film screenings, coffee hours and mastermind sessions around the Vibe space. Keeping everyone safe and healthy remains our absolute, number one priority, and you’d better believe that we’ll be bringing back in-person gatherings as soon as public health officials deem it safe to do so.

2. Welcoming new members to the Vibe family

The strength of Vibe Coworks lies in its culture of welcoming across all lines of work and perspective. Across the Vibe community, you’ll find consultants, designers and creatives, just as readily as you’ll find tech companies, nonprofits, engineers, health and wellness professionals and employees from large and high-growth companies. Some come to collaborate, some come to work alone in the presence of fellow humans. 

Many would-be Vibists have smartly held off on coming in until the world has gotten a better grip on the ‘rona. With every mask worn, vaccine taken and medical advance made, I like to think we’re getting closer. We’re so looking forward to welcoming a wave of fellow Kitsapian neighbors and newcomers to a coworking community that’s arguably one of the best in the Pacific Northwest. (Thinking about joining now or down the road? Check out our memberships, the Vibe host program and/or remind a current Vibe member to take advantage of our Refer-A-Friend program)

3. Bringing together smart thinking, creative ideas and inspirational stories from around the globe

Success isn’t born in a vacuum, and neither are fresh ideas. While I believe to my core that it’s every bit possible to be the master of your own worldwide destiny from right here in Kitsap, I also believe deeply that the best ideas, the best businesses, the best solutions will always be those that are shaped by a wide range of experiences, both local and global. This year, we’ll be honing in on that here at Vibe, celebrating the visionary projects, ideas and strategies that are making the Pacific Northwest more livable, sustainable, equitable and economically viable, while also tapping into those that are surfacing in other corners of our country, and world. Prepare to get inspired.

4. Creating a path towards investment in businesses owned by womxn and people of color

In every year since it’s been measured, less than 3% of venture capital is invested in women-founded companies in the US. If that doesn’t make your jaw drop, just wait until you dig into the stats on venture capital investment in Black-founded companies. (Hint: it’s less than 1%). There are many other ways to scale a company, of course, but the problem is painfully clear. More than half of our population faces inequitable, potentially insurmountable odds when it comes to launching big ideas. 

Way back when Vibe was first founded in the confines of my and Marcel’s tiny NYC apartment, we committed to working on this issue, outlining a framework for Vibe as 1) a powerhouse for tech and entrepreneurship, 2) as a hub for people who are changing the world (social impact), and 3) as a driver for investment in businesses owned by womxn and people of color.

Surprised? We haven’t publicly articulated a whole lot around that vision as of yet, but you’d better believe we’re going to be chipping away at it this year, in partnership with other organizations and leaders that have deep experience in these areas. It’s beyond time.

5. Supporting the NavalX Northwest Tech Bridge at Keyport

In case you missed it, Keyport is now one of fifteen cities worldwide that boasts a NavalX Tech Bridge, an initiative that
aims to enhance collaboration between Naval Labs, industry, academia, and other military branches. Rapid collaboration, workshops, and problem-solving events that bring together our region’s Innovation Ecosystem will be the trademarks of the Tech Bridge’s success, and Vibe was honored to host a high-level kickoff meeting for the program last year. As we dive full in to 2021 and beyond, we’re excited to support a robust calendar of cross-sector happenings with the Northwest Tech Bridge team and all of its related partners.

6. Growing our footprint

2020 changed the way the world views work, forever, including many companies, CEOs and managers who were once reticent to try remote work on for size. The office is not dead, and people will absolutely return to them. But the offices of 2021 and beyond will not be the offices of old. The offices of now will be ones that encourage collaboration, shared culture and socializing—all of which lead to productive brainstorming sessions, new ideas and innovation. 

For Vibe Coworks, 2021 will be a year of steadying our feet from a tricky 2020, growing usership at our Bremerton location, The Spot (opened in the midst of the pandemic, no less!), and marking out a path towards large-scale expansion in the near future. From Vibe Poulsbo to Vibe Zermatt? Why not.  

7. Having fun

Last but not least, we’re determined to keep having fun in all that we do. I’m looking forward to joining Team Vibe out at the Viking Tour Bike Ride once again, and to meaningful discussions at each of the Micro Gallery art opening events. I’m excited to celebrate hard-earned achievements within our community at member book / product / business launch parties… to volunteering together, book clubbing together, and happy-houring together. Life is far too short to be serious, and I’m grateful to be part of a circle of inspirational people here that can find reason to smile, snort and even guffah, no matter how wild the ride. 

Here’s to the Year of the Catapult.