Natale Dankotuwage

Third Space and Third Sector Innovation

Submitted Feb 4, 2015

With market, government and societal failure on the rise there needs to be practical action on the ground, a coalition of actors and ideas must be forged to discover the alternative. My objective is to share “Third Space” as a viable option to create cultural shifts for disruptive innovation and push the future of entrepreneurship forward.

Third spaces is a term coined by Howard Shultz Chief Executive Officer of Starbucks. They are spaces that are neither home nor work, but rather something that brings the two into perfect harmony. They are usually open common spaces that bring multi-stakeholders together under one roof.

However,a third space can be so much more than a coffee shop with free wifi. Third sector innovators are developing projects to ignite collaborative community, development of action, learning and ensuring public service. These spaces, utilized effectively, can be areas that turn the average consumer into a socially conscious creator, collaborator and change-maker.


This discussion will explore third sector innovation and third spaces across the world and here in India.

San Francisco Free Space (recognized by the White House Champions for Change) which is looking at how sharing space and promoting open access could ignite civic engagement. Within one month they conducted over 164 free events and workshops. And have gone on to develop 26 centers across the world through shared properties. The project allowed for me to work with civic hackers such as Tim West a Food-Hacker who promotes healthier meals, even though his Grand Father is known as the founder of the multi-billion fast-food Dorritos Chips.

Sri Lanka Unites Reconciliation Centers ( Funded by British High Commission) aspiring to build 25 community centers across the Island. I’d be on site when British Foreign Affairs Minister William Haige visited the center during the Commonwealth Meetings in Sri Lanka. The spaces provide open-access to IT training, English and Entrepreneurial empowerment to foster lasting peace on the island by ensuring equality of opportunity across the boundaries of class, gender and ethnicity. The spaces will be based in rural under developed areas. They have a following of over 10,000 members from across the Island.

Common spaces such as Roots Hyderabad. Funded by a property owner raised in America with Indian roots, who moved back to Hyderabad to turn a family property, a four-storey building, into an open-access space with resource sharing, co-working, free-recording/music space, sustainable garden and stage. And he’s chosen a great city, as American companies Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all gravitated to this city to develop their main offices in India. And many of their employees have been dropping by the space.

OMNI Commons (Oakland) a crowd-funded project that raised 81,041. Collectives like this are proving that that there is a call for more equitable commoning of resources and ideas to meet human needs. And this project aspires to be a safe, productive space where people can pool resources towards collective use and stewardship for the greater community.

And now BHive a co-working space based in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. Founder Shesh Paplikar has left his job at Bloomberg and relocated to Bangalore in order to capitalize on a growing industry in India Entrepreneurs with no where to work. He is aspiring to establish the largest network of co-working spaces for start ups across the city. In just two-months of being open they’ve brought together Harvard drop-outs, ex-employees of Silicon Valley companies and College drop outs from IIT. These individuals are sick of bureaucratic red-tape and are seeking independent businesses as a means of democratizing the economy, spreading wealth and ensuring more freedom for innovating, creating and impacting the world around them. A

Speaker bio

Natale Dankotuwage was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Graduating from the University of Toronto in Political Science and Post-Colonial History. Over the past few years she has been exploring the development of sustainable inclusive third spaces. She has worked closely with founding members of organizations developing co-collaborative and co-creative spaces across the world. From Roots Hyderabad (recognized by The Hindu) to Free Space (recognized by the White House Champions for Change). As a 2013 Asia Foundation Fellow she worked with Sri Lanka Unites developing a Reconciliation Center (Funded by British High Commission). And as an IDEX Accelerator Fellow is working at BHive as an Asst. Community Manager. All of these spaces are open access, equitable commoning of resources and ideas to foster innovative economic, social and political shifts within their localities. They are projects that aspire to be a safe, productive space where people can pool resources towards collective use and stewardship for the greater community.


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