Non profit, Sierra Shared Spaces holds forum

Justin Powers, founder of Sierra Shared Spaces and Ashley Proctor pioneer of the cowork movement

Photos and Story by Catherine Stachowiak 

The nonprofit Sierra Shared Spaces held a forum for community input, Saturday April 27, at 178 Bar and Grill, during which its founders sought ideas for a community hub the group plans to build in Lake Isabella. 

Disproving rumors, organization founder Justin Powers was not asking for funding, during this event. The event was free of charge to participants along with a free buffet dinner.

Local Chris Zuber opened the event talking about the ways Justin Powers helped the community in the past, during the Erskine Fire, and how Powers has had a heart for the valley, which previously included Powers’ founding of Kernville Cowork. 

Zuber said, “As you may know we did run for Whiskey Flat Days Mayor (as) Powder Packin’ Powers (and) Mad Miner Zuber. We have had some success in that. And this is connected to our fundraising goal in that.”  Zuber has worked with Powers in the Kernville Cowork for about five years and said he has seen firsthand what a shared space can bring to the community, especially the economic opportunity it brings.

Powers told those attending the event that he is a longtime resident of the valley, a seventh generation family member, who grew up in the valley, then moved to and worked in Sacramento, before he returned to the Kern Valley to work remotely. He’s seen the impact the cowork movement could have upon a community since he began Kernville Cowork years ago. 

Powers introduced Ashley Proctor, a pioneer in the cowork movement, which is a global economic effort. Proctor is from Canada and lives in Washington State and travels to assist others in their coworking efforts, sharing best practices. She’s the founder of a consultancy called Creative Blueprint and the founder of a coworking insurance plan for independent workers in Canada. Through the Coworking Alliance Summit she and others share their best practices with those working on similar coworking projects.

Powers said Sierra Shared Spaces is a nonprofit, which belongs to the Kern Valley, born out of what his business was doing for years with Kernville Cowork.  He’s creating Sierra Shared Spaces to lift up the economically disadvantaged, for collaboration and connections. It would be a hub to create and sustain meaningful and sustainable career paths within the valley, expanding innovation and new ventures in the economic region.  

Powers and Proctor want to attain funding for a hub where the non profit can help the valley grow economically. However, they told visitors to the event, they would prefer to talk about what community members want for the valley before embarking on attaining funding, which they said they were confident is attainable. 

Powers told the Kern Valley Sun in a previous interview that the group wants to attain funding from sources, outside the valley, which the valley doesn’t normally rely on for funding, avoiding competition with other non profits in this community.  They also intend to hold other forums in the coming months.

Participants wrote, on slices of log, their favorite things about the valley. On snowball stickers participants wrote what they hope to see in the Sierra Shared Spaces, community hub.