[hackerspaces] Establishing hackerspace and getting people actively involved

Koen Martens gmc at har2009.org
Sun May 9 19:08:09 CEST 2010

Hi Jarkko,

On Sun, May 09, 2010 at 06:06:37PM +0300, Jarkko Moilanen wrote:
> We have problems getting things started here with our hackerspace. We  
> have punch of people hanging around this still virtual hackerspace. In  
> our meetings, there is only about 5-6 participants. People seem to be  
> reluctant to start any projetcs. The reason for this reluctancy seems to 
> be that we are still missing our IRL space. I disagree partly. Not every 
> project needs a separate space. To get some activity (projects) we need 
> active participants. When we have activities we become more attractive 
> and gain more members. Of course the space is in the top 2 wanted list.
> But again, no members -> no funds and no funds -> no space. We (well  
> this means at least me) are now willing to lower our expectations for  
> the first space and just get one.
> People seem to wait that 'someone else' does all the work. I have seen  
> enough that type of people in my life. I was not expecting to see that  
> type of people in this hackerspace 'project'. Have I gathered (lured)  
> wrong type of people from the start. Where are the doers and makers? We 
> dontä need people who just talk and talk. How do we get people more  
> involved? We are still in the beginning and kind of stuck. We started  
> (well I did) gathering people for this hackerspace about 10 months ago. 
> The hangarounds (about 10) seem also reluctant to participate to  
> community related issues, in other words building virtual tools and  
> environments for the community. Community which is starting does not  
> happen itself, it needs people to DO stuff. Moreover it needs things to 
> be done that are not so important to single person but for the whole 
> community. I am loosing my faith in establishing a hackerspace in 
> Tampere. Any thoughts?

This sounds very recognizable to what we went through in revspace
(The Hague, NL). Of course, we're only in it for about 6 months now
with an actual space, and maybe 2-3 months before that meeting at
my office.

In the beginning, when we did not have the space, the meetings would
attract around 10-15 people every two weeks, and we'd first brainstorm
about the space, later started to do some presentations, but it did not
go well at all with bringing in some actual content into those meetings.
But we persisted, and when we got the space, we first got to work in 
making it work for us. Put in network infra, gather furniture from here
and there, getting the heating system to work. That brought some live in
the group. But after that, it died out again.

But still we persisted. I tried to organise some workshops, which were
succesfull. Then others initiated workshops. We had some parties, and
basically we had a full house every tuesday.  

Currently, there's a bit of a decline again. Although there are some
cool projects now (makerbot, multi-touch table, there's plans to experiment
with directional microphones, etc..) there's generally not more than 5 or
10 people in the space on busy days, 2-3 on an average day.

I guess these things go in waves. We keep attracting new people though,
and with 25 paying members we're still relatively small, although we'd 
never expect to have that many within the first half year (we projected
25 at the end of the year). I think once we get aroud 50-60 members,
things will become more lively.

Anyway, whole story, but my main point is: just don't give up! If you
have a small core group of people who want to make it work, you will
most likely succeed. There will always be people who are more dedicated
and thus do more work. It can be frustrating, but only if you put up
high expectations. Just let go of your expectations, don't worry if things
are not panning out the way you planned them, and let things happen the
way they happen.


Koen (gmc)

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