All posts by Impacthub

02 Jul 2017

Living with Conviction: Sentenced to Debt for Life in Washington State

Accomplished attorney, documentary photographer, and longtime Hub member Debbie Espinosa presented at our July community lunch which explored the injustice of Legal Financial Obligations. LFOs refers to both discretionary and mandatory legal fees imposed upon defendants at the moment of conviction. These fees can range from $25 to $5000 and have a shockingly high interest rate of 12% in Washington State, which begins accruing immediately. Once defendants leave prison, they have 30 days to begin LFO payments or they risk arrest. The end result? People who emerge from prison hoping to build better lives and are instead burdened with incredible amounts of inescapable debt.

Debbie introduced her friend and colleague Carmen Pacheco-Jones, whose story illuminates the power of resilience and hope in the midst of a broken judicial system. Carmen is currently an educator working with women who have experienced extreme trauma, such as sexual abuse and assault. This is an area that touches deep for Carmen. “That’s both my history and past,” she says.

Carmen became a ward of the state at 12 years old and moved through 13 different foster and group homes before finding herself on the streets. She became a victim of human trafficking, found out she was pregnant with her first child, and began battling addiction. Over the years, she struggled to support her five children and was convicted of welfare check forgery.

While in prison, Carmen was charged $89 a day simply to be incarcerated. The system left Carmen unable to become a thriving member of society, as she left jail with over $40,000 in accrued LFO debt. She recalls moments when she had to miss rent payments or turn off her electricity in order to make her monthly LFO payment. Now, Carmen is 18 years clean and is proudly watching her children attend college and her grandchildren live life outside the child welfare system. She successfully completed her GED and bachelor’s degree, but every month she continues to make payments on $8000 of remaining debt.

“The system is so broken it prevents people from starting over and creating a new life,” says Carmen, adding that in some circumstances, employed co-defendants are forced to pay unemployed co-defendants’ LFOs. “I don’t understand how a court system which presents [itself] as rehabilitative penalizes people who are working.”

Even worse, some public defenders never inform their clients about LFOs. Debbie interviewed a woman named Traci, who was arrested and spent 58 days in jail for failure to pay LFOs that she never even knew she had. “I lost my children, I lost my Section 8 housing … I was shattered,” Traci said. “So I just slipped right back into addiction for the next seven or eight years. I didn’t know what else to do.”

This past spring, the ACLU and various NGOs pushed forward a bill to reform LFO debt by reducing the interest rate. Ultimately, the bill did not pass the Washington state legislature, which Debbie attributes to the legislature’s vested interest in preserving the LFO revenue stream.

The first LFO payment is required 30 days after release from jail, a time when many are trying to find suitable housing and a stable job. Finding a job can be a huge challenge for former convicts. “I’m offended to my core, shocked by the amount of stigma around this issue,” Debbie reiterates. There seems to be a never ending cycle of struggle, and individuals are still marginalized even outside the prison system.

But there is always hope. Here are ways that Impact Hub members and the community can help:

  1. Stay informed and tell friends about the LFO policy and its impacts.
  2.  Share your opinions with your local and state legislative representatives on this issue.
  3.  Support businesses with second-chance friendly hiring policy, or implement this policy in your own business.
  4. Support non-profit organizations that assist people with re-entry issues.

For more information, please contact Deborah Espinosa at and visit

29 Jun 2017

Solar Activation on Tribal Land

Impact Hub company 7 Directions Architects celebrated the activation of their solar photovoltaic system for the Skokomish Tribe Community Center. The system is designed to achieve Net Zero for the 22,000 sf building. This will be one of the first Net Zero buildings built on tribal land. While the full project is still under construction, the solar panels are already contributing energy back into the grid and earning credits for the Skokomish Tribe. Learn more about the project here!

7 Directions Architects’ work seeks to design climate responsive, green architecture and to achieve more with less, a fundamental principle of sustainable design. 

28 Jun 2017

ACT NOW to support social change in Venezuela!  

“I repeat to myself everyday that what is happening in Venezuela and in many other places in the world is not normal.

People has taken the streets because we have no food, no medicines, no basic services.

82% of Venezuelans are officially poor. 67% of the population is eating only once a day. They have lost 9 Kgrs on average in the last year.

Babies are dying in hospitals, kids are dying out of malnutrition, sick people is dying because there is no cancer treatment or medicines for any illness.

People are being killed everyday by our government that became a dictatorship. People are being arrested illegally everyday just for using their right of peacefully protesting. I have friends in jail, many.

Impact Hub Caracas cannot operate right now under normal circumstances. Some days we cannot even arrive to our space. But in the middle of this disaster, which is living like in a civil war, wonderful things happen. Our community still growing because more than ever entrepreneurs need a safe place where to work or get connected or achieve their dreams. Our community is providing soups, collecting medicines and supplies, organizing plays and theater to reflect about what is happening, have organize different ways of keeping our population informed via social media.”

– Claudia Valladares, founder of Impact Hub Caracas

The current climate in Caracas in nothing short of unacceptable for healthy human living conditions and Impact Hub Caracas is taking action and needs our help. Impact Hub Caracas is acting as a community space for the members of its city to find support, medicine, as well as the crucial conversation that their city is so in need of right now. They could use our global support, so Impact Hubs across the globe are coming together to help raise $10K – and we are calling on our global village for good to help us do it. CONTRIBUTE TODAY!

27 Jun 2017

Sound On for this startup’s journey to change the world of digital radio

Africa Business Radio deems itself a media platform with a purpose, driven to provide content that offers success for business across Africa. One of the 6 startups from Fledge9, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, founder Soji Akinlabi has grown this business from just 1 streaming radio show two years ago to over 15 shows today. Each show strives to ask the question: How will this information help local and foreign business owners do business in Africa? Topics that are broadcasted on ABR might range from addressing an unpredictable African business environment to having a local startup on a show to talk

The past five weeks at Fledge have been eye-opening and challenging for Soji and Africa Business Radio. The multitude of different perspectives voiced and the incredible amount of advice shared by mentors has helped move the business plan forward.

New goals have been set, a new financial model has been built, and new plans are being made to include future Africa Business Radio conferences in Johannesburg, Nairobi, Kigali, Lagos, Accra, and other major cities across Africa. With just a microphone, Africa Business Radio has provided a voice for business in Africa with more yet to come.

Hear the rest of Soji and Africa Business Radio’s story at Demo Day on June 7. Tickets are on sale now – RSVP today!

26 Jun 2017

Impact Hub Johannesburg featured in Entrepreneur Magazine

“In America, as everyone knows, entrepreneurs love talking about failure. “Fail fast, fail often” has become a mantra of Silicon Valley, where fortunes are made by people who only years prior had crashed a well-funded startup into the ground. Failure has become almost a badge of pride — an experience recast as a lesson learned, a skin thickened, an entrepreneur seasoned and more fully prepared to succeed.

In Africa’s emerging startup communities, however, failure still carries a heavy stigma. Failure doesn’t make you stronger; failure makes you a failure. And the consequences of an entrenched unwillingness to talk about it can be bad for local economies and catastrophic for small-business people.”

Lesley Donna Williams, founder of Impact Hub Joburg, was recently featuring in this candid article about failure in Entrepreneur. Read her story – and the stories of several other African entrepreneurs – here!

25 Jun 2017

This Armenian Ed-Tech Company is Changing the Way we Run our Schools

Written by Martha Burwell

Can an ed-tech company improve the lives of Armenia’s children? Suren Aloyan, the founder of Dasaran, has proven that it can. His company has leapfrogged traditional models of education, using the latest technological innovations  to create Armenia’s first comprehensive e-Learning portal.

In the past seven years, Dasaran has virtually connected all 1,501 schools (including principals, teachers, students and parents/guardians) in Armenia and Artsakh, an unrecognized republic to the east. With their team of just 37 staff, they’ve catalyzed an overall “13% improvement of performance and 22% decrease in truancy among school students.”

21 Jun 2017

Interview with Majora Carter

“The impact is not going to happen when you’re just being completely safe and you’re doing things the same typical way. But when you’re really pushing up against the boundaries of what’s possible – especially in cities and especially in those places that most people have given up on – THAT’S when things will change.”

Watch Majora Carter’s interview as she discusses the Future of Cities on Impact Hub’s YouTube channel

21 Jun 2017

Michael B. Maine

There’s nothing like opening up the newspaper and finding an Impact Hub member on the front page!

Long-time Impact Hub member and resident photographer Michael B. Maine’s recent appointment as President of the Board of Reel Grrls was featured in a Seattle Times article last week. Reel Grrls is a local organization whose mission is to support young people to explore, critique and author media through a feminist lens. Michael is the seventh board president of the organization and the first male-identified person to hold the title.

From the article: “Feminism is not just a women’s issue,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest thing that I would hope this kind of situation portrays. Everybody can care about equal rights and equal access for anybody.

21 Jun 2017

Red Bull’s Creators of Tomorrow


In 2014, Haiti Babi had the incredible opportunity to participate in the filming of Red Bull’s new show on social enterprise – Creators of Tomorrow. After a whirlwind year of filming, the 10-episode show was released earlier this year. Follow the stories of three social change companies – Waves for Water, Haiti Babi and IluMexico – in this exciting and intriguing series about social entrepreneurs working to create sustainable businesses in Haiti and Mexico. Enjoy the show!

21 Jun 2017

Why We’re a BCorp

Last week I briefly shared that one of the things that we’re excited about at Impact Hub these days is that we received our re-certification as a B Corporation earlier this month – and now I’d like to share a bit more about WHY this means so much to us.

B Corps are for-profit companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. I often explain it to people as a certification that is similar to LEED for buildings, or Fair Trade for products.

B Corps represent a movement that is redefining what success in business looks like. B Corps are companies that utilize the power of business in order to solve social and environmental problems.  We became a B-Corp because we wanted to be part of a community that shares our values, mission, and energy for creating the world in which we want to live.

We’ll be honest – undergoing the reassessment was NOT an easy task. As we evaluated all of our vendors, counted our team’s collective volunteer hours, and reflected on our current governance structures, we identified MANY ways that we can improve our score – and our impact – in the future.  Addressing these areas for improvement is just one of the committees we hope to form within our Member Advisory Committee that will launch this summer. 

If you’re curious about becoming a B Corp, the best person on our team to ask is Susan, our Operations & Finance Manager who took the lead on the re-certification process. You can also find tons of information and search the B Corp network on their website!
Who Else is a B Corp? 

Impact Hub Seattle is the first coworking space to become a B Corporation in the city of Seattle – but we are not the only within the Impact Hub Global network: AmsterdamLos AngelesGenevaBoulder, and San Francisco are all also B Corps.

Several of Washington State’s B Corporations make their home at Impact Hub Seattle – get to know Bigger Boat ConsultingFledge LLC, Community Sourced Capital , and Starvation Alley Farms!

We will also be collaborating with Finnriver Cider and Miir in the very near future – while we have always been fans of both companies, our renewed B Corp affiliation inspired us all to start working together more closely… happy hour with Finnriver  and double-wall vacuum insulated Impact Hub/Miir water bottles are coming soon!