It happens most weeks: I’m sitting in front of the monitor in my home office, tapping my fingers along the desk, and endeavoring to stay focused while writing a poem, a blog post or an upcoming speech. The moment my fingers touch the keyboard’s home keys, I’m distracted by Winston and Rosie’s paws tapping along the hardwood flooring towards me, nudging their noses on my leg in hopes that I’ll take them outside again. Or, I’ll catch a glimpse of the mountain of laundry (involving single socks I don’t even recognize) which I should sort, fold and carry upstairs. Once I see it, it’s all I can see. Because the laundry doesn’t disappear upon me wishing it away, and because I’ve yet to train my dogs how to open the door whenever they want to chase that squirrel they never catch, I need to write where I’m comfortable and in an environment conducive to productivity.
Where do I go on these types of mornings? Sometimes I go to cafes, but I may struggle to find outlets for my dinosaur laptop (which won’t work unless it is plugged in at all times). There are a multitude of public places in which I could write, however, I tend to create excuses and be easily distracted when the people around me aren’t also engrossed in their work. This dilemma is why I began my search for a unique setting—a local, out-of-my-house staycation for my own creativity.
After purchasing HDR’s Deck of Deals I was delighted to come across a card which entitled me to a free day at The Hub. With a multitude of writing-related assignments, and promotional material to piece together for an upcoming solo exhibition, I immediately contacted owner, Kirsten Moore, to cash in my deal (worth $25). On a Tuesday morning, I walked along Bruce Street admiring it’s undeniable appeal, and with my nearly-extinct laptop, entered the front doors of The Hub. The allure of brickwork and stone on the exterior continued on the inside.
I was met by a rich aroma of freshly-brewed coffee. There were three rectangular tables and several individual decks in a spacious area, close enough to feel connected to co-hubbers already busy at work. With each table having two power outlets, I was immediately at ease. Four individuals worked at the tables, sometimes offering advice to one another on their unrelated projects. I received four smiles as I settled in, and a kind reminder that the coffee mugs were in the kitchen area should I want to take advantage of limitless coffee. Helping myself to coffee, water and snacks, I sat down and began to work. As I peeked up, I saw an infectious image of fellow individuals typing ideas, working on presentations, conversing among one another for ideas. After a refill of coffee, I returned to everyone back at work, more smiles as they quickly glanced up and back to their screens, and I fell into a depth of concentration on the work I’d procrastinated on far too long. There was a perfect balance of social availability and concentration. I believe, wholeheartedly, that I could’ve asked each person what they thought of the poetry lines I was writing and they would’ve offered their time to help me make it the best it could be. There was a perfect equilibrium of autonomy and collaboration and silence and sharing.
Although, my visit was for one day, it was undeniably clear that The Hub had found a successful balance of long-term Hubbers, and people like me in need of a recharge and chance of environment. However, I never felt as though I stood out from those who were there all the time. The beauty of The Hub’s services exists in its collaborative, work-minded environment. Offering office equipment, high-speed wifi (even for prehistoric laptop), free refreshments, a kitchen area, two meeting rooms, a sofa area and a space which displays the aesthetic of refurb warehouse charm as well as a contemporary vibe.
Many cups of [free] coffee later, I’d completed a flyer design, created a Facebook event, edited two poems and wrote two paragraphs of a blog post. My daughter rang from her elementary school to say she’d forgotten to take what she needed for an after-school project. As The Hub offers a come and go as you please policy, I could’ve returned any time that afternoon.
My deal of the deck lead me to a priceless experience that I’ll utilize on the days the world won’t allow me to concentrate. It’s a treat I plan on indulging in frequently. There’s a variety of wonderful writing spaces in Harrisonburg (with Massanutten Regional Library, The Artful Dodger, The Little Grill, Heritage Bakery and Bella Gelato being my personal favorites); each offers a distinct experience. The Hub recharged my creativity in a way that carried on through the rest of the week. Now that I have another favorite writing space to add to the list, I’m not at lack of a variety of choices on the days I need a change of environment. The Hub’s perks are undoubtedly worth the monthly fee of $100 (they are daily fee options as well): free coffee, wifi, anxiety-free power outlet use, and a community of productivity which means that I return home to the laundry, my family, and two wagging tails with a smile and without anxiety. With varying options of spaces and timeframes, The Hub offers something for every type of individual or business: one day, one month or long-term.
I’ve always been a busy woman, but I’m on a mission to become a more productive one. Thanks to The Hub and all my favorite downtown writing spots, I’ve not only got a business card saying I’m a writer, I’ve got the completed writing assignments to prove it.
Written by Angela Carter, an author, poet, motivational speaker, spoken word performer, visual artist, art director at the Artful Dodger and a framer at The Frame Factory. Her writing in her full-length poetry memoir, Memory Chose A Woman’s Body, was nominated for a 2014 Pushcart Prize. Her poetry performances have been featured in a multitude of venues including The KGB Club in Manhattan and Busboys and Poets in DC. Angela is an advocate of the healing ability of the arts. She, her husband, two daughters and two dogs reside in Harrisonburg, VA after relocating, from Bath, England, approximately 10 years ago. The Carters are proud to be a part of Harrisonburg’s growing, and caring, downtown community. Read some of her work here.