One Cause At a Time – Archive

An Archive of Chicago Now One Cause at a Time Posts

Archive for March 2014

Chicago Coworking for the Common Good

leave a comment »

PanzanzeeFor many Chicago agents of social change – from non-profits to social entrepreneurs – coworking spaces are becoming hot spots of activity. Taking an almost open source approach to working, they provide facilities for freelancers, business owners, and other like-minded people to collaborate, cooperate, and build their own sense of community. (They also provide office space and amenities at relatively low cost for startups and smaller organizations). In Chicago, there are three coworking spaces which are driving social impact by bringing together a diverse range of individuals.

One of them is Panzanzee, a coworking space/business incubator located in River North. Although they hold a variety of trainings and events throughout the year, Panzanzee focuses on incubating three kinds of organizations: social impact businesses, traditional businesses, and non-profits with a business model. They’re also one of the more active coworking spaces in social media, focusing on engaging a wide audience via Twitter and Facebook. By bringing together a diverse range of individuals and resources, Panzanzee works towards empowering members and businesses to make a maximum impact…which has a greater effect on the overall community.

In the same neighborhood, The Work Well is a relative newcomer to the coworking field. (Thanks to the Nonprofit Pros in Chicago Facebook group for making the connection). Although its amenities might be geared more towards a corporate audience, Work Well also contains some activity by non-profits, including No Stigmas. (Its pricing also makes it attractive for potential customers – I have to admit that I’m considering checking it out for a day). Convenient to transportation, the Work Well is a sharp up-and-comer in the coworking field.

But Blue 1647, located in the heart of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, provides a wide variety of services for social change agents and other local entrepreneurs. This incubator/coworkingBlue 1647 space focuses on education (through a variety of workshops), workforce development, and business development/economic acceleration. It also provides a more range of activities, focusing not just on nuts-and-bolts businesses, but also on fostering a strong sense of community. (It’s no surprise that Blue 1647 is listed in the City’s first official Tech Plan, and if you want to sample the range of sessions, simply visit their Meetup group for a sampling. (You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook as well).

Coworking may sound like a buzzword, but at its heart is the idea that like-minded people can accomplish more by gathering and collaborating….and ultimately, community is always about striving to find common strengths and interests to benefit the common good.

Can you recommend any coworking spaces/social business incubators in Chicago? Please feel free to leave them in the comments below. You are always more than welcome to reach out to me privately with questions or comments – my contact information can be found on the blog’s About page . (Also please be sure to follow us on Facebook as well)

And as always, thanks for reading!


Written by gordondym

March 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Chicago Networking Events For the Social Good

leave a comment »

CNow - CBOTChicago is a city where various networking events focused on technology and social benefit efforts thrive and flourish. Although several Meetup groups were featured last week, there are other groups that provide great informational and networking opportunities. (And unlike other networking groups, focus more on delivering value than driving a high number of attendees). This week, we’re going to feature three upcoming efforts (two happening next week) that deserve your attention and participation.

So without further adieu,

  • Providing free training for non-profits and other social benefit organizations, HandsOn Tech Chicago is sponsoring several upcoming seminars focused on using specific tools. Upcoming sessions include a webinar on crowdfunding, a seminar on using MailChimp to develop e-mail campaigns, and a session on search engine optimization. For more details and RSVP information, please visit this site.
  • Next Wednesday will be the regular meeting of the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise from 4:00 – 6:00 pm in C-500 at 160 N. LaSalle. (Full Disclosure:I currently volunteer on the Task Force’s Outreach Committee). Focusing on community based food and agriculture-oriented efforts, this will be a very informative meeting, and space is limited. Please RSVP via Eventbrite if you are interested.
  • Finally, the relaunched Chicago Net Tuesday/Net2Chi is holding a session on The Nature of Measuring Impact in Fundraising on April 22nd. As one of the longest running groups, Net2Chi tends to focus more on digital excellence and access issues throughout all of Chicago’s communities. (Many similar groups take a narrower focus). This is definitely one event I can strongly recommend (having organized the group in the past), and encourage anyone who is interested in social impact consider attending. You can RSVP via Meetup, but I would also encourage anyone interested to secure their space via Eventbrite.

Networking, in the purest sense, focuses more on building and establishing mutually beneficial relationships and less on collecting business cards or driving excessive attendance numbers. All of this week’s events are worth considering if only to provide you with some great alternatives and resources. If you cannot make any of these, please consider forwarding this post via social media to other like-minded individuals….and prove that Chicago is as much a city of Big Hearts as it is Big Shoulders.

Any groups you can recommend? Please feel free to leave them below in the comments. You are also welcome to reach out to me privately with questions or concerns – contact information is available via the blog’s About page. And as always, thanks for reading!

Support Chicago Meetups For Social Good

leave a comment » Last weekend, was brought to a standstill due to a variety of attacks on its service. (Slate has a great article outlining exactly what happened). For many groups, Meetup provides valuable assistance and resources for organizers of events. In the past few weeks, two new Meetups – focusing on tech and social good – have been created, and are well worth your time and involvement.

On February 28th, the Chicago Broadband Communities Meetup group held its inaugural meeting at Harold Washington Library. Focusing on the impact of broadband internet access for all citizens, this first meeting included presentations by Partnership for a Connected Illinois/Broadband Illinois and the Center for Digital Inclusion (out of Champaign). Although an initial kickoff meeting, the group hoped to get input on how to mobilize around increasing broadband usage, with an emphasis meeting the needs of “broadband deserts”, providing home access for all, and using broadband as a tool for community economic development.
In short, broadband access is a key component of digital excellence – with several initiatives working toward providing access to underserved communities, having citizens willing to meet, share information, and (most importantly) advocate and act will provide the group energy and motion. Tentative plans are for an April 1st event, and people can receive updates simply by joining their Meetup group.

Another group (of special interest to those working in the non-profit field) is the Chicago Non-Profit Marketing & Communications Professionals group. Their kickoff happened in February with a casual tea/social. Although relatively informal, the group did manage to have a lively discussion about the challenges in working in the non-profit field. (Several of my fellow Meetup attendees shared challenges of both freelance and full-time work with non-profits). Although there is no immediate follow-up scheduled, this is a group that is definitely worth following.

Although Meetup is a great resource for meeting organization, it has seen its share of controversy and challenges, from its handling of this recent service outage to closing its public discussion forums to making changes to its platform without informing its users.  In a field where competitors like Eventbrite are gaining a critical edge, Meetup is at least working to rectify some problems – offering organizers a rebate for lost service will be a financial setback for the service. (Full Disclosure: I run two non-professional groups on After the public forums closed, the public non-affiliated Discuss Meetup site was created to allow both organizers and members to ask questions and share information about the service.

Chicago has a great variety of events, and Meetup is not the only source….but at the very least, it provides a simple entry point for diving into the world of social good.

Thoughts? Please leave comments below, and you can contact me privately (information available via the About page)