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Live.November 15, 2017
By Renee Martyna

Renee Martyna is the co-owner and program curator at Hubud.

Have you ever wondered what kind of people were crazy enough to be the first to open a coworking space in Ubud — the arts, meditation and culinary capital of Bali?

Maybe you don’t. But I do, all the time.

I was part of the three founding families, and believe me, the idea wasn’t selling well at first. There are days when I still marvel at what the community collectively managed at Hubud when so many people balked at the idea of opening a ‘business’ space in Ubud.

Jakarta or Seminyak, maybe. But UBUD? Who comes to do work in Ubud?

Over 6,000 people from 80 different countries, as it turns out. And the best part is that these are not your average tourists. They stay longer and spend differently, they love Bali and have learned so much from the way of life here. Many credit the community, and the island, for entirely shifting the way they live and work.

At least that’s what they tell me.

But here’s the thing: even though the founding families were nervous on opening day, we always knew in our gut that Ubud was the perfect place for pulling a coworking community off.

We knew this because WE wanted to do business here. We wanted to change, and be changed, through our work. And we wanted a bunch of cool people to connect with and learn from while doing it.

We were scratching our own itch.

Steve and I were burnt out Aid workers who came to Bali to recover from the bureaucracy of the United Nations (cue images of paperwork, politics and professional pigeon holes here). That experience profoundly scarred our sense of what changing the world looked like. But it didn’t entirely defeat us. We just needed a reframe. We longed for the nimbleness, creativity, and innovation of a more traditional business atmosphere. But we couldn’t see ourselves being conventional entrepreneurs, putting profit ahead of everything else. Our social justice hearts were still pumping strong. We needed something somewhere in the middle.

After meeting a continuous stream of proactive people at the Green School in Bali, it struck us: these are the kinds of people who might do business very differently if they could. What would happen if we put them all in a space together? What would they pull off?

Equally interesting was what UBUD itself would do to the business paradigm. With all the consciousness and creativity that people get with yoga, meditation, healthy foods and the natural atmosphere here, what would ‘doing business’ look like on the island of the Gods?

So we took business out of the high rise and put it in a bamboo hut. We swapped food courts for healthy, organic, locally inspired food. We encouraged people to discover their gifts and give them away (which is why we had 430 learning events last year alone, most of them free). We cultivated an atmosphere of celebrating our failures (if you haven’t already, check-out F*ck-up nights, it’s a laugh like no other). We encouraged people to trade knowledge with local community actors by cogiving. We share. And together, we built Hubud with the constant help of our community.

In the meantime, we also discovered whole new worlds of social enterprise, innovation and a global community of coworking spaces which also want to shift some old paradigms. Through Hubud, CAAP (the Coworking Alliance of Asia Pacific) and CUAsia (Coworking Unconforence Asia) we continue to welcome people from all around the world who want to live, work, and learn differently, and who inspire us every day.

It wasn’t easy, of course, because let’s face it, when you are doing something new you never feel like you know what you are doing. But it was worth it. Finally, we have a place where we belong.

And if you want to put people, passion, and purpose on par with profit, or you are looking for a new paradigm, you should join us.

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