A commitment to community
Brooklyn Creative League creates extraordinary coworking spaces and cultivates authentic professional communities. We support companies and individuals who share a commitment to community, collaboration, and mutual benefit. Together, we create businesses, communities, and local economies that are vibrant, inclusive, resilient, and just.
Founded in 2009, Brooklyn Creative League was one of the first coworking spaces to open in the United States, and the “o.g.” Brooklyn coworking space. Founded by the husband-and-wife team of Erin Carney and Neil Carlson, BCL earned a reputation as a top-notch coworking space with an uniquely welcoming and tightly-knit community of members. We expanded our Gowanus location in 2010, a year after opening, and filled the entire space by the time we opened. We expanded again in 2015, with the same result. Our steady, disciplined growth has allowed us to build an extraordinary space and authentic professional community while also providing great service to our members, great jobs for our employees, and support for local charities and mission-driven investments.
In 2017, we rolled out the our Business Vision 2027, an audacious 10-year plan that will transform BCL from being one of many coworking spaces in a growing industry into something truly unique: a foundry for community capitalism. Using our core coworking business as a launchpad, we will develop an enterprise network of at least five new coworking spaces and three new complementary businesses that allows us to combine social and financial capital to create economic value for our members, investors, employees, partners, and local communities. By 2027, BCL and its members will generate at least $120,000,000 in annual revenue, creating a significant multiplier effect for neighborhoods with BCL locations. Through mentorships, community fellowships, and charitable giving, BCL and its members will generate $2,000,000 annually in grants, social investments, and pro-bono services to support our local communities.
If you want to check out the full Business Vision 2027, you can read it here, or download it here. Or better yet, join today and become a part of something special.
Our Business Principles
Here at BCL, we are committed to using coworking as a tool to nurture what we call “community capitalism” -- successful, sustainable, community-minded businesses that balance private profits with the public good. We believe that business, structured thoughtfully and managed with integrity, can help create a more resilient and equitable economy--and a better, more just society. Here are the Business Principles that guide our long-term vision and inform our day-to-day work (for a detailed, printable version click here):
Extraordinary Coworking Spaces. At BCL we are committed to designing, building, and running extraordinary coworking spaces.
Authentic Professional Communities. If space is BCL’s yin, community is our yang. We create communities that are warm, welcoming, diverse, and durable.
Great Service. Since BCL’s employees are responsible for running an extraordinary space and nurturing our community, we lead by example, providing great service day in and day out.
A Unique Place to Work. BCL is committed to being a fun, challenging, and fulfilling place to work.
Solid Profits. Profits are the wellspring of all we do. We are committed to generating profit that supports business growth, investor returns, and the wellbeing of staff, owners, members, and our local communities. We operate at a healthy level of profit and invest for the long term.
Sustainable Growth. Through Direct Community Ownership. We are committed to sharing investment opportunities with a broad range of investors, including BCL members, employees, local neighborhood residents, and mission-aligned investors.
Generosity and Justice. We believe that practicing generosity while also building a more just and equitable society is good business.
Co-Founder & CEO
After moving to New York in 2001, Neil worked as an independent writer, policy researcher, and communications consultant to foundations, nonprofits, and sustainable businesses. His work focused on developing business and investment models that embody the principles of local ownership, environmental sustainability, and fairness for owners, customers, vendors, and contractors. Neil was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating from Kenyon College in Ohio, he moved to southwest Louisiana, where he worked as an organizer for Service Employees International Union and gained an appreciation for catfish po’ boys and drive-thru margarita stands. Afterward, Neil spent a year doing cooperative housing development in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he met Erin. Before launching his consulting practice, Neil worked as the Director of Communications for the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.
Co-Founder & COO
Erin has over two decades of experience as a senior manager and consultant to nonprofits. Before moving to Brooklyn in 2001, Erin was executive director of Literacy Volunteers of America — National Capital Area — a job that, to this day, warms her heart just thinking of it. Since then, Erin has worked as a fundraiser and management consultant specializing in helping small, community-based nonprofits grow to achieve their full potential. Erin was born and raised in the California Bay Area. She earned a degree in Economics, with minors in Philosophy and Women’s Studies, at California State University, Chico. After a few years in San Francisco, she went to Harare, Zimbabwe, where she volunteered at Kunzwana Women’s Association, an indigenous organization serving women on the commercial farms. (Small aside: This is where she met Neil.)
Brittany Bellinger is a born-and bred-Brooklynite studying Public Affairs and Urban Planning at SUNY Empire State College. She is a writer, urbanist, arts educator, and scholar. Brittany’s passions are centered around arts education, social justice, and community development that serve under-resourced urban cities.
Brittany created and facilitated creative writing and performance programs as a Teaching Artist at UrbanWordNYC. She then joined Writing Corps at the Harlem Children’s Zone where she developed curriculum aligned with the National Common Core standards, coordinated ELA across multiple afterschool sites, and served as a content creator & editor for the online learning center. Currently, she works as a community manager for Brooklyn Creative League, where she creates and curates community initiatives and events, bringing her passions and love for her hometown to the job. Brittany was a 2017 fellow for Kakehashi Project with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Upon graduation, Brittany plans to attend grad school to further study Housing and Economic development.
Jenni Walkowiak moved to New York City from Albuquerque, NM five years ago, after graduating from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Musical Theatre. Jenni is a professional event and portrait photographer who got her start giving $20 headshot sessions to fellow theatre majors in the courtyard of the architecture library. Now, she regularly shoots live music and comedy all over New York City. Her photos have been published digitally by Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Huffington Post, and Time Out NY.
As a community manager for Brooklyn Creative League, Jenni coordinates events and creates content for the site's blog and social media accounts. In her spare time, Jenni produces her own comedy show once a month in Williamsburg with her comic boyfriend, Lucas, makes music with her acoustic comedy band "Singers Who Play Chords," and runs marathons. Jenni never sleeps.