It took Al Attara 32 years or so to realize his dream.  Back then he was quite the visionary.  He bought the building you see in the photo with the idea that it would serve as a shelter for baby businesses.  His plans were stymied until a few years ago when he was able to invite other entrepreneurial dreamers to share his.  And today this seven story building is home to scientists, architects, fashion designers and cupcake makers.  Sharing space also means sharing ideas and often projects.  One business stimulates another.  And you get a wonderful mix of possibilities for mentoring, collaboration and inspiration.
I love his concept, because when you’re open to the possibilities, good things can follow.  And inevitably, some of these projects will lead to profitable businesses.  And all the opportunities for sharing make them a great training ground.

It also makes me think about how the changes in our particular industry have created a greater sense of isolation.

I learned my craft working as an assistant.  Back then there were ample opportunities to find that kind of work.  And I was able to learn and practice my skills on the job, since the people who hired me were also willing to teach me what I needed to know.  And they were right there, so I could observe and ask questions.

And when I became more skilled, I started hiring my own assistants and helped pass on to them much of what I had learned from others.  And we’d often talk about what we were trying to accomplish and what approach to pursue.  I would teach them, they would teach me.  It was a great way to learn and grow.  And I liked all the back and forth.  It made for a rich work experience.

But advances in technology have changed the working environment in so many ways.  And now I typically work alone; there’s rarely any time or money for an assistant.  Which makes it a lot tougher for someone just starting out.  And makes me all the more admiring of Al Attara’s ability to realize his philanthropic vision on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.