Oftentimes people are told why they cannot achieve certain goals or be themselves, however, Christopher Webley’s response was to create a space and “new rules” for the North Minneapolis community.
Webley grew up in North Carolina where he cultivated an early passion for designing, creating and problem solving. He went to college for textile engineering and after school he met a peer that owned multiple properties and it sparked an interest in real estate. From there, he started a real estate development company in Ohio and eventually branched out in Minneapolis after relocating for employment. After his nine-to-five job tenure ceased, Webley liquidated his assets and bought the space that is now New Rules, 2015 N. Lowry Ave.
New Rules Benefit Corporation is a shared workspace for the community and events. It is a place where people can get business and creative services and the location provides a hub for innovation, philanthropy, arts, culture and community.
“Everything in here is shared ownership, shared resources,” Webley said. “A big part of what we do is provide the platform for folks.”
New Rules is not a co-op or a non-profit because Webley feels that in this instance, it would not help his community to its full potential.
“As much as non-profits have their place in the world, that’s not a model that sets a community that has been traditionally disenfranchised and lacks love,” Webley said. “We are in one of the largest communities for the largest disparity gap amongst Black and white peers. We wanted to set an example for being for the community and keeping the lights on at the same time.”
Moreover, New Rules takes an active stance on real estate. It looks to take unproductive and overlooked buildings and use them to co-create innovative spaces that are designed by the community to solve problems.
“We call this our statement project for what real estate development should look like in our neighborhoods,” Webley said.
A major component of its motto and overall premise as a company is collaboration. Webley is deliberate on providing a genuine space for others to thrive and succeed. Though it may seem as if Webley has people working for him, realistically they are collaborators from other businesses which gives everyone agency over their respective brands and companies.
“That’s been a very intentional decision to create avenues of ownership,” Webley said. “The biggest thing that distinguishes us from other coworking spaces alike is we are all committed to this end goal of creating the shared ethos for what we want to see in the community and trying to use what we do as business owners to create the world we want to live in.”
New Rules is multi-faceted and takes a team effort. Webley said he is not concerned with titles or getting accolades, he is more concerned about the impact New Rules has on the community and is firm on giving acknowledgement to the many that helped him on his journey.
“It is about listening and responding. For us it is not about needing credit, we just want to do the work,” said the innovator.
So far in New Rules’ three years of existence, Webley said he is most proud of making a space for people to work out of and being more integrated with the surrounding community. He now can recall numerous stories of comradery and support within the North Minneapolis neighborhood.
“It has created a sense of hope and a sense of pride for those who use our space and for the folks that don’t use our space,” he said. “Everyone on this street within a five to 10 block radius knows us and I know them on a first name basis. Those are heart-felt, heart-warming things for me.”
New Rules hosted a Minnesota Black Bloggers and Creatives Soiree this past Sunday and is partnering with Its Fest for a block party on Aug. 24.