An organization’s name needs to reflect its mission. New Rules
does exactly that. The North Minneapolis for-profit/non-profit hybrid merges community event center, coworking office space, retail and, eventually, a café. At its core, the multi-prong concept blends creative enterprise, social entrepreneurship and community engagement, with a focus on improving and connecting the immediate community near its home on Lowry Avenue.
New Rules seeks to meet the needs of artistic creatives and small businesses while giving back to the local community. “It started with my love for community building and visualizing resources,” says founder Chris Webley. In speaking with artists, he saw a connection between the artisans’ needs and those of other small businesses. While fleshing out the New Rules concept, he realized it naturally extended to the North Minneapolis community where he wished to set up shop.
“We’re looking at ways of engaging different audiences and having conversations to help,” he explains. “The idea is that everybody is doing something. I cut the check, do the heavy-lifting,” he admits, then artisans create products in the work space and then sell them to the community through the retail store. “Everybody has something to contribute…we’re trying to get people to rally behind that idea.”
The event space is open to the community now, whether that means a neighborhood gathering or an art exhibit. Webley hopes to add a café later, which will then feed the community as well.
“Our niche is creative occupations,” he says, but it’s not limited by that mission. New Rules is adaptive based on who can help and what services they can offer.
To cater to creative industries, Webley wired a state-of-the-art sound system, and is actively seeking funds and donations from local corporations for other high-end equipment such as a 3D printer. “I’m gung-ho on doing things the right way the first time around,” says Webley, emphasizing that high-end equipment establishes a sense of pride and professionalism that patchwork gear cannot. New Rules seeks to invest in the community and to give back, which is why he wants the best technology he can find.
Webley purchased the building himself and has overseen renovations. Though the coworking spaces are open now and the retail shop is running in a pilot mode since October 15, he considers New Rules a work in progress. The idea is fully formed and he’s built it from the ground-up, but there is room to grow.
Tenants will come, he says. Currently, he continues, “It’s more about getting the right things that are going to enable us to have an impact.” As the creative businesses grow, so will the retail store and the overall entity’s ability to reach out to their neighbors.
“The biggest needs for a lot of our immediate neighbors are financial resources,” Webley continues. By emphasizing sustainable leadership and economic development through an adaptive format, New Rules can improve lives directly. “There are many examples I can give you where the underlying factor is not having traditional limitations on how you can help,” he explains, “but getting creative.” He cites an example from last summer, when the building lent its lawnmower to a local homeless couple, who used it to earn funds for food and shelter.
By truly engaging their neighbors and finding unique solutions, Webley wants to achieve far more than a high-tech workspace for small businesses. He sees New Rules as connecting workers and neighbors, forging bonds that go beyond vocation.
The New Rules event center will be buzzing this February in honor of Black History Month, serving as a launch pad for the fully integrated concept. The cowork space will be upgraded and the retail store remodeled. “We’re not going to have everything that we want in terms of amenities,” Webley admits. “But we’re continuing to trek toward things.”