Plan C Live: How Can We Mobilize Government Support For The Maker Response To Crises Like COVID-19?

Maker News
Plan C Live: How Can We Mobilize Government Support For The Maker Response To Crises Like COVID-19?

Join Make Community, Nation of Makers, and Open Source Medical Supplies for an open discussion of what government could do to assist and support the civic response of makers in the future, and what kind of policies would bring about much needed collaboration.

Date Recorded: October 1, 2020 @ 4pm PT / 7pm ET (Live Notes Google Doc)

Prototypers and makers stood up as first responders when the global medical supply chain broke this year as a result of COVID-19. Designers created and shared open source designs for critical medical supplies and devices (see the OSMS Project Library or the NIH 3D Print Exchange), and makerspaces, community groups, and local manufacturers developed robust production lines that fabricated millions of PPE and medical supplies when we needed it most.  This kind of global collaboration and widely distributed localized production is something new to governments and their agencies.

Most of these makers, designers, engineers, and Local Response groups were not understood, connected to, or supported by US government emergency response efforts. This Plan C episode is a discussion meant to stimulate ideas and approaches on how things could work better in the next emergency.

  • What are our “ASKS” to government at various levels to organize and support Makers as Emergency Responders?
  • What policies, agencies, or initiatives need to be changed or created? 
  • What funding is needed? Where will or should it come from?


  • Sabrina Merlo, Head of Local Response at Open Source Medical Supplies will open the discussion by sharing a draft federal policy memo that asks for the creation of a U.S. Digital Stockpile and a U.S. Manufacturing Reserve. Sabrina is researching and drafting this federal policy recommendation memo as a 2020 fellow in the Day One Project Policy Accelerator. Read and comment on her draft memo here.
  • Daniel Correa, Director of the Day One Project and previous Assistant Director for Innovation Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will provide insights and reactions from his lens on developing policy recommendations.
  • Will Holman, Executive Director of OpenWorks makerspace in Baltimore, MD will share his experience shaping policy in his region.

Plan C co-hosts Dorothy Jones-Davis (Nation of Makers) and Dale Dougherty (Make: Community) round out the discussion on makers, federal policy, and advocacy.

Good data is pivotal to this discussion and the policy research supporting it. The OSMS/NOM Community Impact Survey that is open now to makers, designers and manufacturers is a step in this direction — fill it out if you haven’t yet!


Sabrina is the Maker Faire Program Director. She works on stage content for the flagship fairs (Bay Area & New York), and also runs Maker Faire's global licensing program for locally and independently produced Maker Faires. She also co-creates the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in her town, Oakland, CA.

View more articles by Sabrina Merlo