Greetings, subscribers, from Kingston, NY, where a dystopian hipster parody is currently playing out.
Kington is an amazing little city where right now many are engaged in fighting systemic racism, and supporting one another through mutual aid. But we’re in the midst of an insane real estate gold rush here, which is having devastating effects on the most vulnerable, often displacing them.
It’s also inspiring sketch-comedy-level tone deaf opportunism among some rich newcomers.
The latest episode: In late September, a couple of dudes from the city will launch the terribly-named Barnfox, a $350/month-and-up co-working “clubhouse” catering to the new wave of moneyed digital nomads. From its typo-ridden website it seems like if The Wing didn’t only allow men in, but also catered to them. (Like, if they let the fox…into…the henhouse…?)
This will be the second super-bougie Barnfox unit, the first of which opened in Hudson earlier this year. A third is apparently planned for somewhere in the Catskills.
The Kingston edition is in an airy, cavernous space I had looked at and lusted after in 2016 while I was trying to figure out how to launch Kingston Writers’ Studio, my small, low-frills co-working space for writers, back when that space was still run down and funky and the landlord couldn’t give it away. (I recall trying to explain to him what a co-working space was. He rejected my application. Lol.)
On the Slack channel for the now defunct Kingston Writers’ Studio, we’ve been having a grand old time poking fun at Barnfox. We’ve taken our proverbial red pens to the hackneyed web copy, marveled at the idea that they would try to operate in a pandemic — the very pandemic that forced me to close my doors — and joked about how they “endearingly,” refer to their members as “foxes.”
The painful irony is that right now I would kill for a safe space to co-work in. I’m loathe to admit there’s one part of me perusing the Barnfox site longingly. I mean, not that longingly. I don’t want to be in that space. But, god, I miss working among people.
I miss putting on a presentable outfit and leaving my house to go write in the company of others. I miss how infectious other people’s focus and drive could be; I’m depressed and lonely and struggling to stay on task with my book and other projects, and I could really use some of that right now! I miss taking breaks together to eat lunch or gossip.
I was very much my target customer. I had created Kingston Writers’ Studio because it was something I needed. It fleshed out my life upstate, compensating somewhat for the multiplicity and serendipity I’d been missing since leaving New York City in 2005.
The cringe-worthy irony is how many times in the past few years I said out loud, “I just wish someone in the business of running co-working spaces would open here in Kingston and I could join.” Like, I wanted to just show up, and not be in charge of collecting rent and making sure there was enough bottled water and printer ink, and that everyone was happy. (I am a co-dependent, overly-empathic person who always operated KWS at a loss, aka: not cut out for entrepreneurship!)
Well, careful what you wish for.