Rebirth of the Sackville Commons

I worked on the notion of a work/environmental commons for our community for about two years, but after raising about $200,000 to construct a new building, matching funds from the provincial and federal governments (originally promised) never materialized. I ran out of steam and parked the idea.

This was my rationale for a work commons two years ago and it hasn’t changed:

For a community to thrive in the Internet Age, it must be attractive to knowledge workers. These workers need to be connected to other knowledge workers so that they can remain creative. They need to have constant access to fresh ideas. One way to attract knowledge workers is to offer the right physical space and connections.

Secondly, many knowledge workers are not traditional salaried employees, they don’t need conventional office space. Many are starting to create their own alternative work and community spaces in cities such as London, Toronto, Vancouver and more locally – Charlottetown and Halifax. Several variants of Commons are being established all over the world.

The Commons will be our place that will help to build trusted relationships. It is a Third Space, being neither a dedicated office nor your home. Individuals will be paying members, but the cost of membership will be much less than renting a dedicated office.

Recently, a local landmark came under new ownership and we are currently discussing the possibilities of creating a work commons in the front of this 15,000 sq ft professional building. Both the 2nd and 3rd floors have about 2,000 sq ft each and depending on interest we may use both.


To find out if there is interest, we we will be holding an open house on Friday, December 18th from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM-ish. This is what we are proposing but we’re open to any and all possibilities:

  • We will create a non-profit organization to manage the Sackville Commons.
  • Membership will be a monthly fee, probably $50 per month with a one year contract.
  • Services offered will depend on interest and willingness to pay [here is a list of membership benefits from the QSC].
  • We are also looking into the possibility of offering shared art studio space if there is sufficient interest.
  • Membership will be for individuals only – one person, one membership.

Feel free to comment here or on Twitter to @hjarche or @harborne

Please join us at 131 Main Street, Sackville, NB (front door, across from the Mount Allison swan pond). [Parking in rear]

16 Responses to “Rebirth of the Sackville Commons”

  1. graham watt

    You’re a tenacious man, Harold, and it has paid off as the building is very attractive, and the location could not be better. Best of luck!

  2. Kent Coates

    Sounds interesting Harold. Would members get a lockable drawer in a filing cabinet? What are the chances of having a warm place to vend vegetables during the winter? Thanks, good luck.

  3. Harold Jarche

    @Christopher yes, we should come up with a shorter Twitter hashtag – #sackcom maybe?

    @jevon thanks; we plan on visiting the QSC and getting ideas & advice from them.

    @kent – anything is possible, depending on our financial situation. Secure storage space would be something to look into. I think that selling produce would be a possibility, with Summer sales on the covered veranda.

  4. virginia Yonkers

    Harold, you might be interested in a model used by a museum in my area, MassMoCA. There were a group of struggling artists that wanted a place where they could show their art. They worked with the community and local businesses to bring both together. They help local artists by leasing studio space and showing their art. They also act as an incubator to small businesses by providing space and joint advertising, offering training and other support services. Although yours does not appear to be offering the arts, the model might work.

  5. Kevin Anderson

    Fantastic suggestion Harold, good luck! I see your stated rationale for a work commons is about knowledge workers…I think idea is interesting for other types of small business too, and look forward to coming on the 18th.

    • Harold Jarche

      The sky is the limit and it depends on who is is interested. Shared studio space is definitely a possibility. BTW, Kevin, you could be defined as being a knowledge worker too, as there’s lots of knowledge needed for your work. Please spread the word and let’s get as many people as possible to help us figure out what can work in our community.

      Virginia, thanks for the link.

  6. zach v

    hey Harold…congrats on the rebirth,…stubborn ex army guys!…I remember watching a Ted Talk about a guy (can’t remember his name now) who turned a similar space into a space to tutor kids after school…I’ll find the ted talk and post it…might be an opportunity to make something kewl happen..if that is indeed in the realm of “knowledge” worker…

  7. Bon

    is that the Eaton house?

    it’s a cool idea, as is the Eggers addendum. best of luck today. makes me wish i was back in Sackville.


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