If you’re familiar with Plywood People, then you know their mission revolves around community. They strive to bring together the activists, creatives, and entrepreneurs that will fix, foster and build our Atlanta community. It starts with curating and implementing their ideas, visions, and services. While Atlanta is the heart of the community they effect, where do Plywood People go to inspire their visions? Simple: Plywood Place.
Nestled between DeKalb Ave and Memorial Drive is Plywood People’s Headquarters. It’s also a co-working location where local creatives and entrepreneurs can apply for office space. It provides the conveniences of conference rooms and internet connections, but most importantly it facilitates collaboration and cross-pollination amongst Atlanta’s doers.
We connected with founder, Jeff Shinabarger to tour the space. Come check out the view.
YBN: What’s the benefit of a place like Plywood Place for those who work here?
PP: Community and “connectedness” are strong values for us and our organization. Being in this new space allows for people who are leading organizations with a team of one or two to come together with others and become a team of 20. In our space we often collaborate on problems, gain wisdom from others, and help each other set/achieve goals. Some of the people in our space have said that they have accomplished more in one week at Plywood Place than they would have accomplished in several months working from home alone.
Downstairs, the overall space is open, allowing for collaboration and community support/conversation. There are three open area seating areas where artists are encouraged to lounge and work. It’s also provided as an alternative to their desks when they need a new atmosphere to brainstorm or relax.
YBN: How much did you change the interior of the space before moving in?
PP: To be quite honest, we did very little to the space. It is amazing what a good deep cleaning and a fresh coat of paint can do. The only renovations that we did were intentional to co-working.
YBN: Now that it’s being utilized, what’s working best in the space?
PP: B-10 Union, who are one of the tenants in Plywood Place, built two matching laptop bars and a 10 foot conference table. Both of these builds were intended to be places for people to gather, work, and collaborate together. They get lots of use!
YBN: Who are some of the companies, initiatives that are currently working here and how do you go about selecting who is a part of the space?
PP:We have great diversity in the companies/ organizations that are represented in Plywood Place. Here are the people who are with us:
Heartland Initiative – Working w/ nationals in Israel/Palestine to solve issues from within.
Kula Project – Training and Equipping Coffee Farmers in Rwanda.
Break Into Business - Entrepreneurial Camps for Kids
Hayley Jo Photography – Newborn Family Photography with a Give Back Program.
Lalabu- Soothe Shirt for Mothers of Newborns
Ali Makes Things- Art Subscription
B-10 Union – Woodworking Co-op
Story Cartel – Helping Authors get reviews and readers
Gym Condition – Training Trainers in Fitness
Wash Me Fast – Carwash with Give Back Program
YBN: How do you define community? What’s the biggest way one individual can contribute to their community?
PP: Community to me is the idea of people coming together to solve the same problem (a broken world system) through different means. Like plywood is used as a common material in many renovations, our commonality is found in the fact that people in the PLYWOOD community want to solve problems. How can someone contribute to their community? Stop, Look, Listen, and Step out. Much like we learned how to cross the street safely as a child, we can learn a lot about the needs around us if we just take the time to stop, look around us, listen to those in our neighborhood, and step out to try to be the start of a solution to what breaks our hearts.
YBN: What do you want the Atlanta community to think of when they think of Plywood Place?
PP: The phrase that we are most known for is “We will be known by the problems we solve.” This is significant because we want our community to be known by the fact that we are recognizing and solving problems.
People can come and work for a day in our office, but not everyone can connect to Plywood People in this way. But, the best way to begin getting connected is through our conference Plywood Presents. This happens every year in August. This year it is August 19-20 at the Tabernacle. We expect 850+ entrepreneurs to join us this year. You can find out more and register at www.plywoodpresents.com.
Erika Burns is a Cultural Editor for You’ve Been Noted. (story + interview)
Lacey Sombar is a Photographer for You’ve Been Noted. (photos)