[hackerspaces] hackerspace demographics

Steven Sutton ssutton4455 at gmail.com
Tue Jan 15 07:23:16 CET 2013

Responding to the original question -

In my opinion, the way that I've seen this conversation approached in the
past is kind of a double-bind.

On the one hand, you can say "no, we don't have a strategy that brings in X
kind of people" and that can seem insensitive.

On the other hand, you can say "yes, we do want to bring those X folks and
we intend to do that by making assumptions about what they like and
catering to those." Then, you're making another mistake and stereotyping a
class of people that you want to bring into the community.

There is a different way to have this conversation.

What you can do is examine the culture of your space. If your space has
developed a positive, welcoming, humble culture then people that don't
quite fit into your culture as it is today can still feel comfortable. If
you're not there yet, then it is worth looking into driving the culture of
your space in that direction. This gets into soft skills and personal
development, which is difficult for some to understand but totally
necessary for growth and diversity.

Therefore, my strategy is help the culture of the space grow in those
respects while building bridges with tons of other outside organizations so
that we can work together on outreach efforts and diversify the cultures of
our spaces. We've started the conversation with a tech/programming-oriented
space north of us, two spaces that are getting ready to start up
specifically geared toward kids (one hosts Brownie Scouts on a regular
basis), an art-oriented makerspace, an adult basic skills education
foundation, a non-profit art community, and several more.

So this is an issue that should be addressed within the culture of the
space and also with the interface between the space and the community
surrounding it.

I feel like if we can develop our culture to be welcoming and humble, than
everything else will fall into place. If we diversify to address broad
interests both within and outside of our space, then outreach initiatives
offer a compelling message and high retention.

Maybe I'm being na*ï*ve.

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