Bennett Roesch was a fabulous part of the NextSpace Santa Cruz coworking community.
He was known for juggling in the common space, organizing group plank sessions, fire spinning, making enormous sandwiches, hosting game nights and being down to participate in whatever was happening.
Bennett was a friend to everyone. He loved to connect with people—to really connect. Idle chit chat quickly turned to existential conversations when you bumped into Bennett. He created brilliant fractals and was in a constant seeker state, nudging the edges of reality and challenging people to dig deeper into themselves to more fully connect with each other.
One of Bennett’s favorite things was to ask was, “What do you want?”
There’s a lot of depth behind that seemingly simple question.
When Bennett passed away in September, it was a blow to the soul of our community. It felt like the heart of the space stopped for a few moments.
Then something magical happened: people started streaming into the space. Current members, former members, people we hadn’t seen in years, all converged on our coworking space. We turned to each other. We fell apart with each other. We shared our confusion and grief and fears and regrets and love with each other.
It was a physical manifestation of what we had built over the years. We were, in the days that followed Bennett’s death, community in action—community as a verb.
Bennett’s memorial was held in our coworking space and the place was packed. At one point, we did a massive group shout for the spirit of Bennett: “Bennett!”
It was all so fucked up and desperately beautiful. As life can be.
Iris Kavanagh, who shaped, loved and grew our community from the beginning, brought a photo of Bennett and asked people to write their response to Bennett’s favorite question on the matboard. Here’s what people wrote:
Happy-food Dance (This was a Bennett special)
Club Passing (a juggling reference)
Decentralized peace, truth and love
Make cool stuff (One of Bennett’s favorite things to do)
To live as true as Bennett did
The perfect computer art fractal
To be seen
To feel connected
Calm, smile, love
The photo hangs in the common area of our space as a tribute to Bennett and a reminder.
What strikes me about what we collectively want is that, in a space full of freelancers, independent professionals, startups and small businesses, there is not a single mention of money, funding, being acquired, selling more, getting more clients, material wants or income goals.
In the end, that stuff falls away.
Now I’ll pose the question to you: What do you want?
In your space, in your community, in your life, in your heart?
It’s a good question.
Thanks, Bennett. <3
Note: Bennett helped inspire Check Yo Mate, a global movement to start more conversations about mental wellness.
Photo of Bennett: Jules Holdsworth
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