[hackerspaces] Experiencing Democracy For The First Time

tetsu yatsu tetsuharu at gmail.com
Mon Oct 19 06:18:11 CEST 2009

FAMiLab is still small. We're not incorporated yet, our open-house is
scheduled for January, but we've been using a space that I am leasing, and I
wanted to share this story.

We've been around for about 3 weeks now. The first week was exciting, but I
can't say we had a lot of good work space. I was worried that 800sqft wasn't
going to be enough, but after the first day, I felt like we'd never fill it
up :). We got some steel shelves, some ikea desk furniture, and folding
tables. Recently, two of our members put up a nice long wall-bench.

The first Red-Bull and Mountain Dew fueled Friday night, we took a ceiling
tile off and hung a mannequin from the ceiling. That sounds like a pretty
interesting thing to do, but it was obvious at the time. I was there for the
mannequin hanging, but about 4 days later someone drew murder-scene chalk
body outlines (with masking tape), and taped a saw to our Mannequin's hand.
I thought this was just genius.

A couple days later, I told the member (who I thought did it) that it was
pretty awesome, and I asked if we could keep it. He said the tape was
beginning to peel, but we could paint it. The question was then, can we
paint this carpet in a space we lease month to month? Moreso, the question
was 'who do we ask?'

I assumed I'd ask the person who did it. He's a few years older than me, and
better situated professionally. I guess I considered him a senior. I thought
back to a few paragraphs ago, and remember that I am personally leasing the
space, so, would it be my decision maybe? Should I talk to our landlords, or
a lawyer?

It wasn't the mannequin or the murder scene outlines that took me by
surprise, (in fact no one has been surprised by the mannequin so far) it's
that question. All these crazy and stupid things we do in normal society are
based on a juxtaposition to the arbitrary heirarchical authorities around
us. They own it, so we ask them for permission. We don't have a heirarchy.
We own this. There's no one above me to 'check with'. There's also no one
above me to take the fall.

I was finally left with only my own sense of personal responsibility to make
my decisions.

I feel like many of my peers only engaging in corporate or academic
environments are missing out on this important experience.

I see now that the hacker ethic has a very real association with personal
responsibility and restraint, something that most uneducated onlookers don't
get right away when I talk to them.

(hope that wasn't too long)
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