[hackerspaces] Establishing hackerspace and getting people actively involved

john arclight arclight at gmail.com
Mon May 10 05:13:02 CEST 2010

We recognized this pattern early on with our space.  Instead of trying
to get a large paying membership base established, we basically
started with 3-5 "do-ers" who could immediately commit to a certain
level of money and time. We have kept the space small (around
1,000ft^2 plus a loft) and focused mostly on being sustainable and
being just large enough to do everything we want to get done with our

In our case, the monthly expenses are kept low enough that 2-3 people
could pay the bills for a while if it really came down to it. Nobody
wants to be the "membership leader," so we keep the span of control
small and only have a tight core membership, a secondary tier of
"regular" attendees who help with shop improvements and sometimes
donate, and a third tier of "irregular" participants who randomly show
up but are, of course, welcome any time a key holder is present.

You can do a shared workshop with as few as 2 people if you find the
right deal on a space and set realistic goals. The monthly cost goes
down as you bring on a few more "trusted' participants, but your
financial risk stays the same.

We've targeted sustainability over growth and so far it has worked for us.

Perhaps you should identify the 2-4 most dedicated people in your
group, see who can commit to what monthly cost, setup cost,
willingness to be on a lease, etc and then start talking to landlords
and see what can be done on your budget. You might find a nice
warehouse or store front that hasn't been leased in 2 years, and an
owner who will make you a deal. Once you have keys in hand, I've found
that it's not hard to get folks to show up and build things or help
out or even donate stuff. The key is that you have to be the


On Sun, May 9, 2010 at 6:01 PM, Nick Farr (hackerspaces.org)
<nick at hackerspaces.org> wrote:
> On Sun, May 9, 2010 at 19:15, Adam D Bachman <adam.bachman at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> You don't need to simulate what a space would be (with projects
>>> and talks), you just need to be genuinely excited and show people
>>> you're going to do it - with them or without them. They'll come.
>> The "with them or without them" was huge for us at Baltimore Node. We set a
>> target for costs ($800 a month) and once we had enough people willing to
>> guarantee support for 6 months, we signed a lease. All the well wishing and
>> "that sounds like fun!" gets you exactly nowhere.
> "Doers and Makers" usually lurk on the sidelines until something
> *actually happens*.  They're usually too busy doing things on their
> own to get involved with a group effort that might go nowhere.
> It's a well established pattern (since the presentation that McFly
> cited) that it takes 2-6 people to "do all the work".  Often, it's
> usually just ONE person who's doing all the work, collecting the
> money, filling out papers, etc.
> Once the space is open, people start showing up and it takes off from
> there.  Whoever that one person is can usually safely find others more
> than willing to pick up the administrative slack.
> In short, BE that one person.  Don't stop until you have the keys to a
> nice new space.
> Nick Farr
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