Maker, public speaker, writer, traveler, and father Travis Good remembers vividly the first Maker Faire he ever attended in 2010 and notes, “Since then, my life hasn’t been the same.” Good (pictured above) is the driving force behind the first full-fledged Maker Faire San Diego, taking place across 10 museums in Balboa Park this weekend, October 3 and 4. The energy and enthusiasm that Good projects are contagious. With his ever-present genuinely warm smile and impressive networking prowess, he’s a testament to the catalyst one determined Maker can be within a community. With the help of his organizing team, they’re about to make history in San Diego. We connected with him to learn more.
1. What inspired you to organize the first Maker Faire in San Diego? Who else is involved with organizing the event?
Back in 2013, a rag-tag team gathered around the shared passion of bringing San Diego its first Mini Maker Faire. That success only fueled our interest in bringing change through making, and we formed the San Diego Makers Guild. Our vision is help develop San Diego into a nationally known Maker city.
On Dale Dougherty’s recommendation, we went in search of an institutional partner to host our next Maker Faire. Steve Snyder, CEO of the Fleet Science Museum, was our first key partner, which allowed us to go broad by partnering with Peter Comiskey, director of the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership. This brought us into a collaboration with as many as 28 of the member institutions.
In addition, due to the success of the Mayor’s Maker Challenge in San Diego, Mayor Faulconer decided he wanted to co-sponsor the event, declared Maker Faire the “Fall Featured Event for the City of San Diego,” and became a partner in the process. Given the good relations with Tijuana, the city and Tijuana Innovadora also became partners to help make this a binational event.
Lastly and very significantly, Qualcomm became a key player. They see the Maker Movement as important to the future of education and innovation in the region, and they stepped up to be our Premier Sponsor.
2. How big is the space where the Faire will be held?
Balboa Park is San Diego’s central park, which is celebrating its centennial this year. It’s the heart of San Diego: 40% larger than New York’s Central Park and home to 28 cultural institutions. Ten of the museums are our partners in delivering Maker Faire, and they span a walking distance of over half a mile. Thankfully we have tram service.
3. Tell us about your previous involvement with Make: and Maker Faire.
Back in 2010, while on a road trip visiting business incubators across the U.S., I made a fateful decision. I was in San Francisco and decided to attend Maker Faire Bay Area. Since then, my life hasn’t been the same.
Briefly, I became a student of the Maker Movement. This included visiting makerspaces, attending Maker Faires, and meeting Makers, all of which I wrote about for Make:. Then, in collaboration with Dale, we started the Hardware Innovation Workshop for Maker Pros, which later morphed into MakerCon. Out of that grew my Maker City focus that begat collaborations with museums, libraries, and city governments across the country. Contributing to the Mayor’s Maker Challenge led to San Diego committing to more goals than any other city, which, in no small way, led to Maker Faire San Diego.
4. How has the Faire been received by the community so far?
There’s an exciting buzz in the air for Maker Faire. To be honest, since this is our first full Maker Faire, it’s hard to judge. However, if applications to exhibit are any indication, then it’s being very well received. As of this moment, we have 310 applicants to our Call for Maker. We’re thrilled!
5. What makes the Maker community in San Diego unique?
Much like the “neighborhood” character of this eighth largest city in the U.S., San Diego has a huge variety of making. We benefit greatly from the mixing of cultures and traditions that comes with being close to Mexico. Our region excels in many industries, which affects what we make: computing and communication (Qualcomm), drones and aviation (military contractors), health and medicine (biotech and research), and outdoor activity (great weather all year). We also have some of the finest schools around, from High Tech High to UCSD, which promote making at every level.
6. What motivates you to do the hard work of organizing a Faire?
I believe that getting back to making is fundamentally important to the future of innovation and education. As a consumer society, we’ve lost touch with how the world around us works, without which we can’t improve upon it. Furthermore, in a world of ever-increasing change, it’s important to learn how to learn and how to keep current. The skill of iterative improvement as applied to the world around us addresses both of these. This is making.
10 Big and Awesome Projects to See
There are well over 200 Maker exhibits scheduled for this weekend. Check out a map and plan your day wisely. Here are 10 jaw-droppers to whet your maker appetite.
A project of the Starburner Galactic Courier Service, Strato Sculpin was originally made for the 2013 San Diego Mini Maker Faire in December, but outdoor exhibits were rained out that year. Take note that SGCS is “the galaxy’s only bonded courier service operating throughout time and space, delivering sensitive documents, private communications, and packets anywhere, anytime, in any dimension.”
Organ Donor Project
Created by the Sol Diego Burning Man Art Collective, Organ Donor is “an acoustic pipe organ with varied and novel interfaces allowing extreme interactivity in unexpected ways.” The video shows the organ in action at the YouTopia event. The team even made a poster showing how the organ was constructed.
A San Diego native, Lindsay Lawlor’s Electric Giraffe project needs no introduction in Maker Faire circles. This 16-foot, robotic Faire favorite has been spreading smiles and good beats since the very first Maker Faire ever. Now he’ll be making the rounds at his own hometown Faire.
Originally started as a “cooperative, distributed, art car project” by Acme Muffineering, the cupcake cars have been seen at a number of the major Faires and they never cease to please. There will be four San Diego-built cupcake cars at the Faire.
Centennial Railway Garden
The San Diego Model Railroad Museum built the Centennial Railway Garden as a garden installation in Balboa Park, where the Faire will take place. Take a miniature trip back in time to the Panama-California Exposition and visit a scale-model version of Balboa Park. Kudos to the SDMRM for even sharing an Instructable of how they made it.
Maker Shane Evans is the mastermind behind the 30-foot-tall human-controlled, articulated, fire-spewing sculpture named Robot Resurrection. Did we mention it’s made with 95% recycled airplane parts? Yup, genius!
Giant Walking Pod
Have you ever seen a 12-legged, solar-powered, walking geodesic dome robot? If so, more than likely it was Sacramento-based Scott Parenteau’s mesmerizing Walking Pod. If you haven’t, now’s your chance.
Battle Pond VIII
The nonprofit Western Warship Combat Club is extremely serious about 1/144 scale ship combat. Battle Pond is like as a real-life game of Battleship, featuring roughly 20 wooden replica battleships with real miniature artillery floating in a 27,000-gallon ocean. These historically accurate WWI and WWII battleships, torpedo cruisers, destroyers, and submarines battle and yes, sometimes they even sink.
“Amelia Mouse” Piano
Ramon Yvarra bought a piano from a seller on Craigslist and recalls, “While I was cleaning it, I found an empty mouse’s nest under the minor keys. So I created a backstory about a mouse that loved music so much, that she made her home in a piano.” Yvarra overhauled the player piano so that it’s now controlled wirelessly by computer and has a large LCD screen that makes the music visible in patterns and color. Yvarra showed the piano at Maker Faire Bay Area, but he’s added new circuitry that will allow people to play the piano and see the visualization change, and he’ll be debuting that feature in San Diego.
Game of Drones Fight Club
The masterminds behind Game of Drones orchestrate the world’s only drone combat sports league. This high-energy, high-flying drone competition is guaranteed to make necks crank and jaws drop.