Editor’s note: Madison Worthy and Miriam Engle are biking across Europe, visiting different Makerspaces, and filming Self-Made, a documentary about their adventure and the Makers they meet. You can find the other parts to this series at the end of this article.
We are Madison Worthy and Miriam Engle, and we are biking across Europe to film a documentary about the Maker Movement. So far we have biked 800km through three countries. We’ve stopped to interview Makers in seven cities. We don’t bike every day, but when we do, we average 67km. Each of us with our bodies, bikes, and gear weighs over 100kg!
Our mode of transport is thoroughly sustainable and enables us the freedom of enjoying our surroundings. In the past weeks, we’ve pedaled south from København, though northern Germany, and into Holland. We’ve watched summer warm up the continent. We’ve dodged some rainstorms, have splashed through others. Our awkward tan lines grow darker as our chains revolve.
We’re two and a half weeks into our bike tour, and we’ve already done so much. In København we accosted strangers at the Lakes and asked what made their city special. Replies dealt mostly with the active bicycle culture. We watched schoolkids build their own speakers at Fab Lab Nordvest. In Næstved, we caught a short ride with Det Mobile Fab Lab, a Fab Lab bus that visits schools and community events all over Denmark.
Crossing the border into Germany, we took a small detour to Kiel, where we Couchsurfed with an international student of material sciences at the University of Kiel. In Lübeck, we Couchsurfed with a mechanical engineering student, who even accompanied us on our visit to Fab Lab Lübeck. It’s remarkably simple to convert people to the Maker Movement.
After Lübeck, we started biking west and arrived at our second major city on the bike tour route: Hamburg. Founders of Fabulous St. Pauli hosted us in their home, and spoke to us at length about the philosophical pillars of what it means to be a Fab Lab. Around Hamburg, we set up our tripod and camera in several public places, and once again invited random people off the street to tell us why they love their city. A local street musician performed a small concert for us at the St. Pauli fleamarket. On our final evening in Hamburg, we visited Rote Flora, a squatted community theater that hosts a bicycle repair gathering every Monday, and we learned a bit about fine tuning bike gears.
We continued pedaling to Bremen, where we interviewed students and advisors at Fab Lab Bremen about how the Maker Movement is kindling more knowledge application and inter-disciplinary cooperation in education. We crossed the border into the Netherlands a couple days later, and swung into Groningen, another bicycle capital. The city is teeming with youthful energy and entrepreneurial drive. We discovered that the Maker Movement is inspiring more start-ups, as access to the proper tools can make pursuing a customized profession possible. This movement could contribute to a change in the way we earn and spend money.
Every day on this tour feels like a journey in itself. Every person we talk to vibes positivity. Change is something to embrace, and we’re so impressed by all the thrilling things we’ve learned. We’ll be in the Netherlands until the end of the month, biking our way along the coast to Amsterdam and then working our way south. It may have taken us close to three weeks to get this far — a journey possible in one day by automobile — but we’re totally self-propelled and self-powered, taking our time to learn about the communities we pass through.
Our documentary about the European Maker Movement will be called Self-Made, the story of creative communities. There’s been a lot of interest in our project, and we’re still looking for stories to promote! If you’ve got something exciting going on, we’d love to hear about it. Learn more about where we’re going at Madulthood.