A Safe(r) Space to Cowork and Create

by | Dec 14, 2020 | QUEER RVA

For many QTPOC and BIPOC folks, there hasn’t been a space that genuinely meets their needs and priorities. The Collab Spot, a social justice-focused Black-centric community hub is opening its doors at the beginning of next year, hoping to change that.

The Collab Spot, a coworking space run by and dedicated to queer Black individuals, is expected to open its doors to Richmond next year.

Located in Richmond’s Northside, the social justice-focused community hub aims to provide a safe space for the Queer/Trans People of Color (QTPOC) and the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community. 

There’s so many times where I know each of us individually have heard Black folks say, ‘where can we?’,” said Abena Pierce Williams, co-partner of The Collab Spot. “So, I’m looking forward to The Collab Spot being the answer to that question.”

Brooke Taylor, co-director of collaborations, said while there are many Black-centered organizations, they are often singularly-focused. Taylor emphasized the need of a space where “someone could just come on a random day and hang out; do their work, get a cup of coffee, be around other queer people, be around other Black people.”

The Collab Spot is composed of several local Black, QTPOC, and BIPOC-led organizations, including ConjureWorks and Catalysts for Change Consulting. It is also supported by Southerners On New Ground and Radical Roadmaps.

The Collab Spot is open to collaborating with other organizations that share its core values. These values include social justice, community, shared leadership, creativity, and sankofa. Sankofa is a word from the Twi language that translates to “Go back and get it,” which embodies The Collab Spot’s mission of reclaiming historically Black spaces.

“That’s very important to us to continue to sort of gather up in this community hub, different Black BIPOC organizations that believe in liberation,” Taylor said.

Photo by Jaime Patterson, via The Collab Spot/Instagram

Located on 2022 Sledd St., the coworking space is in an area that has been rapidly gentrifying. Establishing the community hub not only reclaims an area that has been gentrified, but allows folks in that space to partake in shared core values.

The Collab Spot is currently taking donations through Indiegogo. Contributions will go to help cover the cost of upkeep of the building, program materials, cleaning supplies, and personal protection equipment.

While anyone can donate, The Collab Spot encouraged white folks and organizations who say they align with the values and work The Collab Spot champions to help contribute to funding the creation of the coworking space.

Not only does The Collab Spot serve as a coworking space with the focus on the support and advocacy of the queer BIPOC communities, it also intends to be the go-to communal space for social justice-focused programming, community resourcing needs, social events, and more. 

As with many establishments, the COVID-19 pandemic has limited their operations thus far. However, The Collab Spot plans to hold virtual events for the time being, and will have limited physical capacity at its building for co-working activities. 

Eventually, The Collab Spot plans to operate fully as a community hub in a post-pandemic world. It also has plans to collaborate with urban gardening organizations and create a community garden at the space.

“We hope to have a resource area in the space, where folks can come in, use a laptop to print out some work, or come in and grab a cup of coffee and buy a local book that we have for sale,” said Taneasha White, co-director of collaborations.

What the partners want most for the Collab Spot is for it to be a safe space to just come as you are.

“This is really going to be a space of safe haven for Black and Brown folk, for BIPOC folks,” said Korantemah Pierce Williams, co-partner of The Collab Spot. “It’s so important that we have space to just be.”

Top Image via The Collab Spot/Facebook 

David Tran

David Tran

David Tran is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University studying Print/Online Journalism. When he is not working on a story, he can be found trying out new vegan recipes or catching up on some readings.

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