[hackerspaces] Trenton NJ

Shirley Hicks shirley at velochicdesign.com
Mon May 2 22:11:26 CEST 2016

We ran an entire volunteer effort during our startup. It’s been hard work - and my 3/4 time focus for the past two and a half years. 
Our story is at http://www.velochicdesign.com/category/red-mountain-makers/ <http://www.velochicdesign.com/category/red-mountain-makers/>. I’m due to write another year recap (which while moving slower than we would like, is all good) We’ve begun scheduling classes and workshops, and are preparing for a larger push in the fall, with a focus on pre and post-college outreach (we talk to the fledgling on-campus group and have advised other suburban library-based efforts)

Short version, the space we landed was larger (5,000 sq ft) and more expensive than we really needed to get going. But it was what we could get into (other landlords with more appropriate space didn’t return our calls), so we sucked it up and got on with it. It required more work to renovate that we originally estimated, and it took two years to do what, if we had had the cash, would have taken two-three months for pros. We had a core group that has stuck with the effort through thick and thin, while getting out legal stuff in place, and IS and IT systems built out, and it actually grew about 25% each year through the worst of it. This spring, we’re starting to run _good_ classes and if we continue like this, will pick up speed over the summer and start shifting the culture our city. 

So, you _could_ say that we wasted two years of operating budgets ($25,000/yr) and the time when if we’d had $50,000 (the estimated cost of the renovation of another space - which will probably be our next space). OTOH, the core group is _tight_ and while membership has churned more than we’d like, our network is infitrating the small city tech community quite nicely.

As soon as I finish the next iteration of our website (learning curve here) we will be applying for grants with other community partners to get more stuff started and laying the groundworks for a fundraising campaign early next year. Our finances, although slender, are going in the right direction.

The shape that we are taking locally is grass roots, bottom-up - and that alone is quite a change for the ‘ham. 

Shirley Hicks
Red Mountain Makers

> On May 2, 2016, at 2:46 PM, Crawford Comeaux <crawford.comeaux at gmail.com> wrote:
> Arclight's advice is commonly given, but really important.
> I thought my project was the exception to the rule and maybe it could've been if everything had been executed perfectly, but banking on perfection is a fools game. We had a perfect location, people and businesses with tons of equipment to donate, and lots of people chomping at the bit to join. I raised money to pay a team (myself & 3 others) to setup a non profit org, research needs, and make a plan. We put personalities before principles when choosing the board & they immediately started dictating what the team should be pursuing based on the board's vision. I started the whole project from my own vision of a space accessible to all, including the poor, but didn't communicate that to others well. There were constant clashes & little progress, leading to a cheap giant warehouse going unused for months, no equipment donations taken in, and nothing being made. We probably also poisoned the local community's good will toward such an effort for the future.
> In hindsight, I think there's a way to make the approach we were taking work, but I think trying to do that is so risky that all financial backers need to know up front they're likely throwing away money.
> Point being: don't be like me.
> Find your tribe, discover what defines you all, and how you like to work/play/learn together before bringing money into the equation.
> And a weird side thought:
> 12-step groups for addiction recovery operate using what they call the 12 traditions. They make
> On May 2, 2016 11:50 AM, "Arclight" <arclight at gmail.com <mailto:arclight at gmail.com>> wrote:
> My experience is that getting one-time funding is not the problem you
> need to solve. "Build it and they will come" doesn't really work with
> hackerspaces.  What you need to do is "Get everyone to come and then
> build it."  Without a core community, there would just be a big, empty
> building that only sort-of serves the needs of those who show up.
> Start small, post meeting invites everywhere, and get a community
> started.  It's only when you have people to share the work and be
> willing to provide recurring support to the space that you should seek
> funding for one-time costs like moving.
> Arclight
> On Mon, May 2, 2016 at 5:19 AM, Mike  Dupont
> <jamesmikedupont at googlemail.com <mailto:jamesmikedupont at googlemail.com>> wrote:
> > Hi there,
> > I am now convinced that we need to create a makerspace for Trenton NJ,
> > is there anyone who might be interested in working on such a project?
> > Any tips on fundraising ? Are there any grant applications or
> > documents about starting a space you can share?
> > thanks,
> > mike
> >
> > --
> > James Michael DuPont
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