Embassy Network has worked with a number of operating models, that basically achieve affordability through sharing and agency.

That is, we leverage people’s marginal contributions of time, as well as economies of scale in the sharing of space[1], and invite agency in the operation and vision of the space itself. In return, the space becomes more affordable, amplifying and supporting the initiatives of the associated people and organizations. We are also able to redirect surplus money and time into a commons of our own creation. In a way, we exchange money for agency. How do we feel about that?

Finally, we create engines of iterative experimentation through connecting theory of change, to the practice of operations.

Embassies usually involve 3 functions:

  • Residents who anchor the culture and provide the institutionalized cultural knowledge, guests who are more temporal and mobile, often providing transmission of culture/learnings across the network, and platform, somewhere to host events, gatherings, and potentially commercial activities.

  • These three functions exist in different ratios depending on numerous factors like location, culture, financial goals, partners, etc.

  • Spaces may have commercial activities. This is up to the community.

  • Ideally, the community has ultimate say over the space and can (and presumably will) evolve the design of the governance and management systems themselves over time. Resources are managed in common creating tighter bonds through collaboration and shared experience.

But it’s worth noting that thus far, maybe this is some meta property of the broader context we live in, or maybe we just haven’t figured out a better way, but there IS this tradeoff with agency and the participation required for that agency. We often talk about communal spaces as being “cheaper.” Whether this is an aim ceteris paribus, these spaces may be more affordable, but that affordability costs something. There are also structural and non-linear tradeoffs involved, that fundamentally impact the tools and experiences we walk away with.

[1] one might almost think of the residents then as marginal ‘producers’ of space, through their financial contribution– which secures the use of that space thus producing it as platform.