[hackerspaces] New Hackerspace Encouragement - What are your humble roots that got your space off the ground?

Deech deech at ninjacow.net
Wed Oct 12 17:10:33 CEST 2011

I looked back and found a few spaces mentioning this here and there, but
nowhere did I see a thread just for it...

So, we see new spaces springing up pretty frequently and posts from folks
saying "How did you do it??". I'm thinking in this thread let's point out
the humble origins and let new spaces know that they are not unique in their

I'll start, but I'm sure other AR folks can chime in with more details.

First, we are Arch Reactor in St. Louis. We currently have about 2400 square
feet in an awesome building in the southern part of town. Our membership
varies, but we have about 29 full dues paying members and anywhere from 3-15
supporting dues paying members on any given month. (our dues are $30/month
and $10/month respectively)
We have a lots of tools, tables and workspaces. A projector, mame cabs,
laser cutter (in progress), 3d printer, cnc routing table, micro-lathe and a
bunch of other great stuff. By most standards, reasonably successful so far.

However, we started from typical humble beginnings. The first group (I
wasn't a part of) met in the food court at a local Pizza World. They
numbered around 8. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over what
the hackerspace should be (grey hat or white hat), if there should be dues
or not, etc. etc. Money was collected in a coffee can each week.
That group finally split up over ideological grounds and they fell back to
about 3-4 people still talking about it. That's about where I came in. A
member that maintained apartments had an empty one that we were able to meet
in for a little while. In the end, we only had 5 core members who decided to
bite the bullet and agree to split the $500 a month rent for the first year
to get off the ground. It was a gamble that paid off, because once we had an
actual space, we gained members so rapidly we outgrew our first space in
about 5 months.

The rest was the easy part. We had enough members to pay the increased rent
for a new space, moved there, and kept pulling in new members as fast as we
could. We currently pretty much break even on the rent and bills, mainly
because we charge such low dues, but we're making it work.

So, how did your space get off the ground?

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