[hackerspaces] Who currently has the best, most functional hackerspace model?

Ben Brown ben at generik.ca
Tue Jul 5 20:17:23 CEST 2016

Those are some very good points. Without a thriving community, a
hackerspace is just a box with tools.

Despite Kwartzlab's original mandate was more or less 'by members, for
members', we do a lot of outward-facing events. We team up with other
organizations to teach skills. We have repair cafes and other things to
interact with the community at large. We don't really do a lot of
member-specific events anymore... the AGM is about the only one.

We focused on community a lot in the early days -- spontaneous
hackathons, talks, parties and what not. It also helped that we all
contributed to building the actual space together, which created a lot
of camaraderie. When we moved in 2013, we gained some core members by
building out our 2nd space in a similar fashion.

I'm thinking we need to do more like this... at least get everyone in
the same space more often.


On 7/5/2016 1:40 PM, Silence Dogood wrote:
> I think one good question anyone in this list needs to ask themselves
> is who their hacker space is servicing?
> For some on the list the answer is 'the public'.  For others the
> answer is some specific 'community' or 'communities'.  For still
> others it is more of a, if I build it, they will come mentality.  I
> think the latter approach is doomed to failure.  The first and second
> approaches are specific and very very different.
> NYC Resistor focused on community first.  From the very get go, the
> organization pulled in the people it wanted as members to help
> contribute back to it's community and advance it.  As a result, we've
> enjoyed a relatively mild eight ( jesus has it been that long? ) year
> run.  And the fact that we are a homogenous community whole makes that
> a lot easier to achieve.  Our membership operates with the full force
> of the organization behind them.  And we are pretty much on board with
> agreeing with consensus decisions. 
> A public oriented space faces the problem of community hijacking. 
> Hackerdojo saw this.  And it was regrettable, but not ultimately
> destructive to the organization.  One community ended up being edged
> out by another, but the organization lived on as something new.  In a
> similar way, even NYC Resistor has changed as members have come and
> gone over the years.  But, there is a difference between a gradual
> shift in culture, and a sudden and abrupt shift that leaves some
> feeling as though they have just been robbed of their investment.
> Other issues facing a 'public' space are many.  So the questions of
> who does your space serve will have a huge impact on what the criteria
> are for success, and what models will work for you.
> On Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 1:24 PM, Ben Brown <ben at generik.ca
> <mailto:ben at generik.ca>> wrote:
>     Finance-wise, Kwartzlab has never been in the red. This has been
>     achieved by being fiscally conservative of extra spending and proper
>     reporting -- we always know where money is and for what purpose.
>     Keeping
>     the doors open and lights on is the priority, we've never considered a
>     new space that we can't sustain with our current membership. Most
>     of our
>     big tools have come from grants/donations and member-driven group
>     buys.
>     We've also kept an emergency fund of three full months of operational
>     expenses (rent, hydro, etc) that we've never used, but it's good
>     to have
>     just in case.
>     Our biggest problem is we don't have enough new members interested in
>     the general day-to-day operation of the space. Traditionally the
>     board +
>     small number of volunteers take care of most things - cleaning,
>     upgrades, new tools, etc. However a lot of our core group (including
>     myself) is burning out after seven years of operation. Our last two
>     boards were appointed without a vote because we didn't have enough
>     interested nominees.
>     If anyone's got some insight on successful ways of combating member
>     apathy I'd love to hear what worked!

>     Cheers,
>     Ben
>     On 7/4/2016 6:11 PM, Shirley Hicks wrote:
>     > Hey everyone,
>     >
>     > For those of you who visit other hackerspaces, who has the best
>     financial and operational model? What organizational models have
>     you looked at/borrowed from in order to improve your space?
>     Looking for a couple to study in an effort to improve how the Red
>     Mountain Makers is operating.
>     >
>     > Shirley Hicks
>     > Red Mountain Makers
>     > Birmingham, AL
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