An Open Letter To Daniel Gerous

Tyler HurstBlog15 Comments

Dear Daniel Gerous:

Yeah, hi. I’m a fan. Of Gangplank, that is. Yep, been a fan for a while now, back when Gangplank was still mostly an idea. Back when Gangplank wasn’t physical and was shielded from what we could see, feel, or smell. There were no expectations back then. If we wanted to be a part of Gangplank, we just showed up.

Hacknights were cooler then. There was code on the screen, not performances by Animal and Johnny Cash’s second cousin banging on Rubbermaid cans*. People drank energy drinks, not hard liquor. Everyone watched. Podcasts were recorded. There was a buzz. An energy not quite palpable, but an emotional blast that sucked people in. It was a little dirty, a little out of place and a little chaotic.

And then we got popular. Your founders struck deals with multiple area businesses and even the Chandler government to become more of a centralized figure in the burgeoning East Side small business scene. Good work, we all wanted a nicer space to work out of.

But the move to Gangplank 3.0 was not entirely smooth. The biggest complaint wasn’t access to resources, availability of startup funds or even facetime with local mentors. It was desks. Yes, fucking desks. I’m telling you that a bunch of freelancers and small companies, neither of whom pay rent and typically only do what Gangplank staff asks of them, biggest complaint was where their fucking desks were. Again, no rent money is paid at Gangplank. Sure, the freelancers and companies bought the desks (IKEA, so under $200), which Gangplank agreed gave them the right to use those desks when they were there, but nothing in the sparse use of space agreement guarantees location or shape of your particular pod.

And now Gangplank isn’t dangerous, or to put it what is apparently Gangplank vernacular, “dangerosity” has left the building. There are more news crews now. Lots of guest workers. Brownbags, every Wednesday. Events most nights of the week. Support for local businesses, with discounts and free food. Some might call this safe, others might call it growing up.

Some people and companies won’t like this. Though they’ll be first in line to take the handouts when they arrive, they’ll bitch and moan about things not being interesting enough, but the search for more interesting always, always brings us back to being more so. Gangplank isn’t getting less dangerous, YOU are. We are. I am.

The new people aren’t being taught properly. Don’t see them staying after much, do ya? They seem to be pretty content with 9-5 like most of the world, but that creates quite an emptiness after the sun goes down and the creativity goes up. Any regulars invited someone new to an event lately, or did you bitch while on vacation?

It was easy in the beginning. The energy inside the building fed on itself and shit just happened. People stayed late (how often do many people even do that now?). Podcasts were recorded. Something was hacked (not, either). Derek Neighbors talked and we listened. But seriously, fuck Derek. He never wanted to be a leader, only a guide. He was our Jobu. Fuck you, Jobu. We do it ourselves.

In the beginning, Gangplank provided the spark, now it expects the community to and we’re either not willing, or not able.

Point being, if you think “dangerosity” has left the building, then you’d better well damn try to get it back.

Or get out, because Gangplank shouldn’t, and hopefully won’t, be something for everyone. It will be what WE make it. The price of progress seems to be the willingness to accept that little will be done in the name of it. That’s not good enough for me, nor should it be for you.

*The fact they’re good and entertaining to watch isn’t mentioned by me here. I’m all for music and think we should have more of it, but too many things happening at once gets overwhelming. Perhaps an effort can be taken to play percussion instruments at a different time or day. But that’s not up to me nor should it be. All I wanted to clarify here is that Brandon Franklin and Nicholas DiBiase are a good listen and that I’d like to be able to enjoy their musical medley when I’m more appropriately settled.

Tyler HurstAn Open Letter To Daniel Gerous

15 Comments on “An Open Letter To Daniel Gerous”

  1. Alicia B.

    I never had the pleasure to go to Gangplank when I lived there, but I envied everyone who could — and still does, as it always seemed like such a great place to interact with people in the Valley who “get” it. Hopefully that doesn't leave either.

  2. Evniki K. Voyatzis

    I think in being surrounded by the friends and colleagues that frequent Gangplank, it's easy not to realize just how cool the idea is behind Gangplank and the space they provide. As someone who's not an Arizona native, I can attest that Gangplank is unique and ahead of it's time. Other large cities may have esteemed co-working spaces, but at a hefty price. (Affinity Lab in Washington, DC charges $235 – $995 a month for access and that doesn't include any additional educational events.) I hope, not only that other cities take a cue from the awesome set up we have here, but that as local residents, we don't take this awesome space for granted.

  3. willbradley

    I like, but I think energy and shit happening are things to be cultivated by experienced cultivators, a la Activating Passionate Communities. Gangplank was always a passionate community to me, not just a free handout of floor space. To keep that passion alive, and to keep the energy and cool shit from leaving, cultivators have to be careful about their cultivation. It's uber difficult and unreasonable to expect of someone, but it is what it is. I get the impression that cultivators are stressed and have other priorities right now, which I completely understand, but it is what it is.

  4. Amanda Blum

    I was critical of GP at first (seriously? CHANDLER? completely off the grid?) but I've spent a lot of time all over the country with the local geekery and absolutely no one has a resource like GP except us. The space available, the resources and more than anything else, the community created by GP is a gift to us- a privilege, not a right. The faith they extend in the community around GP is amazing. Like all organizations, it grows and there are changes.The addition of Katie is a big deal, IMO, and the next few years will be interesting to watch. It sucks to have to watch it from far away.

  5. Brevemike

    :Begin Ramble:

    After I read this – I had to think about why I had avoided Gangplank for the past year or so.
    When I first heard of Gangplank I thought it was an awesome idea.
    People working with each other, not for each other.

    So I visited. What I saw was a group of people working over on one side of the room and a number of people working *by themselves* around the room.
    I hung around for about a half an hour.
    Wandered over by the pool table. Said howdy to a couple of folks.
    Sitting down at a table and pulling out my laptop for a bit.
    Then I left.

    No interaction, no cool. I was not greeted by anyone.
    No passing “Hello”. Actually the two people I said Howdy to looked rather annoyed.

    The second time I visited someone noticed me looking around and actually asked if a had been in before.
    I told them yes, but I didn't understand how the place worked.
    They took five minutes to show me around and talk with me.
    That was awesome! I wish I could remember who it was.

    My question is: In a self-organizing organism what constitutes risk?
    Any form of change or evolution is “dangerous”.
    So is not changing.

    Reaching out to try and find people compatible with the community is important.
    However, the danger of becoming insular and stagnating in a sea of “like-mindedness” is also great.

    You can't attract new blood unless you outreach.
    Expecting people to insinuate themselves into a group, take risks, and collaborate is a high hurdle if the circle looks closed.
    Why would anyone try to participate in an endeavor where it appears they're not welcome?

    So what does it mean to be dangerous?
    What does it mean to “create a sustainable community based on trust”?

    I don't know, I'm trying to find out.

    I look to the Gangplank Manifesto and I'm still trying to decipher it.
    I'm not sure I understand the terms.

    collaboration over competition -> I get this one

    community over agendas -> I don't get how these are in conflict

    participation over observation -> Don't just stand there, DO something! That said I prefer to observe unless I have something cogent to add (this post as proof to the contrary)

    doing over saying -> I get this one, except where saying *is* doing

    friendship over formality -> Ok, but friendship isn't necessary for collaboration – mutual respect is

    boldness over assurance -> I don't get how these are in conflict, unless you mean freedom over safety

    learning over expertise -> Yes, be open to new ideas – but leverage expertise for learning

    people over personalities -> Not sure I understand this one, but I'm me – warts and all

    So what is “dangerousity”?

    :End Ramble:

  6. Justin


    I was thinking someone should paint the walls beige.

    Or maybe a shade of Taupe.

    White and black is just so… well, white and black.

    Or is it black and white?

  7. Chris Conrey

    community over agendas -> agendas as in personal agendas, putting the community in front of your own personal gain

    friendship over formality -> ie not making people who just happen to be hanging around sign NDAs to talk about what you're working on, to actually treat each other with mutual respect

    boldness over assurance -> be bold and give real feedback, not cheerleading, no just saying you're doing great! for no reason

    people over personalities -> gangplank isn't any one person, or two people, itโ€™s the entire community around us.

  8. willbradley

    Thanks this was helpful, but I'm still (how many years in?) wondering who calls the shots. There are obviously a handful of people with veto power, but I can only guess at who those people are. If Gangplank truly is the entire community, what's preventing me from claiming half the building as Will Land? Some definition is needed because at least some of us are running blind here, and have been for months. I need to know who to direct questions to and who to corner when I don't get an answer.

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