Meet Ash from two/fiftyseven

two/fiftyseven is a vibrant coworking, events and wellbeing space, designed with sustainability and material reuse in mind.

 

In this edition of People Behind the Space, we catch up with Ash Holwell, from two/fiftyseven.

We chat to Ash about what inspired him to set up his collaborative workspace, and the broad range of individuals and organisations that use it as their business hub.

If you are interested in learning more about two/fiftyseven for coworking or to host an event, you can head to their listing here

 

What inspired you to set up your space?

A while ago I was part of opening up a squat in The Netherlands and experienced an entirely different approach to property - prioritising use and collective value over exclusion and inequality - much more akin to the way Tangata Whenau experience land in Aotearoa. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to be able to continue to create places - two large community spaces in Whangārei, and now two new projects in Whanganui-a-Tara.

Space can be such an incredible enabler for people, and everyone has the right to access it - our current capitalist economic system is making spaces increasingly less accessible. We want to change that.

 

What is your favourite part of the space and why?

Oh so many things - we have the world’s first circular economy wall system designed and made right here in Whanganui-a-Tara; the world first lighting system made of 100% recycled plastic; most of our furniture is upcycled from materials we salvaged from the previous fitout; seventeen incredible artists created pieces especially for our space; we’re the first certified Climate Positive coworking space in Aotearoa; and our massive acoustic curtains tend to amaze people when we turn our small meeting rooms into an event space in minutes.

 

Please tell us a bit about what other ventures you are also involved with.

I work closely with CoLiberate, co-developing their mental health support training programmes - so far we’ve trained close to 2,000 people who are having over 350,000 critical mental health support conversations every year. Northland Food Rescue - over the last four months we’ve distributed over 200,000 meals to people in need throughout Te Tai Tokerau, and saved 65 tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere in the process. I co-founded Whare Bike in Whangārei, saving bikes from landfill, teaching people how to fix them, and giving them away - over 300 in our first couple of summers of operation!  I feel incredibly lucky to be a contributor to these organisations and work with a bunch of amazing people doing the critical mahi for a just and sustainable world.

 

What type of businesses tend to operate from two/fiftyseven?

Small impact-focused organisations, consultants, remote workers and small tech firms so far. We've managed to end up with a whole range with our space being flexible and offering desks, meetings, events and venue facilities. For example, in the last few months we’ve Zealandia, Sharesies, The Office of the Auditor General, Wellington City Council, Generation Zero, Rainbow Youth, TEDxPipitea, People Against Prisons Aotearoa,  and Visa Wellington on a Plate in the space - we love the power of diversity and aim to make our space as inclusive as we can - we’re slowly on our way, though we have big dreams!

 

Describe the community and vibe at two/fiftyseven.

Varied, energetic, collaborative and supportive. We’re host to Aotearoa’s only mental health gym service; have councillors, activist organisations and tech startups rubbing shoulders with each other; there might be a collaborative design sprint going on in one room and a movement session is held in another, next to a council workshop while someone is baking cookies for everyone in the kitchen - then the bar and a couple djs might roll in to crank up one of Welly’s best sound systems - it’s a time.

 

If you could pick any three people in the world to work in your space, who would it be and why? 

Our cleaners (we use Fresh Desk as they’re rad and living wage accredited) - one of our impact performance indicators is that if we have a clear pathway for how someone who is our cleaner might be supported to develop or be part of an organisation that means they work in our space, then we’re creating the access to space that is radically enabling.

Adrienne Maree Brown - an incredible human who is forging a new world through radical being, and openly resonating with Albert Camus’ statement - ‘The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.' Life. Power. Essence.

And I’m actually just so incredibly stoked with all of the humans who are in our space already - from Angelica who is always providing glorious baked treats and Sam’s hecticly good focaccia, to Dr. Nina Hall and Erin Matariki Carr who, through the NZ Alternative and other projects, are leading massive change in Aoteroa and the amazing CoLiberate crew changing New Zealand’s everyday mental health support system - and all of the wonderful humans continuing to join - we’ve got a pretty lovely and wild mix of people committed to making a strong community and a magical world for all.

 

 

What are the most played songs at Two Fifty Seven?

I reckon this is a good chance to outs to some of the local djs and music makers who have played for us here and who we’re working with to give more chances for people to experience great local tunes:

Curtis and George with their insession and Lakeboon projects - https://soundcloud.com/insessionnz + https://soundcloud.com/lakeboon 

Alice - https://soundcloud.com/aliceagnes

Marielle - https://soundcloud.com/m-d_g

Katie - https://soundcloud.com/sorchalula

 

 

There are a range of memberships at two/fiftyseven for different schedules and budgets, head to their listing to find out more.

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