News & Updates

🦠 Like the rest of Philly, our coworking space is temporarily closed due to COVID19.
Read more, and stay safe out there: https://indyhall.org/covid19

News & Updates

July 2020 Covid Update

First thing’s first: this important COVID update includes a short survey at the end, which I’d appreciate you taking a moment to answer!

We’re now more than a week into the “modified green” – the most confusingly named phase of Philly’s pandemic response.

Confusing because green typically suggests “good to go” while, in fact, the Coronavirus is still very much a risk for our city.

We are paying very close attention to widespread reopening activities, looking for clues of when and how it might become safe to reopen Indy Hall.

To make the decision to reopen, we’re considering a wide range of variables, including but not limited to:

  • City, State and CDC recommendations and info about how the virus is spread
  • Actions and decisions being taken in other industries with similar priorities
  • Unique factors of our building e.g. a closed ventilation system
  • Actions and inactions being taken by our building management to make our building safe
  • The stress associated with the risk of transmission within our space
  • The economics of safely operating a shared space in pandemic conditions

As Monday July 6th, we’re continuing to follow the guidelines and will keep our physical space closed. 
Our next reopening update will be in ~2 weeks.

The exception is that we are allowing access to the space on a case-by-case basis for members who really need to get out of the house for some reason, and even then we’re taking every precaution possible to reduce risk. If that’s you, email me and we can help.

How are YOU doing, really?

A coworking space is the least of my concerns, it’s each of you that I’m thinking about most. Because while we’re still living with so much uncertainty, one thing that we’re still sure of is that there’s always more we can do to support each other.

Although we see and talk with some of you online, there are lots of Indy Hall members and friends that we hear from less frequently.

And even when we do “see” each other online, we don’t always get a sense of what’s really going on in each other’s lives right now. Sometimes it can be tough to share openly, or ask for help.

So we’d like to get a sense of how you’re really doing with this quick 5 question survey.

👉 https://indyhall.typeform.com/to/Oc0YjChS 👈

With this short set of questions, we hope to find out a bit more about how you’re doing, what’s on your mind, and how you’re thinking about the present and future.

All of the answers are optional, and you can even answer anonymously if you prefer.

Thanks for taking a few minutes to let us know how you’re doing, and please, remember that you’re not alone in this alone! ❤️

View All Articles

Wanna make a difference and meet new people?

Hello, friends of the internet!

I wanted to extend a personal invitation to something special Indy Hall is hosting this Friday, and what I hope is a powerful community partnership with our friends at REC Philly

For the last couple of months, Indy Hall has been hosting an online version of our monthly open house event that we have affectionately dubbed “Open Hall.”

You can think of Open Hall @Home as sort of a “sampler” of short, scheduled opportunities to get together online in different ways. Nobody’s talking “at” you and it’s a bit more serendipitous than the most typical zoom events.

THIS FRIDAY, we’re hosting a special Open Hall in collaboration with and support of REC Philly to bridge our communities and support their Juneteenth “Black Joy Matters” musical showcase.

You can come to just one part, come to a few, or come to all of them. And then definitely join us for RECPhilly’s live concert in the evening!

If you’d like to attend – it’s free! – guests can RSVP here (Indy Hall members have a separate RSVP link, you should have already received that and sorry about the duplicate messages!)

Once you RSVP, you’ll find out more info about participation over the next couple of days. We also encourage you to share this event with any friends who might want to join in the fun.

But that’s not all – YOU can make a difference, even if you don’t come to Open Hall

When we talked to REC about this collaboration, one clear goal was to extend it beyond the one-day event. Their community is filled with amazing and talented creative entrepreneurs of all kinds – a lot like our community! – just with more emphasis on the music and the arts, and WAY more Black and brown folks 🙂

So we came up with two ways for our community to make a lasting difference, and we’re treating this Friday as a “kickoff.”

First: help us pledge 100 hours of expertise to supporting members of the REC Philly community

This isn’t structured teaching or even a formal “mentorship” arrangement (which can lead to weird expectations). It’s simply you offering some of your time and expertise to help one or more (predominantly Black and brown) member of REC Philly overcome some challenge in their business or career. It’s that simple, but it’s also super meaningful.

👉 So if you can pledge a even just 1-2 hours hours of your time fill out this quick (<5 minute) form to pledge some of your time. 

We’ll keep track of pledges and work with the REC team to link members with you, starting in July.

Second: Financially support an artist in need

REC is also launching a financial relief program to provide microgrants (usually ~$250-350) to working artists who are unable to perform due to COVID19and therefore struggling or unable to pay their bills.

I would love for our community to raise $1000 or more, which will help 3-4 artists.

Small contributions really matter to reaching a goal like this, so I’m going to personally match the first $250 in small (under $25) contributions until we reach $250, dollar for dollar. All contributions of all sizes will count towards the goal of $1000!

Note: this is NOT a tax-deductable contribution, it’s a gift.

👉 To keep this simple for REC and Indy Hall, I’m going to collect these donations with Venmo (@alexhillman), Square Cash ($alexhillman), or the card we have on file for your IH membership.

I’ll keep track of everything, share the totals, and make a single payment to REC! Just send me a message (alex@indyhall.org) when you send the payment (or want to charge your on-file card) and I’ll let you know when it’s done and marked down.

We’re going to keep both of these efforts going beyond Friday, BUT I’d love to show up for the REC community with a bang to start things off.

As always, lemme know if you have any questions or ideas for how to make this even better.

So, to recap:

Whew! Thanks for hanging in. Looking forward to spending some of Friday with you and seeing new friendships form 🙂

View All Articles

WTF is Yellow Phase, Philly?

Folks are asking when businesses they love and need are going to re-open, which I take a positive sign about things to come. But if you’re like me – a citizen or a business owner – and feel confused about what that Philly’s “Yellow Phase” actually means, you’re not alone.

In the last few days, dozens of people in our community and beyond have been asking, “how is this different from…whatever phase we’ve been in?”

My take? This phase system is confusing, deceptive, and missing a LOT of critical guidance. 

I’m gonna try to clear up the vague and confusing parts about the phases, and more specifically, share what it means for reopening Indy Hall’s coworking space. 

First: I am NOT a public health expert

I’m a citizen, a community member, and a business owner. 

I’ve had to do a lot of research on my own, including talks with public health experts in the region.

Every decision I’m making, and the information I’m sharing, is through the lens of health and safety; not just of our members, but of everyone who our contact may impact. 

There is also much to life outside of work. How we socialize, exercise, and even how we protest against racism and police violence in our country.

Pandemic precautions are important in these environments too, but this post’s particular take on “Yellow Phase” is focused on work.

If any public health or epidemiology folks can weigh in on my take here, I welcome more expert voices in this conversation. @ or DM me on twitter or email me directly.

Second: Public Health experts emphasize that there are no guarantees

Personally, this is the scariest part of this whole experience. You can do everything right and follow the guidelines to mitigate risk. But the phases and any guidance inside of them are just that…guidance. 

You must make your own decisions based on your personal situation, whether that is as a business owner or informed citizen. 

I’m not sugar-coating or fudging any of the recos I’ve received so far. 

As always, I’m optimizing for health and safety. 

Business can be rebuilt. Lives cannot.

So. Let’s talk Yellow Phase.

As we know, for the last 2.5 months, the Philadelphia region was in a state ordered “stay-at-home” to flatten the curve of virus transmission and avoid overwhelming our medical system. 

During the RED phase, only life-sustaining businesses could choose to be open, if they followed the necessary safety guidelines. 

During the YELLOW phase, more businesses and locations can choose to open while following these guidelines. But the city (and state and CDC) also strongly suggest to minimize contact however possible.

This choice also recommends changes that may need to be made to any shared environment, including reconfiguring the space to allow for physical distance and removing shared items. 

Personally, I find the guidelines to be frustratingly vague, and feel like we’re being forced across a chasm from heavy-handed government restrictions to “make your own call, just try not to kill anybody.” There are problems with both ends of the spectrum, but my real frustration is how unprepared the government has left us. 

So while specific applications of the guidelines vary depending on industry, every expert I’ve talked to agree on the same basic framework:

being indoors with other people… 
outside of your “regular group”… 
for extended extended periods of time…

..is still categorically medium to high risk and should be avoided whenever possible to avoid contracting the virus or asymptomatically spreading it to others.

So while Yellow Phase guidelines do allow businesses to reopen and some people to return to work, if your workplace means you will spend time indoors with people who are outside of your work/peer group, strong safety precautions are still necessary. 

Strong safety precautions include ensuring that everyone correctly uses PPE (non-medical face masks), along with distance and additional cleaning/sanitizing of hands and shared surfaces. People must stay home if they are not feeling well. 

The key here: your safety precautions are only as good as everyone in your group’s participation.


What is a “regular group”?

“Regular group” is relative and somewhat ambiguous, but I’m thinking about it as “circles of trust.” 

These circles consist of folks who you are already in contact with – people you live with, people you work with – who you have reason to trust are practicing good pandemic hygiene.

And remember, being high-risk isn’t just about age or ethnicity. You can’t always know who has a compromised or weakened immune system. Someone on your team or in your community could look perfectly healthy and be high risk for this virus. 

Or, since this is America, they could be uninsured. 


These decisions are still very, very hard

Like I said earlier, I’m frustrated that we are jumping from government-mandated decisions straight to “okay, now you try it” when lives are at stake.

The government isn’t any smarter than we are, but they have ~3 months of experience processing the information to at least try to understand the risks. 

Now we are allowed to make those decisions ourselves…but in an environment where so many people are either confused about or downright disagree on what information is relevant, or truthful. 

This is a mess, and I’m stressed the fuck out. 

Since the government guidelines treat large sweeping business categories as the same when their risk factors vary widely down to the individual business or environment, I’m working on a draft of a “risk matrix” type tool to help people (business owners, workers, and customers) make more informed choices about reopening offices and returning to work. 

Even with that…this situation still sucks. Folks think “green phase” is going to be a return to normal, which it isn’t. We’re going to have to work together to figure this out and keep our communities and neighbors safe, especially those who are most vulnerable or disproportionately impacted by the virus. 


Again, if any public health or epidemiology folks can weigh in, I welcome more expert voices in this conversation. @ or DM me on twitter or email me directly

View All Articles

We must work to change the system

I shared this post with the Indy Hall community this morning. It is not perfect, but it is sincere.

In the hopes that it might help others take action, I’ve decided to share it. ❤️


For the last several days I’ve been unsure what to write, or even if I should, but silence is in part how we got here. So I will speak only for myself, but hopefully, with thoughts and feelings and actions that others in our community share in solidarity.

Ahead of everything else, I want to acknowledge and address the pain and sadness and anger that many people are feeling, not just over the last week but for much much longer. I see that you are hurt and angry, and I’m here for you. More than anything, I’m listening and prepared to help.

I’ll echo something that I shared early in the pandemic that informed our choice to temporarily close our coworking space even before it was mandated:

Buildings and businesses can be rebuilt. Human lives cannot.

For white people like me, the damage on the streets hurts in part because it feels “close to home.” It feels like something we solve quickly, by assisting with cleanup or contributing to a business recovery fund.

But for Black people in our community, “close to home” is a clip showing a person who looks like them (or their parent or sibling or child or cousin or friend) being murdered by a cop. And for that, there is no cleanup or business recovery fund…only a justice system that does not deal fair penalties.

This system should not exist, but it does, and was built this way.

I believe that Black lives matter, and that “not being racist” is still too passive a stance to take. In order to truly believe and live the virtues and values of Indy Hall, it is a moral imperative that we work actively to end racism.

(Sidenote: upon re-reading those virtues and values, some omissions are glaring, or critically unfulfilled. More on that below.)

Feeling more compelled to clean the streets after the riots than to do something serious (let alone anything) about the system that incited the riot in the first place…that is the problem our Black friends and neighbors are facing.

So I am choosing to be anti-racist: to work as hard as I can to confront and fight against that system, and always remember that it is the reason behind the peaceful protests that began yesterday.

Through this view, it becomes maddening that the damaged buildings and businesses are getting more attention than the message of the protests. Damage to our city could have been avoided by having a system that supports and protects Black people instead of one that kills them.

Yes, I will allow myself a moment to be saddened by the physical damage to parts of the city I love. But I will stay focused on the reasons that the protests are happening in the first place instead. I love our whole city, and I want our whole city to be better for everyone in it.

Our Indy Hall community is also a system. We aim to encourage and inspire each other to be the best versions of each other and to put the best of ourselves out into the world. We solve problems and we do it together. In theory, our system should be able to confront this problem.

But our community’s system needs work, too. Not gonna mince words here: our membership is overwhelmingly white in a city whose population is not. No matter how good our intentions of being welcoming to all, something is off here and I know we can do better.

To spark your ideas and commitments, I’ll lead with my own.

Not being “together” due to the pandemic makes this whole thing even harder, but I believe it is both possible and necessary, and anti-racism will need to continue long beyond a coronavirus vaccine.

I’m not sure exactly what that work looks like, but I want to hear your ideas and your commitments. Here are some of mine:

  • To listen more than I talk (does that make this post ironic? maybe), and to better use my platforms to create space for more voices that need to be heard.
  • To educate myself, and to actively find and follow voices of people who are different from me so I can listen and seek to understand. The anti-racism guides linked below have been significantly helpful, and come highly recommended by a lot of the black voices that I follow and learn from. If you have resources that you have found helpful, I would welcome their addition.
  • To give people grace and offer support to find their own understanding, rather than attempt to convince them or bludgeon them with facts. This takes time, and is uncomfortable. But avoiding it isn’t an option.
  • To find ways to use my voice and platform for good here at home in Philadelphia, my home. To get involved in direct and collective action to change laws and policy while keeping Black voices centered, and in particular to ask community leaders and activists questions like “how can I help you?” and “where is my influence, whatever it may be, most useful?” I know I need guidance on this, so suggestions are welcome.

This list alone isn’t everything. But it’s laying the groundwork for more concrete actions now and choosing better actions going forward.

For people who are seeking out ways to educate yourselves, and to make a difference today, I have listed some resources below that others have shared with me.

For those of you and those you love who are hurting right now, please know that I am here however you need. I will listen, and do the work.

And I know I’m not the only one in the Indy Hall community who feels this way.

We are, and can be, and will be, a part of creating a better system.

We must be. Black Lives Matter.

I love you all very much. I support you. My phone is on if you need something, or just want to talk and have someone listen.

Alex

P.S. If you’d find it helpful to have a space to process your thoughts and feelings, starting this week I’m facilitating weekly “Red/Yellow/Green” sessions on Wednesdays at 12pm and this week, I’ll host an additional one on Monday at 5pm. You’re welcome to sit in silently or participate actively, however is useful for you.

Resources to educate yourself

Immediate Actions

Neither of these actions are enough on their own, but they are necessary and useful.


Special thank you to the community members who reviewed this for clarity and contributed resources, especially Black friends who have gone above and beyond to guide me. I’m forever grateful.

View All Articles

Feeling confused or overwhelmed by all this online stuff?

We know remote tools are new for a lot of people, and we don’t want anyone to feel left out if you’re not familiar. 

There is a wide range of people who join our Indy Hall community. Some people – especially those of you on remote teams – are already very familiar with popular tech tools like Slack and Zoom. (Also, what a silly bunch of names these apps have!) We’re learning new things from those folks all the time.

However now is a good time for us ALL to remember that not everyone’s used to, or comfortable, with video chat. Learning new tools can be confusing and frustrating. 

With that in mind, we’ve compiled some info that we hope will help you engage with online experiences, whether that’s with Indy Hall or off in the world wide web!

Here are two tools that Indy Hall is using a LOT and what they are:

Zoom is kinda like facetime but WAY more powerful and supports groups better. It works really well on Apple and Windows computers, and even on mobile phones (iOS and Android). It’s free to install https://zoom.us/download

Once Zoom is installed, following any Zoom link on that device (computer or mobile) will automatically take you to the correct group video chat. (Some chats require passwords, so if you aren’t sure message the host ahead of time. They’ll probably make sure you have the password if it’s necessary)

Slack is a text chat tool, so it’s a bit like texting BUT has different rooms to organize conversations (and people) into interests, topics, and kinds of conversations. It’s great for sharing links, asking quick questions, and friendly banter. 

We do have and use other tools, but these two are going to be the MOST IMPORTANT (besides email) over the coming weeks. 


These are some of the most valuable and popular channels to join!

💪 Indyskills

One of the best parts of our community is being able to get help when you are stuck on a question or problem, or want to learn about almost anything. In the #indyskills channel, you almost always find someone in the community who can help! 

Tip: Post here whenever you want help learning something new (or when you learn something that you want to share). 

✅ Daily Goals

Feeling unproductive? WHO ISN’T right now. If it’s helpful, this channel is a place to share your daily goals, be kind and encouraging to each other, and help each other be accountable. #1 rule of #dailygoals is “don’t be afraid to ask for help”

Tip: Check out this page for some member-suggested guidance on getting the most from this channel.

☀️ Brightside

Need a break from bad news? Share something, anything, that makes you feel delight. Though this channel is one of the newest to be added to our Slack, it’s quickly become one of the most active (and necessary) resources for much-needed relief. One of our amazing members made this room to share “an escape from the worries of the world”, and every little post of optimism and happiness does just that.

All of these rooms (and many more) are available in our members-only Slack “workspace”. If you don’t have access to Indy Hall’s Slack (or can’t remember how to get in) send us an email and we’ll help out!


We hope these notes are helpful and empowering. We invite you to join us, (test your new skills!)

Whether you want to dip your toe or dive right in. We’re here to help any way we can. ❤️

Have other netiquette suggestions? We’d love to hear them! Email us at team@indyhall.org

View All Articles