[hackerspaces] Starting a hackerspace ( Winchester Va)

Nathaniel Bezanson myself at telcodata.us
Thu Sep 29 08:57:26 CEST 2011

To add slightly to what others have said:

"Find the others" is the most important bit. Attracting them is easier
than hunting them, so get in social mode and advertise your brains out...

Come up with a name, register a domain name, and start a bloggity thing.
If you're not struck immediately with an awesome "gotta have it" name,
just register something generic like "winchester hackerspace". If
something perfect comes along, you can switch, but you might already have
good name recognition under the generic. And it's good for SEO.

Kill some trees -- paper flyers can work, especially if you have a local
DIY fair or something where you can get a table. They reach people that
might not think to search for you online, and that diversity of interests
is important. You mentioned that the local 2600 is defunct, but those
people still hang out somewhere. Find them.

Realize that the point of having a space is to provide resources and
opportunities for people. To some extent, you can do that without a
dedicated space, just by meeting and talking in whatever locations are
available. Reap the rewards of collaborative projects and publish writeups
of their outcomes, to show people what your group is about. The fact that
the physical space is forthcoming, well, that's just a detail.

Find someone who knows about things like insurance, certificates of
occupancy, fire code, all that jazz. Learning it yourself often involves
expensive mistakes.

Find someone who knows about incorporation, state business paperwork,
taxes, and stuff like that. If you need bylaws, start with a generic set
and tweak to your needs, rather than starting fresh. (Blending in isn't a
bad thing, in terms of government rubberstamps.)

Find someone who knows about PR and social media. If you shudder and
squirm at the very terms (like I do), it may be very difficult to cozy up
to such an individual. It's a bullet that must be bitten.

If you know people with these skills, who you think might have the time
and energy to devote to such an endeavor, but they don't have the bug yet,
it's roadtrip time. And not a whirlwind tour -- the more time your
fledgling core group can spend at other spaces getting a feel for how they
operate, the better.

Start collecting dues as soon as you have a treasurer to keep them. If
people will chip in a few bucks each time they attend a function, you'll
be surprised how fast the money grows.

In real-estate terms, aim low. "Plan to throw the first one away", as the
software people say. We (i3 Detroit) moved after about a year, into a
space that we couldn't possibly have started in. But we operated spaceless
for several months before even looking at real estate.

Good luck!
And do keep us posted on your progress...

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