In the age of the freelancer, in which employment is precarious and solitude highly valued, co-working spaces seem to have replaced coffee shops as some of the most desirable places to get work done outside of one’s own home.
Still, because these spaces usually cater to the general public, they can be alienating for queer folk. In an effort to offer the Queer community a venue for self-expression, quiet contemplation and focused creation, a local academic has set up a co-working space on Eddy Street in Hull, Québec. Purple Maple Creative Studio offers queer creatives a space to be themselves and get to work.
“I don’t have a room of my own, and I don’t know if you’ve read Virgina Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, in which she argues that women need privacy and income in order to express themselves freely,” said Sanita Fejzić, founder of Purple Maple. “I’ve always wanted a room of my own.”
Though Fejzić says she thinks that solitude is a necessity for writers, she “wanted a space where other writers could come too, where everyone is writing in their own bubble of solitude. So we have multiple bubbles of solitude together, but at lunch, we could all burst our bubbles and feast together and have conversations together.”
“I’ve always wanted a room of my own.”
Fejzić was born in the former Yugoslavia, a communist country in Eastern Europe, hugging the Adriatic Sea. She is currently doing her PhD at Queen’s University, where she specializes in cultural production and its relationship to environmental ethics, while raising her son alongside her partner.
“I’ve published a book. I’ve published two anthologies. Writing at home is not as rewarding as one would think, right?” Fejzić asked, rhetorically. “I have a kid, and I’m always compelled to clean.”
The author wanted something that was as close to zero-waste as possible, and she was looking to challenge herself to see if she could write in a small space, so she asked herself, “Can we create a shared, tiny office that is zero waste, so that when we work together, we aren’t damaging anything or at least minimizing our impact?”
Fejzić sourced wood from a spot about an hour outside of Ottawa, brought it home, cut it, sanded it, coloured it and epoxied it to create a counter that can comfortably seat four people. She then transformed two filing cabinets that she acquired from a friend at the University of Ottawa into a large, moveable desk, “so that way, if ever the four of us are eating or meeting together, and someone needs to bring in a publisher, an editor or somebody, you can put it in the middle of the space as a table or put it back, and it’s just a desk.”
“I’m calling it the Purple Maple Studio because the wood that I got is purple maple,” said Fejzić. “It’s in honour of the tree that gave its life for us to write and work here.”
“I’ve published a book. I’ve published two anthologies. Writing at home is not as rewarding as one would think, right?”
The author says Purple Maple started as a shared workspace, but she would eventually like to host events at the studio for LGBTQ+ people in cooperation with her partner, who specializes in clinical psychology and host events for LGBTQ+ newcomers.
“There are no hours [of operation], so you work when you want to,” said Fejzić. “It works on a trust basis. Obviously, the people that would want to share this space with me, I would have to get to know them…. There would be some kind of interview process, I suppose.”
If you’re interested in getting some work done at the Purple Maple Studio, you can reach out to Fejzić directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the space on Facebook and support their GoFundMe.