Fort Greene Commins founder Sam Utne promotes neighborhood, community and productivity with his new co-working model.
After years of commuting and looking for the perfect co-working space, Sam Utne decided to take matters into his own hands. In September 2017, Utne founded Fort Greene Commins, a partnership with local restaurants that provides quiet daytime workspace for individuals in the Fort Greene area.
“Part of the reason I started this is because it fulfills my own need,” Utne said. “I used to do a lot of work at home and I couldn’t do work when I could see the refrigerator from where I was sitting.”
While there are co-working spaces throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, Utne’s co-working model is unique as it aims to replace the isolation that often accompanies freelance work and working from home with a workspace that encourages community and a stronger neighborhood. He noticed that people were commuting to community and he wanted to provide a local space that fulfills that need.
“People wanted a place to work and people were starving for community,” he said
But Utne not only offers a quiet workspace for neighbors; he also organizes happy hours and other social events (like calligraphy and book clubs) for members in hopes to foster a closer-knit Fort Greene community.
Moreover, he wanted to create a model that was beneficial for all parties involved, including small neighborhood businesses. He noted that Fort Greene’s cafes are “bursting at the seams” while restaurants remain empty all day. So, he has partnered with those restaurants, providing lunch revenue for local businesses throughout Fort Greene.
“I’m interested in services that meet the needs of the community and help create a local economy,” Utne said.
Fort Greene Commins is not the first co-working model Utne has managed; he has worked with more traditional co-working spaces in the city, including a space called Impact Hub in Tribeca. But he has lived in Fort Greene for ten years now and thinks it’s time to bring community home.
Utne’s co-working model is a membership-based service which costs $95/month, but he offers a pay-as-you-wish rate for individuals who have lived in Fort Greene for over 20 years. “I just want to bring neighbors together,” he said.
Fort Greene Commins has grown significantly since its founding in September; Utne hopes this growth will continue so he can support local businesses and neighbors to create a smart economy and close-knit community.