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So You Want to Make a Makerspace?

So You Want to Make a Makerspace?


Makerspaces are fantastic resources in their communities, offering classes and tools to aspiring and expert makers alike. But how do you start a space? So You Want to Make a Makerspace is a workshop, held on the World Maker Faire grounds, that explains how to get you started. Presenter Gui Cavalcanti helped found Artisan’s Asylum, one of the most successful makerspaces in the world. Attending the workshop are thirty aspiring makerspace founders including representatives from schools, libraries, and museums.

How do you measure success in a makerspace? Artisan’s Asylum sports 350 paying members, 250 student members, 240 volunteers, 150 instructors, they’ve taught 600 classes with 3,500 unique students, and member projects have raised $4 million in Kickstarter funding and $3.5 million in venture capital. One of the most intriguing aspects of the space is that they have achieved gender parity — my own space is around 90% male.

However, Gui was quick to point out that AA is a very unique situation. The demographics of Somerville, MA, is close to a lot of industry as well as big-name engineering schools. It’s also a very dense city with 77,000 people crammed into a very small area with many residents don’t having room for workspace. As such, they were able to find enough members to support a huge (40,000 sq. ft.) space, and half of the members live within one mile.

It was inspiring hearing from all the guests about their motivation for being at the event. They’re from a very diverse set of backgrounds in terms of age and geographic origin, and about half the audience is female. They all come from different kinds of institutions and mostly don’t follow the stereotypical hackerspace model of a bunch of electronics enthusiasts hanging out in a warehouse.

One key point Gui made was that the desire to make and the motivation to find tools to fulfill that desire are qualities found everywhere, and these are the core of a successful makerspace.

We’ll be livetweeting the workshop all day — look for the hashtag makeamakerspace to follow along.

4 thoughts on “So You Want to Make a Makerspace?

  1. The Air Pirates (continued) says:

    Yep, it would be IF TOOL MAKERS (from sewing needles to precision CAD/CAM lathes, milling machines and really accurate 3D-printers, 2D-printers, , pH meters and other lab equipment, any company with “State of the Art” last week, and just upgraded anything) and supply manufacturers (Mitsumi and its competition mechanics, electronics, pigment and paint makers , Fabric, thread and yarn suppliers, scientific equipment supplies, almost any manufacturer of anything or computerized office with yesterday’s state-of-the-art software, BOOKS that didn’t get perfectly bound, raw plastic, metal, wood …) AND people with old, legal but unoccupied for the long term lofts, factories in the suburbs, and even space in the exurbs would realize what they could reap in tax benefits and general better-experienced employees, new products they can license or help patent to boost the local economy and contribute to the greater good, we coiuld have maker-spaces in almost every and any community where the local BBB or gov’t will toss in the much-less-than $1000 needed to secure a 501(c)3 NfP corporation, insurance for those who waive accidental injury liability claims, maybe encourage off-duty engineers, etc. to volunteer or get local business to contribute staff time- a few hours a week, we would have them everywhere, problem is companies look at such things as “losses” (though Apple Computer, taking a page out of the old Digital Equipment Corp playbook got to be big NOT with necesserally superior products (Apple II v IBM PC?) but because they put products in young makers’ hands and they became accustomed to (creating a world where an expensive, partially neutered PC that can only be expanded or improved by expensive company products has a full-scale faith behind it the much larger (in toto)PC manufacturers cannot match (my apology if I offended your particular religious sensibilities- I’d love a large Apple pad or Air to use as a extremely smart terminal VPN’ed to MY home-built PC network – it is as bad as photography’s Cults of (alphabetically) Cannon, Leitz, and Nikon).
    Convince them to donate, or at least cut prices by @70%, send staff too and be prepared for a better world. Who let Disney, the Anti free-play (kids, these are plastic figures or clothing based on that movie you saw so you can re-enact your favorite scenes) Anti-competitive (and we’ll buy Little Rock TV and build a dozen other cable channels and destroy the Whole Earth Catalog folks (Portola Institute) for supporting the right to parody (Dan O’Neil’s famous Mickey Mouse Meets the Air Pirates) be a biog player in THIS thing, we don’t need stuff pre-packaged and hypercorporate!

    1. Air Pirates says:

      Well, the Disney-Sponsored Make event at Flushing Meadow Pk was so kid-oriented, in its own media and promos – I just didn’t go.
      Certain corporations and their foundations are too dangerous to the freedoms Make pushes us to do to the limit. (Bill and Melinda Gates funds pulled their sponsorship from the PBS (McNeil/Lerher) News Hour over a lack of “transparency” of editorial decisions on what stories to pursue and what not to – in othr words, Bill wanted to get in on what news would be featured and what would not, forcing the most trusted TV news source to seek to pick up more independent short docs/news pieces) very hard to vet for accuracy and bias, and more exchanges with BBC and other foreign correspondents Not Good for TV news, as Disney’s kid-push was not good for the NY Makerfest – OK kids NEED to be inspired these days when their computers (and mainstream o/s’s) range from difficult (the apparent “need” for over-the-top graphics, when a command line would do, and insanity and expense of getting the data on the lowest, best level of programming (solder and assembler due to the rejection by, it would seem everybody, of RISC CPUs, and basic editing and assembly tools as a necessary part of the OS (WinTel) to the near impossible deliberately manufacturer-closed world of the WinMacs.

      I am sorry that when I gave my (then 9-year-old) niece her first computer she got an old IBM laptop loaded with Win 95 instead of DOS with a Dartmouth Basic interpreter and FORTRAN, An assembler and TECO. Next time I gift a kid – depending on budget it’ll be a Lego robotics kit or if times are tough, a Raspberry Pi

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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