The Space is only as valuable as the opportunities that it provides to the surrounding community. In an effort to support local entrepreneurs and small businesses, The Space On Main will host 4 pop-ups on April 19th. Stop by between 11am-2pm to visit with the owners and to pick up baked goods from Alice’s Kitchen, wine from Montview Vineyard, coffee (or cold brew kit!) from Upper Valley Coffee Roasters, and cheese from Blythedale Farm. For more information, check out the new Pop-Ups page!

Alice’s Kitchen
Located in East Corinth, Vermont
https://aliceskitchen.com

Alice’s Kitchen will have it’s first pop up store at The Space on Main, Friday April 19 (Good Friday)! Alice’s Kitchen is a small, licensed kitchen located in East Corinth, Vermont, offering special-order pastries and cooking and baking classes. Slow Food is our philosophy, creating everything from scratch, using as many local ingredients as possible.

Offerings at the pop-up will include Maple Sandwich cookies, Parisian Almond cookies, Easter M&M cookies and more. There will be two specials of the day (1) coconut cupcakes with coconut buttercream and a toasted coconut “nest” with mini jelly beans and (2) slices of savory puff pastry tart with fresh asparagus and Blythedale Farm Green Mountain gruyere cheese.

In addition to those listed above, also available for pre-order are entire Chocolate Peanut Butter Pies and Flourless Chocolate Tortes. Please email alice@aliceskitchen.com for prices and inquiries. No order is too small to pre-order, and special requests taken under consideration. Pre-orders are encouraged and will be accepted through April 12.

Upper Valley Coffee Roasters
Located in Newbury, Vermont
https://uppervalleycoffeeroasters.com

UVCR will be onsite brewing a variety of coffees on our pour over coffee bar, the 3 minute brew time is worth the wait! Pour over coffee is brewed by the cup and can be customized to your liking. Warm weather will also bring the cold brew, available by the cup or in a DIY Cold Brew Kit. We’ll also have all of our fresh roasted coffee’s on hand, available for purchase in 1/2# and 1# bags, take it home or great as a gift. Special orders or larger quantities available via email, please contact Andrea at andrea@uppervalleycoffeeroasters.com

Montview Vineyard
Located in Corinth, Vermont
https://montviewvineyard.com

Montview Vineyard is a family run winery located at 102 Flanders lane Corinth, Vermont. We specialize in producing wine from our locally grown cold hardy grapes. In 2017 we produced a red table wine Marquette, from our signature red grape which is distant relative of Pino Noir. From a blend of our white grapes Prairie Star and Frontenac Gris we produced a dry crisp wine names Pas De Deux. We are very pleased to offer our 2017 wines that are locally grown and locally made.

Blythedale Farm
Located in Corinth, Vermont
https://blythedalecheese.com

Blythedale Farm is a small, family-owned and operated dairy farm. Since 2004, we have produced an award-winning line of soft and hard artisan cheese by hand, in small batches, from the sweet milk of our Jersey cows. We are Tom and Becky Loftus, owners of Blythedale Farm, located here in Corinth, Vermont. We make five varieties of cheese, ranging from our unique Vermont Brie™ to our award winning Jersey Blue™. Each of our cheeses is made by hand by us on the farm with whole milk from our herd of 60 Jersey cows.

NBC Channel 5 Reports

Lawmakers explore potential of co-working spaces for rural development: Senate committee hears testimony on bolstering rural growth around shared work spaces Full article and video reported by Ross Ketschke on MyNBC5 6:25 PM EST Feb 19, 2019: https://www.mynbc5.com/article/lawmakers-explore-potential-of-co-working-spaces-for-rural-development/26416856

BRADFORD, Vt. — Vermont lawmakers are exploring the potential for using co-work spaces as spark plugs for economic development in rural communities.

The Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs hosted a hearing with co-work and makers space leaders from around the state in Bradford on Tuesday.

Senators heard testimony from local business leaders, entrepreneurs and directors of communal work spaces on their potential economic impact and ways the state could support growth they can potentially kick-start.

“It’s a place for people who are just moving to towns to know they have a community they can step into,” said Monique Priestley, founder of Bradford’s The Space on Main where the hearing was hosted.

Priestley’s co-working space opened its doors last fall and allows artists and entrepreneurs to rent out work space by the day or month.

The Space on Main, like other co-working or makers spaces, offers an array of tools for startups and artists including internet access and, in some cases, manufacturing equipment for designing product prototypes.

Priestley said the environment of co-working facilities is highly attractive to new business ventures looking to operate in collaborative spaces with other entrepreneurs.

“People see each other and overhear conversations and that’s sparking ideas or ways for them to collaborate with other people,” she said.

Director of the Center on Rural Innovation Matt Dunne said adapting the co-working space models for rural communities in Vermont would need some tweaking from their for-profit focused templates in startup hubs like Boston.

“It takes grassroots activities, frequently in a non-profit model but not necessarily. And it certainly takes support from the community and the state to make sure they succeed,” he said.

Dunne pointed to the lack of access to high-speed fiber optic internet access as an area the state could support and invest in to help attract new businesses to co-working spaces in Vermont.

The Center on Rural Innovation’s pilot campus in Springfield has taken advantage of the town’s unique access to high-speed fiber-optic connection.

However, not all communities have the infrastructure to support fiber connection, and Priestley said it is rarely affordable in places it is available.

She said her second largest expense behind monthly rent is paying for broadband.

“Broadband is the electricity of our time,” Dunne said.

Co-chair of the committee, Sen. Alison Clarkson (D) echoed their call for improved internet access in rural communities.

“We need to have the best high-speed in every downtown,” she said. “We also need it to every premise; to every home, to every business.”

Others who testified emphasized the need to support affordable-housing initiatives that bolster the communities surrounding co-working spaces.

Legislatures in Montpelier are reviewing multiple housing proposals this session, including a multi-million dollar housing revenue bond and housing rehabilitation incentive program.

NBC Channel 5 Reports

WEBVTT MODEL FOR SUCCESS. . MATT DUNNE, DIRECTOR OF CENTER OF RURAL INNOVATION “WE NEED TO BE PROACTIVE ABOUT IT AND MAKE SURE THAT WE’RE IN A PLACE WHERE NEW BUSINESSES CAN START BECAUSE ENTRAPANUERS OF TODAY ARE THE EMPLOYERS OF TOMORROW.” BUSINESS LEADERS FROM ACROSS VERMONT – MEETING WITH LAWMAKERS TO DISCUSS THE POTENTIAL OF CO-WORKING SPACES TO ACT AS A SPARK PLUG FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT. MONIQUE PRIESTLEY, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF SPACE ON MAIN “IT’S A PLACE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST MOVING INTO TOWNS TO KNOW THEY HAVE A COMMUNITY TO STEP INTO.” MONIQUE PRIESTLEY IS THE FOUNER OF THE SPACE ON MAIN… ONE OF DOZENS OF COMMUNAL WORK FACILITIES THROUGHOUT THE STATE THAT SHE SAYS HELPS FOSTER ENTRIPINUERHSI P BY BRINGING NEW BUSINESS VENTURES TOGETHER UNDER THE SAME ROOF. MONIQUE PRIESTLEY, PRESIDENT AND FOUNDER OF SPACE ON MAIN “PEOPLE SEE EADCHOTHER AND HEARING COVERSATIONS AND THAT’S SPARKING IDEAS OR WAYS FOR THEM TO ENGAGE WITH OTHER PEOPLE. THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, HOUSING AND GENRAL AFFARS HEARD TESTAMONY ON THE COLLABORATIVE SPACES HAVE BEEN POPULAR IN START-UP HUBS LIKE BOSTON AND NEW YORK… AND DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER OF RURAL INNOVATION MATT DUNNE OF RURAL INNOVATION MATT DUNNE SAYS USING THEM TO JUMP START DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENTS IN VERMONT WILL TAKE A UNIQUE TOUCH. MATT DUNNE, DIRECTOR OF CENTER OF RURAL INNOVATION “IT TAKES GRASS- ROOTS ACTIVITIES, FREQUENTLY IN A NON-PROFIT MODEL BUT NOT ALWAYS NESSICARILY, AND SUPPORT FROM THE STATE AND THE COMMUNITY TO MAKE SURE THEY SUCCEED.” ONE KEY AREA HE POINTS TO FOR STATE ASSISTANCE IS SUPPORTING EFFORTS TO EXPAND HIGH- SPEED INTERNET. MATT DUNNE, DIRECTOR OF CENTER OF RURAL INNOVATION “BROADBAND IS THE ELECTRICITY OF OUR TIME. IT IS A NESSICARY PART TO BE ABLE TO PARTISCIPATE IN ECONOMIES ALL OVER THE GLOBE.” SEN. ALISON CLARKSON WINDSOR, VICE CHAIR OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPEMTN, HOUSING, GENERAL AFFAIRS “WE NEED TO HAVE THE BEST HIGH- SPEED IN EVERY DOWNTOWN AND WE ALSO NEED IT IN EVERY PREMISE, IN EVERY HOME IN EVERY BUSINESS.” OTHER WHO TESTIFIED URGED THE COMMITTEE TO SUPPORT HOUSING INCENTIVES AND GRANT PROGRAMS TO HELP BOLSTER COMMUNITY GROWTH AROUND CO- WORKING SPACES. IN BRADFORD, ROSS KETSCHKE NBC 5 NEWS.

Founder & President of The Space On Main, Monique Priestley, gave testimony on-site today in support of coworking, makerspaces, broadband, and entrepreneurship at a Vermont Senate Committee On Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs hearing on Rural Economic Development & Innovation. Her testimony and full hearing video are below (Matt Dunne starts off the hearing at 1:00:00).

My name is Monique Priestley. I grew up directly across the river in Piermont, NH and then moved to Bradford during high school. I attended UVM and Northern VT University (Lyndon) for my undergraduate degrees and left for 15 months to get a Master of Communication in Digital Media at the University of Washington in Seattle. While in grad school, I worked for a Seattle software company that I continue to work full-time for, remotely, 9 years later. I continue to commute back and forth every few months to catch up with coworkers and to get a dose of an urban environment.

I serve on a number of local, municipal, and state boards including everything from our local health care center, to planning commission, to Chamber of Commerce, to the Vermont Council on Rural Development. This space was a retirement goal of mine, but at 30, our town was losing key businesses and every local meeting was filled with a palpable mixture of depression and desperation – wondering how to attract businesses, professionals, and young people.

You have heard and are going to continue hearing of the need for better access to broadband, a need to push technical education, and a need for better access to affordable and workforce housing. These are critical problems that need to be solved. We think an equally important problem is a lost sense of connection and community. A lack of communication and collaboration. A lost sense of civic responsibility. And a lack of sharing skills and resources. And we believe that coworking and makerspaces can address these problems head on.

Coworking and makerspaces facilitate efficient, affordable, and convenient sharing of resources. The remote worker, the contractor, the freelancer, the entrepreneur, the solopreneur, the working parent with a side-hustle, the traveling consultant. These individuals are not required to have an office space. In rural Vermont, it does not make sense to drop hundreds of dollars a month to drive to a location where they are most likely still going to be working in isolation. But $100/month to work in a shared, professional space where they can meet clients, have access to fast Internet, and have facilitated access to a network of people who can grow their businesses, their skills, the social circle, and their awareness of others in their community? That is game changing. In our handout, you will see that people joined The Space On Main for access to faster Internet access, but more importantly, they joined just to be around other people. They want to be engaged. They want to grow with, learn from, and share with others.

The Space On Main has been open for less than 4 months and already, our members have blown us away. They will tell you that this space saved their lives, their relationships, or their businesses. One member reported invoicing for more earnings in his first month than he has ever invoiced in his career. That same member shared that something as simple as access to a table and whiteboard made his product more professional. And that access to video equipment could enable him to evolve his real-time global reach to automated global reach that would allow him to help more people, make more money, hire staff, and require him to partner with other members to make up for his weaker areas such as marketing. Every single one of our members and many members of the broader community wants to start, evolve, or scale a business, but they need support and a network to do so. And that is what we provide, but it is going to be a struggle to purchase required equipment, make overhead, offer programming, and try to build in salary for a paid employee to manage things.

There are a few keys areas where we believe the state can make huge impact:

1. A more expansive broadband network, which in turn would lower costs. When we priced out fiber a year ago, it was going to be $2200/month, then $1100/month, and is currently $375/month for 50/50 (half of what it should be). After the lease, it is our greatest monthly expense.

2. A remote worker program that markets and matches people with available spaces. Even if you manage to convince a remote worker to come to Vermont and throw a few thousand dollars at them, you are not giving them a community to engage with. They are going to be isolated, in a new environment, with no real investment or connection to Vermont. They are going to feel the disconnection from the professional network they had in the city. Instead, buy them a year at a coworking space. Give that coworking space money to survive and to invest in programming that will allow them to offer professional development and networking opportunities to that worker.

3. Financially support or incentivize business and entrepreurial programming. We recently attended a facilitator training for a business accelerator training at LaunchVT. Ideally, The Space On Main would offer this 9 week program 3 times throughout the year. Each cohort can accommodate up to 16 people. From each, if 4 businesses result and even one stays and hires 10 people, that is 30 new jobs a year. We already have a full waiting list for the first cohort. Once that’s in place, We will expand similar programming to local tech center students. And from there, we will offer in-depth training in coding, accounting, business development, scaling, and more.

And as an additional note after receiving the proposed legislation list, absolutely expand the Downtown program. Receiving state tax credits was a make-or-break moment for this renovation project.

(Matt Dunne starts speaking approximately 1:00:00 in.)

Photo credit for featured image: Matt Dunne

Chamber of Commerce Award

Founder & President of The Space On Main, Monique Priestley, was the recipient of this year’s Cohase Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award. Here is the speech that she gave:

I want to share appreciation for everyone fighting all of the million little uphill battles. In their personal lives. Professional lives. And civically-engaged lives. Please don’t forget to share your stories. The most valuable lesson that I’ve learned over the course of the last year is that everything we are and everything we do is completely intertwined. And I think that a majority of people don’t reflect on that nearly enough. Many aren’t remotely aware of the world around them. How are we supposed to solve global issues if we don’t even realize the issues our neighbors are facing? Or sometimes, realize the issues affecting us internally?

I want to take a minute to share appreciation for everyone in the room who spends their evenings in meetings and their weekends volunteering, especially when they’re sometimes the only people that show up. We’ve all been in too many meetings to count where the questions on the table are, “Are we doing any good?” “Should we keep meeting?” “How do we get people to engage?” I heard this great quote at the Women’s March rally in Montpelier this past weekend. To paraphrase, “It’s important to be an activist, but the real work is in those 10,000 meetings for social change. That’s where the important stuff happens.” Thank you for going to the meetings.

I want to share appreciation for everyone who takes the time to listen to people. Who shares coffee with a kid with a business idea or a parent who is struggling. Who is never too busy to send that email introduction that can transform lives – even the ones that can’t. Who takes the time to review an application. Who shares their perspective willingly, and respectfully.

I personally believe that each of us has a responsibility to contribute everything we can to bettering society. Thank you for showing up, for doing the work, and for changing lives.

Thank you for changing my life. There are a lot of people in this room that have shared their time, energy, support, and story with me. You have written the emails and listened. You have opened doors for me. You have challenged my point of view and helped me grow. You have provided cheers. And hugs. Thank you for keeping me going. I promise to pay it forward.

Local, state, and national media has been amazingly supportive of our efforts. We keep our Press & Media Kit updated on a regular basis, but here are some highlights in case you missed them (from most recent to oldest).

• Cohase Chamber Announces Business and Citizen of the Year (Trendy Times, PDF | Page 1)
• The Space on Main Hopes to Connect Bradford Residents to Each Other and the World (DailyUV)
• Bradford space aims to bring independent workers together (WCAX News)
• Space on Main Founder Monique Priestley Cultivates Engagement in Bradford (Seven Days)
• Caledonian Record Business Watch November 10, 2018 (Caledonian Record)
• Worth Knowing: The Space on Main in Bradford is open and it’s pretty darn great (DailyUV)
• The Space Represents Bradford Commitment (Journal Opinion, PDF Pages 1,14)
• Downtown Hub Set to Open (Journal Opinion, PDF | Pages 1,12)
• Bernie’s Beat: Comments & Observations On Our Local Scene (Bridge Weekly, Archive | 8/26/18 | Pages 1,4,7,17) “Monique Priestley’s ‘The Space On Main’ is shaping up to be an important commerce generator for the area. A recent Cohase Chamber tour revelead an exciting entrepreneurial adventure ahead!”
• Someone You Should Know… Monique Priestley (Trendy Times, PDF | Page 9)
 Co-Working Space Aims to Boost Downtown Bradford (Valley News)

Kathy Davidow’s show, Mainly Street: Searching for that “Decisive Moment” will be featured in the Gallery at The Space On Main for the month of January. Come visit with Kathy during the opening reception on January 4th (First Friday) and for public viewing hours 3:00–5:00pm on subsequent Fridays throughout the month.

“A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away” Eudora Welty

Kathy began making photographs seriously 5 years ago when she joined the online photographic community called blipfoto (www.blipfoto.com). The purpose of blip is to journal your life with one picture a day. She has found that the discipline of taking a picture everyday and posting it has given her the confidence to experiment, realize that every picture isn’t the best, and recognize the moment when you have created a wonderful image. She loves finding a moment in time to keep it from running away.

At the opening reception, a wine tasting will be hosted by Montview Vineyard in Corinth, established in 2008 on a farm that was built in the 1830’s. All grapes used in their wines are grown in Corinth. At this tasting they will have Marquette, a red wine made from Marquette grapes and Pas De Deux, a blend of two white grapes, Prarie Star and Frontenac Gris.

Visit https://thespaceonmain.org/gallery for more information.

Linda Bryan’s show, “Blue x 2” will be featured in the Gallery at The Space On Main for the month of December. Come visit with Linda during the opening reception on December 7th (First Friday) and for public viewing hours 3:00–5:00pm on subsequent Fridays throughout the month.

With Blue x 2, Bryan combines her love for cyanotypes, an alternative photographic process, with different printmaking techniques, to create one of a kind, handmade images.

Cyanotype is one of the first photographic printing processes, invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842. In 1843, Anna Atkins published the first book to use photographs instead of illustrations, “British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions”. Using UV light for printing and developed in water, cyanotype is a very safe photographic process that does not require a lot of equipment.

Ms. Bryan has a BFA in Studio Arts from Johnson State College and an MFA in Photography from the Academy of Art University. She teaching both digital and darkroom photography through the Vermont State Colleges and has taught workshops in different photographic techniques for all ages. She still uses film and collects vintage cameras.

Portfolio & Contact Info: redhousestudio.com

Stephanie Gordon’s show, “Root & Branch: Encaustic Paintings” will be featured in the Gallery at The Space On Main for the month of November. Come visit with Stephanie during public viewing hours 3:00–5:00pm on Fridays throughout the month.

Stephanie Gordon has been an artist and craftsperson her whole life. She attended the University of Michigan (BFA cum laude). She spent her junior year in Aix-en-Provence, France studying French culture and art.

Stephanie has taught art to all ages, from kindergarten to adult. She taught art at Hanover High School for 18 years before retiring. She currently teaches community art classes for adults and teens. She exhibits work locally and regionally. Her artwork is in many private collections from one coast to the other

The artworks in this exhibit are mixed media encaustic paintings. Encaustic painting is a very ancient and beautiful method of creating luminous art from pigmented molten waxes called encaustics. Encaustics have been used for painting since at least the 1st century BCE in Egypt. The word encaustic comes from the Greek word “enkaustikos”, meaning “to burn in”. Each layer of melted wax must be fused to the one underneath with heat. Encaustics are well suited for mixed media work as objects and other materials can be embedded in the wax.

Portfolio: http://sbgordonart.com

The Vermont Pass

The Space On Main is pleased to announce it has joined the Vermont Pass network. The Vermont Pass is a partnership between amazing coworking spaces across the state, created to benefit our members. This partnership allows members to use any of the following spaces: The Lightning Jar (Bennington lightningjarvt.com), The Space On Main (Bradford thespaceonmain.org), Hinge (Burlington hingeincvt.com), Local 64 (Montpelier local64.com), Stowe Office Share (Stowe stoweofficeshare.com), Valley.Works (Waitsfield valleyworksvt.org), and Optimist Center (Woodstock optimistcenter.com). When you become a member of the one of these spaces, you have the benefit of using any of the spaces when you travel. Get in touch with one of these wonderful Vermont coworking spaces to learn more!

About The Space On Main (thespaceonmain.org)

The Space On Main is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and relies upon the generous support of individuals, philanthropic organizations, and businesses such as Copeland Furniture to provide their services. It is the mission of The Space on Main to foster entrepreneurship, innovation, the arts, education, health, and recreation in order to increase opportunity for personal and collective growth in the Cohase Region of Vermont and New Hampshire by providing a creative facility with access to affordable equipment, work spaces, and classes. It is The Space On Main’s goal to ensure prosperity of our community by leveraging talent in the region by creating pathways to outside individuals, services, and technologies.

About Vermont Pass (vermontpass.org)

The Vermont Pass is a partnership between amazing coworking spaces across the state created to benefit our members. Visit vermontpass.org to learn more about our coworking partners.

Monique Priestley Ribbon Cutting

Did you miss the Ribbon Cutting? Don’t worry! We have you covered with the help of Bob Farnham! You can find Monique’s speech below.

For those of you who thought you should show up, but still don’t understand what the heck this is – thank you for being open and curious. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

The Space On Main is a nonprofit center for people to create. To Experiment. To share their passions. To learn. To have fun! To enjoy work again. And most importantly, to connect to the amazing people that are just outside of their current circle.

There’s a lot of suck going on right now. If all you experience, every day is your daily routine piled with whatever depressing information major media dumps on you, you’re going to feel it. People are losing their sense of community and their ability to connect with it. It’s in that community that you experience the hope, beauty, and energy of being part of a bigger thing. Of humanity. Of being alive.

And that’s the true goal of The Space. To facilitate community connections. To give you a spot to teach that skill that you’ve always wanted to share. To give you an outlet to display your talents. To learn from your neighbor. To get out of your PJs, off of your couch, and to work next to those other 100 people who are telecommuting for jobs elsewhere around the world. To share coffee. And Wifi.

Every person here today has had a hand in making this happen. And I can’t thank you enough. When Hill’s and Perry’s went out of business, the town felt this hard. Every meeting I went to was covered in a sadness that I and others really weren’t sure we’d recover from. I personally started thinking that I should move back to Seattle where my full-time office is located. I had shared the dream of a community-focused building with most of my closest friends and mentors for years, but it was usually tossed up as a pipe dream. I myself considered it a retirement dream. Then at a Bradford Business Association social, Marvin told me it was time to share it with Angela. I did. Right then. Almost exactly two years later, here we are.

Because of each of you. Some of you played particularly key roles, which I would like to highlight here today. The first two couldn’t be here today as they passed within this last year.

Carol Priestley. Who volunteered tirelessly and always brought us along. To church, school, library reading programs, Memorial Day parades, and every other thing that she could coordinate or help with. She taught me the value of giving back, even when you can barely afford to stay afloat. And she taught the love and commitment that comes from the sense of belonging to your community. The Village of Piermont raised me, because everyone was always chipping in to be a part of something bigger than themselves (and taking care of me in so many ways).

Hellen Darion. Who passed on her 103rd birthday. She was spunky, critical, and found wonderment in every aspect of life. I got to know Hellen by giving her computer lessons, which eventually turned into being her Google-searching partner. Over the course of 8 years, we looked up everything. We’d often take times just to talk and reflect over whatever came to mind. Hellen’s constant question was, “Do you feel like you’re doing the most you can do?” I’d often reply, “I want to do something bigger, but I don’t know how yet.” And then she’d tell me she wanted to kick me and to figure it out. She drove me.

Nancy Jones. You all tease the heck out of me for being on so many boards. You can thank Nancy for that. My entry ask was Bradford Conservation Commission. 9 years ago. She asked me to serve. She gave me that first sense of being a part of serving something on behalf of myself. She took me to countless association annual meetings and dinners and I was always happy to go. I didn’t really understand how powerful that was until just recently. She is a mentor, a friend, and a powerful woman role-model.

Marvin Harrison. He’s responsible for me being on another handful of boards. He has a way of telling people to ask me to serve, and then tells me I’m doing too much. He’s my go-to. The one I email way too many times a day to ask how to approach situations and people. The most respected person in any room. The wise-cracker. A friend and mentor. I’m going to steal his words for a minute – “My hero”.

Donna Williams. Who’s been a mom to me since high school. My best friend. She poses hard questions and inspires me. She keeps me grounded, supports me, and even when I have crazy ideas, she’ll do things like provide the IRS application fee for a nonprofit startup.

Ryan Lockwood. My partner in life, love, laughter. You should probably all give him a hug. He’s the one who laughs when I run around the house bouncing after an exciting meeting. He’s the one who comforts me when I’m so frustrated in the world that I can’t do anything except cry. He’s the one who encourages me when I’m doubting myself the most. Who does things like stay at The Space working all day and night to get it ready without once saying he’d rather be anywhere else.

Vin and Angela Wendell. They probably thought they were crazy 1000 times throughout this. I thought they were crazy. I appreciate everything they’ve done, but more importantly, I respect them so much. I know they want this just as much as I do. I can’t even begin to express what this means to me and to the community – once they understand what this is.

My board members. A team of my closest friends from both coasts. But not just close friends. The most intelligent people I know who would have my back in life and business. But also a team of my most trusted and respected friends who I knew would keep me in check, call me out, and make me stop to think things through.

And now everyone else. The hundreds of people who have provided an ear. Encouragement. Excitement. Their life stories in a coffee shop or at their dining tables. Who let me in and shared their passions. Who shared their frustrations. And their dreams. And their address book. And their monetary support. Holy crap you guys. This whole thing has blown me away, inspired me, challenged me, taught me, and given me hope.

We made a thing together. And I’ll never be able to express how much that means.