[hackerspaces] Is making alliances with education institutions good for a hacekrspace?

William Macfarlane wmacfarl at gmail.com
Fri Oct 18 17:03:07 CEST 2013

I'm going to ++ the idea that "educational institutions" is not a
descriptor of one kind of thing.

Parts and Crafts has had relationships with a university, museums, public
schools, and we talk pretty regularly with folks in our local library
system about doing stuff with them.  All of these relationships are really
different, both in how we go about the, and in what we want to get out of

What are you looking to get out of such a relationship?  Money?
 Publicity/members?  Respectability?  Jobs for your members (something I
think is actually super-duper important because I think that any
alternative-style educational institution should do at least a little bit
of thinking about jobs and credentialing since jobs and credentialing are
more often the reasons why people go to particular educational institutions
than the education itself)?  Interesting projects?  A chance to make an
impact outside of your normal circle?  A chance to help out and support an
institution that you respect and value?

P+C is abnormal as a Hackerspace, because we mostly work with kids and
families and one of our major projects is running something
not-entirely-unlike a school in our space, so we have particular needs and
priorities that aren't the usual ones.

>From universities we want 1) money, 2) work-study students to teach
classes, 3) students to come in and hang out and do/make interesting

>From museums we want 1) publicity, 2) money, but we actually also consider
museums to be partners in creating informal educational spaces, so there's
more of a sense of partnership -- especially as museums get more and more
excited about having hackerspace-like-spaces inside of them, we're pretty
psyched about being part of these developing conversations since we think
we have a lot to offer and a lot to gain.

>From schools we want 1) an outreach opportunity beyond our immediate
community, 2) a way to deepen ongoing relationships with
families+community, 3) afterschool-teaching jobs for friends, members,
colleagues, etc

>From libraries we pretty much just want to do stuff in libraries because
libraries are great.

But if you make sure that you're doing stuff that you're excited about
doing, and make sure not to put yourselves in places where you feel like
you're being taken advantage of, then relationships are likely going to be
good and valuable.  And if something stops working you can always stop
doing it.  I wouldn't worry too much ahead of time, I'd just make sure to
steer the relationship in ways that were happy-making as it develops.

On Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 5:58 PM, Thomas R. Koll <tomk32 at gmail.com> wrote:

> Am 16.10.2013 um 19:52 schrieb Florencia Edwards <floev22 at gmail.com>:
> > I wanted to ask you what you guys think about this. At our hackerspace
> people who manage it are trying to make some strategic alliances with
> universities, schools, culture centers... But I think it's not good. A
> hackerspace is an alternative to this institutions and methods of
> education. Making an alliance only makes this institutions try to use the
> hackerspace their way (they have more power), trying to preasure us to
> adapt to their methods of education, what their students need, special
> workshops... I don't know. Maybe I'm wrong, . I love everyone to know about
> a makerspace or hackerspace and to come here to explore, but this
> institutions have a way of imposing or forcing things…
> Correct me if I'm reading your mail wrong, but this
> "university trying to influence the hackerspace" is not happening yet,
> it is just some kind of worst-case-scenario you can imagine to happen?
> Also: unis, schools, cultural centers, that is quite a wide range of
> organizational forms
> which each work completely different than the others.
> My advise, try find people instead of organisations. Unis don't hack,
> people do.
> If then a partnership, alliance or sponsoring evolves from this then it is
> a much more natural evolvement with happy faces all around.
> It's nice that you think about worst-case-scenarios but please don't make
> the mistake to go in an opposition. Sure, unis around you might be
> ancient dinosaurs, but there's always smart people in unis who want create
> something better
> and you do want them in your hackerspace.
> Even if it's only for an entertaining Friday night lecture on cats in
> boxes.
> ciao, tom
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