[hackerspaces] Establishing hackerspace and getting people actively involved

Jens Christian Hillerup jens at hillerup.net
Tue May 11 21:48:28 CEST 2010

On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 7:48 PM, Nick Farr (hackerspaces.org) <
nick at hackerspaces.org> wrote:

> On Tue, May 11, 2010 at 01:52, Jens Christian Hillerup
> <jens at hillerup.net> wrote:
> >
> > In Labitat we had a general assembly with nine participants last year.
> > Before that we had one or two meetings with slightly more people. At the
> > general assembly we decided we wanted to make a hackerspace, so we set
> down
> > a board and *all* worked towards raising money for workshops before we
> had a
> > space.
> This seems to fit in with the pattern.  However, as I've noticed it,
> while 4-12 people sit on the "board" or are the core organizing group,
> it ends up being 1-4 people who do the leg work of collecting the
> money, filling out the papers, searching for a space, etc.  How did
> Labitat end up dividing the work equally?

Well, work wasn't divided equally, but people generally didn't seem to mind.
After the general assembly and founding of Labitat as an organization we got
a lot of members, some directly from hackerspaces.org, some from word of
mouth, and some from a postering campaign we ran at universities and
schools. So we had a board, yes, but that was mostly for the paperwork. We
like to say "being in the board gives no more power, only more liability."
So the people in the board (myself included) were the people wanting to run
the various risks included with banks, leases, etc. but they weren't
actually the most active with regards to renovation, workshops, etc. People
seemed to understand and respect that we all have different amounts of time
to devote to the space at different times of our lives.

> > Sometime in October last year we held an Arduino workshop paid for
> > from some money ($3000) that we won in a "project battle" against ~20
> other
> > youth-related projects in Copenhagen.
> This is definitely cool!  Do you have links or more info on this?
> (Perhaps I'm running into language problems GTFAing my question...)

Yes, I definitely have links, and no, you will not run into language
problems. Pretty early on we decided to document stuff in English, so have a
look at the page Arduino workshop:
https://labitat.dk/index.php/Workshops/First_Buckler_workshop  --  or the
wiki in general at https://labitat.dk/. We have some members from England, a
new guy from Germany, and we welcome everyone -- therefore our wiki is in
English. Also, we switch to English (orally) if we have any non-Danes in the

> January through March 2010 we were renovating ev-e-ry-thing and only last
> > month we held our public opening with journalists and media people.
> I think this is definitely unusual...while each space I know of does
> some renovation, going from trashed-to-space seems a bit odd.  HacDC
> renovated a new room that opened up in our building, but that process
> continues to this day.  (We just got better power down there.)

I have a note to add here, perhaps even a design pattern. In Labitat
somebody suggested having a digital cigar box to which the members could
lend money in order to bootstrap the space. We needed to pay a three-month
deposit of our rent, get paint and cleaning supplies, etc. We discovered
that it was remarkably easy to get people to lend money to us, so what we
did was we signed a legally binding mortgage deed, everybody was happy, and
we were good to go.

This way of bootstrapping enabled us to get from zero to hack in very, very
little time, even though our space was a complete mess (a complete mess with
a very low rent, mind you :-) ). Now, more than six months later, only one
person has asked for his money back, so this really, really helped us. We
will pay back members when we get some unallocated funds -- which should be
pretty soon.

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