Together, We See Hope

Multiple line drawing of hands with the words "you are not alone"
One of the rapid murals installed at UXC Tacoma on Pacific Ave, painted by Angela Larsen of Lovesome Dove

Each month, our Spaceworks alumni get together for an evening of networking and professional development. Usually, these are hosted at a local restaurant or by alumni who have brick-and-mortar businesses. Since March, however, we’ve resorted to Zoom. On our most recent call, we didn’t have a speaker lined up or an official presentation. We just talked and checked in with each other, allowing the conversation to meander, wrapping the participants with the words we needed to hear.

There was fear and frustration and anxiety, but also so much laughter and support and conviction. It was, as they say, all the feels.

For me, I came to the alumni group thinking about the months of recovery ahead of us, as a program, our community, and the creative sector. Those are heavy thoughts to carry. As the night progressed and I listened to a dozen creatives share their own business adaptations, my thinking started to shift. Individually, none of us are fixing COVID-19, but we each are offering something, and that collective impact starts to add up.

Here are some examples from the call:

Liz from Stocklist Goods and Gifts had to board up her store but is now offering free shipping and local delivery within Tacoma. And last week, they made 75 deliveries in a single day, aided by a Mapquest feature that shows the most efficient route between multiple addresses.

Geoff from Orthographic Audio (aka, the guy who makes 3-D printed speakers), is now printing 50 ear savers a day and donating them to a local hospital.

Ann Marie took her tutoring program and is offering digital learning via Zoom for her students.

Ashley of Paradoxum Consulting has shifted her focus to business resiliency strategies and is offering a free webinar this Monday at 11am.

Chelsia of Chrys-a-lis hasn’t quite figured out how to do custom clothing through social distancing but acknowledges that couture face masks and gloves might be in her future.

Michelle of Circle Up Productions launched one of the first virtual performances in Tacoma. Not only does she have another one scheduled for April 24 (get the exclusive link by joining her VIP Circle), but she’s already been hired by local nonprofits to virtually host their fundraisers.

Steve from GoodDesign is grateful for the City’s updated regulations about business signs on sidewalks. Hint: he’s open and ready for clients.

As we wrap up our first month under the governor’s stay-at-home orders, I offer these thoughts: what are we each uniquely positioned to do that no one else is doing? (To reference our business incubator, what is our competitive advantage?)

When we feel the pressure to do it all—and this is a reminder I have to tell myself—we have to play to our strengths and believe that our collective creative action will be enough.

–Michael Liang, Spaceworks Program Director