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Coworking trend lands in Petaluma

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The coworking movement, a growing national trend of independent contractors sharing communal office space, is gaining steam in Petaluma, marked by the unveiling of Keller Street CoWork, which opens its doors on Monday.

It’s the second cowork space to make its home in downtown Petaluma, offering freelancers, entrepreneurs and stay-at-home professionals an energizing alternative to traditional offices with lengthy commutes or distracting, cluttered home offices.

Keller Street CoWork spans more than 9,000 square feet and has six offices and eight dedicated desks – part of 103 total spaces available to rent.

Community director Danielle Stroble and Christine Walker, brand ambassador and founder of The Design Guild, champion the elements of the cowork space that foster creativity, ingenuity and collaboration.

During a tour earlier this week, they highlighted things like the elevation changes in the seating and different initiatives to encourage members to step outside their comfort zones and embrace a whimsical moment of expression that might lead to a breakthrough.

The two women are hoping their space will invite professionals from all industries and, based on some of the early signups, which range from the tech industry to plumbers, that’s becoming a reality.

“That is the fundamental thing we’re trying to do,” Stroble said. “Bring everybody from every field into the same space and realize that we can all get something from (not just) our own work, but the work of everyone else as well.”

The space boasts a series of wall-sized windows facing Keller Street that illuminate the open floor plan with engaging natural light. Under the direction of The Design Guild and American National Investments, which funded the office, the interior design was handled by Urban Chalet and Sons of Salvage.

“What we’ve done really well is taken Petaluma and kind of incorporated it into this space while still making it feel very clean and vibrant,” Stroble said. “Every person that has walked through the door — this is my most proud thing — has walked around the corner and said, ‘Oh my gosh, this place feels so amazing. It feels good.’ It makes you want to sit, it makes you want to smile.”

Keller Street CoWork can hang its hat on the well-thought host of amenities.

The building houses a sprawling photo and video studio, fully-loaded with state-of-the-art equipment, which can be rented by the hour, day or month. There are multiple conference rooms available and various lounges meant for both working and relaxing. Next to the fully-stocked community kitchen area are three soundproof booths. The entire basement floor is lined with 19 storage units.

“When you work freelance, you don’t have access to the same kind of resources as you would in a big agency,” Walker said.

Eventually the cowork space will offer classes, workshops and various events. They’ll be targeted to youth, adults and even business owners that want to take control of their branding and social media by improving their photography skills, for example.

Keller Street CoWork’s arrival in Petaluma is more evidence of the booming popularity of these innovative hives. According to the 2018 Global Coworking Survey, an estimated 1.7 million people will be working in some 19,000 spaces around the world by the end of the year. Almost 30 percent of those were opened in the last year alone, and one out of four has 150 or more members.

“It’s a global movement right now, and it’s growing exponentially,” said Stroble. “It’s a place to put your body, and share energy and space with other people.”

Keller Street CoWork is holding an opening celebration with drink tastings, food and activities on Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m.

(Contact News Editor Yousef Baig at yousef.baig@arguscourier.com or 776-8461, and on Twitter @YousefBaig.)