[hackerspaces] A New Hacker Has Joined Your Party!

Jerry Isdale isdale at gmail.com
Sat Jan 15 07:30:30 CET 2011

Jumping in a bit late but my 2cents (non inflated)

The closest I've seen in my travels to a hackerspace is 23b, mostly 'cause they are DefCon folks but their space is one cool shop with welding gear, mills, lathes, and assorted other things that I removed from my blog post about them.  Very fun cool bunch of people.  Most US spaces seem to be a mix of people teaching, learning, hacking, circuit bending and making.  The educational component seems to be classes taught in-house to adults. Sometimes these are fairly well organized with advertising, registration, etc and other times they are on-the-fly meet-ups.  I'd be interested to hear from spaces that are doing ed outreach into community, especially to schools.  Education can also be offered to visitors to your area.  I took a couple classes at NYCR when I was in town.  If your area naturally gets visitors/tourists, take a clue from the agri-tourism industry and offer some make-cation experiences.

Ross mentioned I3 is working with local Detroit schools on FIRST Robotics.  I am a rookie mentor for a rookie team here on Maui.  Are there other spaces that are involved with various robotics competitions?  I see it as a good way to get word out about the space and recruit members (other mentors, older kids, parents etc).

Community building is also a big part of my interest in *spaces.  The a-social geeks huddled over laptops cracking DoD systems view of hackerspaces (per movies, Faux News, etc) is not a very sustaining (or realistic) model imho. A space needs to cultivate its own internal community and it also needs to be reaching out into the wider community/society around it - both to draw in new members, and to improve the world members live in. Teaching the wider community skills may or may not bring them into the space as members, but it can help improve the local economy, making it easier for members to find/keep jobs, buy food, etc.   Yes I like to make things and our Maker Space will support that big time. Educating others with our skills (and learning theirs) will help keep the space going with more members and/or people who want products made by members.

I got a chance to our new local mayor before he was (re)elected. He seemed genuinely interested and even grasped the utility of teaching locals how to make locally.  He said he would be happy to support us and I have an appointment with his staff to work on that now.  He held office as Mayor before and was instrumental in fostering small business and high tech, so I am encouraged.  I would like to see some shared discussion and wiki posting about people's experience getting involved with The Man.  I'd hope the hackerspaces.org wiki would host that and not generate antagonism within our net'd community.

Hooking in with the local Burning Man folks has also turned up a lot of interest from people who have little interest in digging into computer in-security.  Flaming arduino controlled propane, EL-wire sculptures/costumes, dancing bodies painted with laser cut stencils, and more are projects these people are bringing into our space - both for the mainland BM and our local SourceMaui.com festival.   Local Ag folks are also posing great project challenges and contributing energy/classes, etc.

I like Phoenix Asylum's offering of extra space to members for projects at an additional cost/mo. It helps members with larger projects and no space at home, and also helps cover rent on larger space. It is a model I am working with too.

All that said, many folks may disqualify our Maui Makers as a true *space as we dont have a physical home yet (aside from my garage).  I hope to change that soon, but its a bit hard to find the right space on such a distributed small, yet large island. It has to be convenient enough to attract and hold enough core members to pay rent.  (not having a physical space probably disqualifies us from cupcake challenge too... but we will still accept them and open at a group meeting/party.)

Mahalo for listening

Jerry Isdale
(formerly of CrashSpace.org)

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