Lover Of Fog Machines.
Get to know Spud Marshall, our founder and the author of ‘Designing Creative Communities’
…and discover why fog machines matter as a community builder.
Community is my consistent thread
I’ve never had a traditional career path.
My work has covered a wide range of interests – from social entrepreneurship to creative economic development to fostering innovation ecosystems. Throughout, creative communities have been central to everything I pursue.
In that time, I’ve started multiple social ventures, launched cross-country roadtrips, and consulted with clients ranging from small arts centers, Fortunate 100s, and the federal government.
Sharing my creative process
In 2021, I set out to make the framework I regularly use with clients – and on my own ventures – more accessible, by writing ‘Designing Creative Communities.’ Quickly after being released, it became an Amazon Bestseller.
It revealed that people everywhere want to build belonging and cultivate connection, but for many, they are unsure where to start. The book offered a solution.
Today, I spend my time working with groups around the world helping them design their own creative communities.
Quick Snapshot of Social Ventures that I've Co-Founded
In 2010, I launched New Leaf Initiative – a community innovation lab in State College, PA. Our creative space was available for anyone to drop in and share their ideas for how they might make the town a better place. In time, the non-profit began to serve as a central destination for folks interested in pioneering the future of our town.
In 2012, New Leaf narrowed their focus on co-working to support creative freelancers and moved their operations to a 2,500 sq ft space in the municipal building. To demonstrate the importance of this transition, we hosted a large Cardboard Prototype Party for the community to step into and experience what such a space might look like.
By 2022, the local innovation ecosystem that New Leaf helped spur was thriving, with multiple groups and spaces for the community to plug into. Recognizing New Leaf had played their role in sparking this change, the organization closed its in-person operations with the hopes of amplifying the newer opportunities around town.
In 2013, I launched the co.space, a 20-person intentional community for young changemakers in State College, PA. We purchased a run-down fraternity home and renovated it into a creative hub for social entrepreneurs and creatives. At our core, we help people find the community they’ve been searching for.
Designed for students and young professionals, the home sparks lasting friendships and provides a supportive homebase for emerging leaders to pursue their passions. We encourage tenants to tangibly make their mark, which has resulted in indoor beehives and cave showers being built in the home, as well as new business ventures.
Throughout the year, we host regular retreats for tenants, weekly dinners with local mentors, and provide funding to support tenant-led projects. In doing so, a significant number of our graduates consider staying in town afterward to more meaningful contribute to the local creative economy.
In 2019 I launched 3 Dots, an arts and innovation center in downtown State College, PA. Designed to curate and amplify culture throughout our region, the space is 1/3 event venue, 1/3 art gallery, and 1/3 innovation lounge. You can think of us as the creative HQ in town where folks can easily find their tribe.
As the Innovation Director, I oversaw the creative direction and renovation of the space. This involved facilitating design charrettes to gather the input of hundreds of community members as to what they wished the space would look like. Since that time, I’ve supported the organization in reimagining ways to amplify our downtown.
Our goal is to amplify the efforts that local creatives are working on, like the Molok performance shown in the video above. Our physical space showcases these unique projects, but in addition, we give out a $1000 no-strings-attached grant to local creatives every month to spur innovation beyond our four walls.
So how are fog machines relevant...
Regardless of the project, I strive to create spaces of wonder. Wonder is a glimpse of what’s possible in the midst of what is.
Nothing represents that better than my childhood love of fog machines. They transform spaces into the mystical and unexpected, full of whimsy and excitement.
Years later, I’ve come to realize that community building has largely the same goal: to transform spaces into something more.
Today, that’s what excites me about the work I get to lead. If you’d like to work together, I’d love to chat more! Reach out on social media or schedule a call on my calendar.