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It’s easy to forget the Jelly’s roots when you take a glimpse at the Jellyweek Google map registry. From its humble origins as an impromptu meet-up around a bowl of jelly beans, the Jelly has grown not only into a week-long festival, but has just under 200 events listed across every continent - minus the poles (but hey, there is still Frozen Jelly a few days later). Worldwide Jellyweek runs from the 16th to the 22nd of January. Over the seven days, a diverse range of events have been organised in a diverse range of spaces, all underpinned by the notions of community and collaboration.
By Anna Cashman - Thursday, 12 January 2012

The philosophy of Jelly naturally goes hand in hand with the coworking ethos, and so many coworking spaces around the globe have organised an event or programme as part of Jellyweek. As well as coworking spaces, other community-oriented spaces are also taking part. Organiser and instigator Anni Roolf feels that Worldwide Jellyweek presents an extraordinary chance for coworking spaces to branch out, evolve and make new connections.

To date, already 203 events have been registered

For Anni, Worldwide Jellyweek is a complex event, comprising of a multitude of networks and communities geared towards collaboration. By fostering networks and international relationships, Jellyweek has the potential to enrich coworking culture by creating different roles that are otherwise underrepresented in coworking circles.

To date, the coworking dynamic is made up of a binary relationship, consisting of the coworking space operator and the coworker. But there are other roles that can be created. "I am not a coworking space owner – I’m a network freak," Anni said, "So it could be that there are different roles that come out of this, like a coworking networker, or coworking coach, or community manager… by bringing new networks into the discussion, we open up the possibility for these new roles to be created."

The internationality of the event also allows networks in regions which aren’t as advanced in the coworking realm to join in discussion and make meaningful ties. "Africa, for example is not so present [in coworking discussions]. Jellyweek will hopefully allow the development of different and interesting networks from around the world."

As an ambitious effort to maximise Jellyweek’s potential as a catalyst for new relationships and networking, Anni and her coordinting partner Willi Schroll have set up a partnership initiative. It is designed to allow Jellyweek participants to choose a partner from the list of hosts and inform them via an online questionnaire what they want from a partnership, and how they hope to cultivate it during the week.

The possibility of creating new networks is tremendous, the range of events vast, the potential for coworking phenomenal. To inform about all events and locations, Anni and Willi also created an overview in a list. However, to cover all events in one article is simply impossible. So instead, here is a cross-section of the Jellyweek happenings.

Almaty, Kazakhstan

Boris of Battler Social Club has organised a Friday evening of entertainment, inviting local music groups, dance performers, and artists to strut their stuff. The following day, he plans to open up the space for locals to test-run the idea of coworking. The emphasis of his Jellyweek preparations is ‘giving something back to his community’: Boris opened the Battler Social Club last October, and already he is having to turn eager individuals away.

At the moment, Battler Social Club is more a place for workshops and a creative space where locals can congregate, and the coworking element is still being developed. The Jellyweek activities will hopefully serve to introduce a wide number of people to the new work trend. His Jellyweek banner has been attracting quite a bit of attention, and he expects a good turnout. ‘The events will help promote the space, and hopefully serve to break in the concept of coworking.’

Athens, Greece

“Coworking is art of cocreation and this is what the Worldwide Jellyweek stands for.” - Loft2work.

As a partner of Loft2Work and a European ambassador for Jellyweek 2012, Konstantina Zoehrer has helped Jellyweek in Greece evolve into a truly open initiative, involving coworking spaces, not-for-profit organisations and social and community bodies alike.

For Jellyweek 2012, Loft2Work have partnered with People & Ideas and The Art of Living, two non-government organisations, to create a 5-day programme with a human-centric and entrepreneurial theme. The daily workshops will focus on personal skill development and promote the social and human side of coworking by exploring topics such as ability spotting, the ‘individual’ as an ‘enterprise’, work-life balance, and shared creativity and innovation.

‘We’re in a crisis at the moment; people are scared. Our aim with these workshops is to communicate to people that they don’t need to be afraid, that there is a community, and if people work together, something positive will come from it. This is the message behind Jellyweek in Greece.’

Avondale, United States

Gangplank Avondale is a collaborative workspace trading in social capital. Or at least it will be, once it has found a space. That doesn’t mean that collaboration can’t still happen though: Gangplank is using Jellyweek to brainstorm the future and potential of the space amongst its members, and hopefully spread interest in the meantime. Co-director of operations Crissy Saint hopes the event on the 17th will pose as an opportunity to discuss different coworking spaces and collaborative workplace models around the world to see what’s working for them, and ultimately look at what Gangplank can build on for its own opening.

‘Jellyweek is really a great event for us because we’re trying to introduce people who live in our region to the idea of Gangplank and let them explore what it is, but also to explore what kinds of collaborative and coworking spaces there are around the world and to see what’s working for them, what we can build on, what we’d like to see happen here.’

The discussions will be live-tweeted and there are plans to live-stream the event with the hope of connecting with other participants around the world. The key to the success of this event is collaboration, which is at the heart of the Gankplank philosophy.

Auckland, New Zealand

Also in the spirit of collaboration, The Biz Dojo coworking space is using Jellyweek to promote meaningful trade relationships between coworking spaces and creatives worldwide. Co-founder Nick Shewring hopes to set up international partnerships to drive coworker collaboration on projects, through which The Biz Dojo and spaces abroad will work together to connect coworkers in their respective locations:

"We’re trying to create opportunities for these guys to partner together on projects. We want to step up Skype meetings to talk about projects that one of their residents is working on, or get their residents to present a project via video at least once a month. We want it to be something that’s ongoing, not just for a week or a day."

Aside from the partnership initiative, The Biz Dojo will open its doors to everyone in their local community, not so much to introduce them to the concept of coworking, but to introduce them to the internationality and scope of Jellyweek. Throughout the week, events from all around the world will be streamed on their screens, with video feeds and discussions serving to develop connections between residents.

Santiago de Chile

La Universidad Internacional de Verano is an institution focused on the audio-visual communication of the consequences of climate change and the achievement of sustainable development.

For the duration of Jellyweek, the university is leading an open house discussion on social media platforms about these issues. The aim is to invite people from all over the world to join in creating a collaborative story about climate change and sustainable development, starting on Monday 16th, and continuing until Friday 20th.

For five days, an international environmental story will unfold on Facebook and Twitter, which will then be presented on Saturday 21st in Santiago. To get involved via Twitter, use both the #JELLYWEEK and #U12 hashtags.

Berlin, Germany

Here in Berlin our sister site Deskwanted has its own event planned. Deskwanted will invite a number of startups to the YIN Lab for a usability fix evening - in the collaborative way. Get a pizza and play with websites. Startups will have the opportunity to try out their product on impartial testers in order to get feedback on how user friendly their product is and, ultimately, to help improve their usability. This will take place during an evening of pizza and general techy merriment. If you’re in Berlin and would like to get involved, send us a request here - but be quick. We only have enough room for a handful of startups! You can also drop in and work in our collaborative workspace during this day for free! Just This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you would like to visit. This workspace will also be opened as regular coworking space a few weeks later.

Happy Worldwide Jellyweek 2012! Let’s get connected!

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