How an empty space became a thriving hub for over 100 members
On Wednesday, July 6th, the Prairie Den will celebrate one year of collaborative coworking in Fargo.
The Prairie Den was launched last summer by local nonprofit Emerging Prairie in the downtown location previously occupied by CoCo, another coworking space. In the wake of CoCo’s departure, 122 ½ N. Broadway was left bare. But the team at Emerging Prairie saw its bright blue walls and open floor plan as an opportunity.
“We really believed that coworking could add value to Fargo if we did it in a way that made sense to the community,” Annie Wood, Emerging Prairie’s Program Director and fondly known as the “Den Master” said. “This space needs to feel like it’s for Fargo, by Fargo, and meeting Fargo’s needs.”
Today at the Den, teams work together around tables while solo workers stand at desks made of reclaimed wood. Work by local artists covers the walls and the scent of coffee permeates the air.
Organized in the style of a university’s student union, the Prairie Den is an office for all. It is home to four fulltime teams Emerging Prairie, Hash Interactive, Tellwell, and PuPaPo and more than 140 members, ranging from a DJ who’s starting a funeral webcasting service to a local pastor with a fledgling church. In one year, the Prairie Den has even graduated an alumni team; CoSchedule’s Fargo team started off in the PrairieDen and grew so much they moved to a larger office last November.
The Den also serves as a venue for a variety of events and meetups such as Drone Focus Monthly, the Red River Market kickoff, a Concordia College summer class, Girl Develop It, Startup Drinks, and the Emerging Prairie Intern Experience. It has been a destination for investors like Paul Singh, as well as Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Congressman Kevin Cramer.
Jenni Huotari, a partner at Eide Bailly, is one of the Den’s earliest supporters. She recalls the space’s early days as “rummage saleish,” all mismatched furniture and lifeless walls. Now, she offices out of the Den on days that require an extra boost of creative energy.
“There’s always a lot of foot traffic,” Huotari said. “There’s a lot of signs of life.”
Although very few members actually work for the same company, there is a camaraderie one might find in an office. One member, Brent McNeal, organizes birthday bashes each month. Another, Max Kringen, enjoys the communal eating area to share meals with his team.
Kringen, who moved into the Den with Tellwell as fulltime members in March, sees the Prairie Den as a place that will continue to grow.
“Annie singlehandedly took that space [the Prairie Den] and created a community within it that people wanted to be a part of,” Kringen said. “In doing that, she has created this big ball of energy that’s like a snowball and just keeps growing.”
On Wednesday, Den members will celebrate the space’s first birthday. All are welcome to join the happy hour, from 5:30 7:00 at the Prairie Den. Sign up here!