An Intern’s Perspective
Written by Joseph Smith
The past two years in Jackson have seen significant changes: school board rulings have shifted the course of many children’s educational path; continuous commercial development on both the north and south sides of town have become a normality; two local universities have instituted new, community-minded leaders while a third has resurrected itself completely under a new name. theCO has advanced past its advent and experienced the lifecycle rhythms of most new small businesses during that time: uncomfortable growing pains that challenge that seemingly genius late-night idea, inspirational bursts interjected by new friends and customers, and the everyday grind that makes up what lies in between.
As an intern that has been here since the beginning, I have seen these rhythms assume a unique pattern that follows the somewhat progressive idea of a co-working space. At times Jackson has been slow to believe and buy into a place where community is both the input and the output. Participation is invited only before it’s implicitly required so that the cycle can continue, and people are not always quick to sign up for a service that asks for service. theCO has then been faced with a task of informing our town of a need while simultaneously collaborating with them to meet it, a balance that has taken time to find. But rather than constantly attempt to change the mission or how it is communicated, theCO has remained diligent in tending to the people who already make up the culture and their ideas that will grow it. I’ve witnessed those who have been members from day one welcome both help for their current projects and encouragement to begin new ones. Meetup and event attendees who may have involved themselves to learn more about a trade have left with co-conspirators and partners. When telling newcomers about what theCO has to offer, I often point to what is already happening and to the ones who are making it happen rather than plans to incorporate attractive amenities.
Ultimately theCO’s success can be attributed to Adam Smith’s idea of “The Invisible Hand,” where members who are actively working towards their passions and goals are the force that allows the community as a whole to move forward. Before finishing my time here I can only hope that this trend continues—that Jackson recognizes they have a part to play in actualizing local entrepreneurs’, artists’, craftsmen’s, and neighbors’ passions by pursuing
Intern, 2014 – 2016