My first visit to Rhode Island was in 1990. I vividly remember getting off I-95 at the downtown Providence exit and being confronted by a multi-story pile of dirt at the end of the ramp. I became lost as I wandered beneath the highway overpasses, challenged to find the heart of the city. After moving here for college in 1991, my quest expanded beyond Providence. Over time, I became captivated by the diversity of people and ideas that I discovered wandering through so many small towns mostly by bicycle and occasionally by car. Almost twenty years later, that pile of dirt is long gone, replaced by revitalized buildings and newly invigorated community, but I have found what I had been looking for. A spirit of creativity and fostering innovation, what Bert Crenca, founder of the local community arts organization AS220, has described as the “compost heap” of art, design, technology, science and more, has come to define my experience in my adopted home.
Maker Faire RI , for me, is a celebration of this innovative spirit and the impact it has on peoples’ lives. In addition, it is a showcase for the cool projects people are working on in their garages and gardens, kitchens and basements, workshops and community centers. As an affiliate of MAKE Magazine and part of the larger Maker Faire community, we are bringing an event to Rhode Island and New England to gather together local Makers, Innovators, and Creative Thinkers. Our goal is to catalyze sharing of ideas, make connections between those with varied interests, and create opportunities for teaching and learning.
Maker Faire Rhode Island consists of a series of events organized by a dedicated team of volunteers and coordinated with other partner organizations. We begin with a kickoff party September 6th, during the Rocktucket Block Party, part of the Pawtucket Arts Festival.
The second event is a fundraiser for The Steel Yard in Providence, on September 12th. Come enjoy a family barbecue while watching local welders and artists compete for the title of Iron Chef Steel Yard.
From September 14th through the 17th, we have hands-on D.I.Y. workshops in Pawtucket at the Slater Mill, the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. An historic mill building and working museum steeped in the history of industry and innovation in this country, the Slater Mill workshops are a great opportunity to connect the history and future of innovation in America. We’ll wrap up the workshops with a celebration at the art gallery and recording studio Machines With Magnets in Pawtucket.
Moving back to Providence on September 18th, we’ll meet the Makers at JTJ Investment’s Eco Office, at 27 Walcott St. This is the only “Net-Zero” office building in Rhode Island, and is the new home to a leading regional renewable energy concern, Alteris Renewables.
Finally, Makers will showcase their projects, gadgets, inventions, products, designs, technologies, fancy foods, and much more at the Maker Faire at Waterfire. With an audience ranging from 10,000 to 100,000 attendees, we expect to have a fantastic family friendly event.
The Iron Chef fundraiser requires a ticket purchase. All other events are free to attend. Workshop instructors may provide kits for sale at the Slater Mill D.I.Y. workshops.