December 12, 2009

Nascent Makerspace Emerging

This week I put aside my normal tinkering to help some friends organize a makerspace in Urbana. This is an organization dedicated to enabling the mashup of arts, humanities, hard and applied sciences and technology. Learning and collaboration are key goals here, so you know I'm all over that like white on rice. I figure every minute invested on making this idea into reality is well spent, since I realized the value of bringing together a community of artists, technologists, students, scientists, mathematicians, kids, tradesmen, tinkerers, dreamers. It is well spent because the collaborative nature of the effort should yeild more "eureka!" moments than if we all journeyed separately (as I've been doing in this blog). It also allows us to give back to and support each other in many more tangible ways than just sharing knowledge on a page. Additionally, I realized I may be able to reinforce my knowledge by actually putting together some ideas and presenting them to an audience, not to mention applying what I know to other interesting problems presented. All around, it's a very attractive idea, both from selfish and benevolent standpoints.

We have no name yet. We have a mission statement draft, some starting organizational designs, and several enthusiastic individuals who are willing to sacrifice time, talent, and treasure to make the idea a reality. We are on the verge of having a 500 sq ft. space nailed down. We have piggybacked our association such that we will start out of the chute with 501(c)3 nonprofit organization status. As I write, we are inventorying all of the tools we have already and all the stuff we need. So much yet to accomplish. I'll keep you all posted, so stay tuned.

Until then, keep your irons hot. A makerspace* may be coming to your town.

* NOTE: "Makerspace" is synonymous with "hackerspace" or "hackspace", but since the news media and government has taken the term "hacker" and projected it to the masses as lawlessness and destruction, to prevent confusion we will refer to our effort as a makerspace. We will however display the glider logo, as we truly do identify with the hacker culture as defined by ESR.

"Respect the Past, Examine the Present, Build the Future" (hackerspaces)
"Hack the Spaces"
"Building the MIlwaukee Makerspace" JSOnline, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Noisebridge Vision Statement

If you are around the Urbana-Champaign area and are interested in making stuff with us, message me, either through the comments or via DM on twitter.

Additionally, if you wish to help by donating or lending equipment such as a CNC mill, oscilloscope, drill press, lathe, MIG welder, or other maker gear, contact me either through the comments or via DM on twitter. 

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