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A SPACE4 internship

15 Jun 2021

Hi, I’m Tom. In-between university semesters, I’m interning at SPACE4 for a couple of months. I want to engage with local communities in Islington and learn about the organisation of the cooperative model, how cooperatives may engage with interest groups, and its potential for local and wider change.

Tom Davies Intern

Having first engaged with the idea of cooperatives from a political point of view, which I’ve tried to pursue while doing political studies at university, this internship is my opportunity to learn in practice. I approached SPACE4 because I had already worked on a project with them when I worked for a private company that was attempting to improve its ethical rating and engagement with the local community, so I was already comfortable working with them and sure that I would be working in a great team.

 

I knew that I’d be doing plenty of doing.

 

I’ve just spent my first day at SPACE4, where I was well welcomed and given the first taste of my responsibilities. Walking into the SPACE4 workspace, I was greeted by Polly and Maddy. We immediately set-about discussing what I could do. Meanwhile we made coffee in the kitchen, which we would then take with some croissants to a private table. This gave me a first clear glimpse of the Space 4 ecosystem. The kitchen was clean, and we made sure it remained that way. Needless to say, the kitchen remained clean throughout the day as users made sure it was well maintained.

 

Discussing my possible roles, Polly and Maddy took the time to listen to what I would want to do and how I would feel useful. This manifested itself in a list of tasks for me to complete, using the task-managing tool ‘Trello’, which permits communication as they can see my progress with tasks and answer my questions. The tasks were mine to take-on, and I was told that I would have the freedom to choose the best times for me to do them.

 

We would continue talking in the afternoon, and in the meantime I was invited to attend a working group meeting. The working group was tasked with considering moving SPACE4 to become a separate legal entity from Outlandish. The working group consisted of members of SPACE4 and other users of the workspace. I wasn’t the only new person, and this, along with the check-ins and warm welcomes from team-members, allowed me to feel at ease.

 Tom Davie Intern in circle meeting

Continuing our discussion after lunch, we agreed that it would be best for me to work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Taking the first two years of my bachelors in Dijon, France, and therefore wanting to spend the summer to further work on my French language proficiency for my second year, this arrangement really works for me, because it allows me the time to study and work on other commitments at other points during the week.

 

My first priorities, however, are to learn about the cooperative model, how we at SPACE4 may benefit the local community, commit myself to try to help put all of this into action; and then hopefully glean greater knowledge of a reproducible model that does well for all interest groups.

 

Utopian ideas of how cooperatives may bring a new community-orientated, non-exploitative and fair economy, without the bureaucracy which is usually juxtaposed as the only alternative to unrestricted capitalism, have fascinated me as I’ve thought about politics, reading books among the little available literature, such as Envisioning Real Utopias by Erik Olin Wright, as well as engaging with other groups such as the Transition Town Movement. Therefore finding working models that engage with such issues is of great importance to me, which is why I find SPACE4’s specific concern with these issues particularly fascinating. 

 

This enthusiasm has certainly been sustained after today.