Recognizing that growth and education are important at all stages of life, Sara Emhof created The Huddle, a cozy nook on Spring Street in Newport, where a chalkboard wall fosters creative vibes the moment you enter and programs cover everything from life coaching to crafting. On the one hand, it’s a modern coworking space for company retreats, but evening workshops and classes nurture community-wide connections.
And it all started in a Zoom room. Emhof, chief experience officer at The Huddle, worked in civil education for years, a job that centered around building relationships with and amongst students. When the pandemic happened and so many people were experiencing feelings of isolation, Emhof sought a way to kickstart conversation and camaraderie that folks were craving. Her solution? A virtual mixer of sorts.
“During the first six months of COVID, I was hosting these virtual huddles of strangers, where we were playing and connecting and building community every week. I realized how important play and creativity and connecting authentically were for people, especially in this time,” says Emhof. Once COVID restrictions eased, “I felt this call to create a physical space that has the same essence, where people can connect and create and play together.” Thus, The Huddle was born.
The mission of this classroom-meets-coffee-shop spot is to “make meaningful connections,” says Emhof, “and we do that by providing the space and experiences that inspire creativity, conversation, and growth.” The Huddle’s diverse class offerings allow groups of strangers to meet and learn together. Coworkers and companies can also rent the space for off-site team meetings or private workshops that encourage relationship-building and growth.
Classes range from crafting tutorials and cookie decorating to cryptocurrency lessons and tarot card readings. September was the start of a six-week course for women focused on self-discovery and clarity, as well as Cowork Mondays for remote workers to congregate. The Huddle recently partnered with the LGBTQ+ organization Newport Out, which hosts a monthly Queer Connections group with a focus on making friends while bonding over books, games, and movies in a safe space, with more programming in the works.
Last fall at The Huddle saw families and friends gathering for a pumpkin painting party, an autumn mocktail class, and other festive fun hosted by local entrepreneurs. This season, there’s still availability for teachers to bring their seasonal skills to the classroom with new workshop offerings.
Emhof created The Huddle to give locals a chance to teach and share experiences, or simply to network and expand their social circles. “It seems to be a magnet for curious people who are looking to connect,” she says.
Find upcoming programming and space reservation details at TheHuddleRI.com or visit The Huddle at 42 Spring Street, Newport.
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