Imagine a gathering place for people to come together, create, teach, learn and make new connections … for free. Established in the summer of 2013 and inspired by the National Day of Civic Hacking, [freespace] came to life when a building was gifted to the community for a whopping, well, $1. Now with over 300 free events hosted [freespace] has seen culturally, professionally and economically-diverse people who collaborate for a variety of projects.
Given the unique nature of this startup, we thought it would be great to delve deeper and interview one of the minds behind the [freespace] movement. Meet Lucas Royland. Lucas is a seasoned professional in the startup industry. He has co-founded White Glove Apps, was CTO and co-founder of Asseta, CTO of The Counterpoint and currently invests his time for [freespace] software development.
Lucas graciously accepted our request for a short interview and agreed to meet us at one of their [freespace] buildings. He took us on a tour of the tri-level building. The basement, dimly-lit with murals all over is spacious enough to host an underground event or film an independent flick scene. A bit of a trivia from Lucas, it used to be a factory that produces bodices for pregnant women. Yep, bodices for pregnant women. As if the space wasn’t eerily mysterious enough, now we’re also thinking about the collective sounds of sewing machines and 50s women at work. The ground floor which also serves as the reception/sign-up area is stacked with bikes, painting equipment a bunch of other creative materials. Up front, is a woman and her child on a table teaching strangers how to paint. The top floor is a bit less crowded with materials. There were 2 beds, a loveseat and possibly a couple of couches. I’ll think of this area as best for lounging.
On to the interview which was done around the Market St area as Lucas is also pointing out surrounding businesses that they are connected or partnered with.
What is [freespace] in a nutshell?
[freespace] is a social experiment on engaging communities to collaborate. It’s more like a co-working space but is absolutely free to use.
Are there any exceptions or events you’ll refuse to host?
Events where there’s a charge or payment for admission.
If you were to have a home this very instant, no other factors but the geographical location to consider, where would it be and why?
The Richmond where I currently live. It’s relatively safe and it’s managed to keep the old SF community feel to it.
What’s your favorite SF neighborhood?
The Richmond, The Haight, The Mission. Basically, anywhere where that has the old San Francisco charm.
So you really like the “old SF/Victorian homes” vibe. On another note, what do you think of San Francisco’s current luxury market?
It’s definitely changed because of the current tech hub-status of the Bay. There’s a lot of high rises and new developments now.
How do you see SF in 5 years? Housing, gentrification, etc
I don’t see much changing. Startup Investors are getting smarter. They’re not funding every single fresh-out-college startup that’s out there. I think these kids, without the funding, will be less likely to find their own apartment in the city. They may economically choose to just live where they are right now – even at their parents’ homes- until their startup actually flourishes.
Our time was up since Lucas had calls to take. What a very pleasant experience meeting him. With a lot of professionals whose sole goal is to get that 6+ figure salary, here’s a very talented and smart individual investing his skills and know-how to help his community. Check out [freespace] below.