What's a makerspace?
To describe them simply, makerspaces are community centers with tools. Makerspaces combine manufacturing equipment, community, and education for the purposes of enabling community members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn't be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. These spaces can take the form of loosely-organized individuals sharing space and tools, for-profit companies, non-profit corporations, organizations affiliated with or hosted within schools, universities or libraries, and more. All are united in the purpose of providing access to equipment, community, and education, and all are unique in exactly how they are arranged to fit the purposes of the community they serve.
Makerspaces represent the democratization of design, engineering, fabrication and education. They are a fairly new phenomenon, but are beginning to produce projects with significant national impacts; notable projects and companies to emerge from makerspaces include the Pebble Watch (a programmable watch whose team is the recipient of the largest Kickstarter campaign in history), MakerBot (creators of a low-cost 3D printer that's revolutionizing the entire rapid prototyping industry), and Square (a painless payment gateway enabling small businesses to collect money easily worldwide), just to name a few.
What's this event?
Artisan's Asylum and MAKE are teaming up to put on a weekend of presentations and discussions about how to make a makerspace. The goal of this event is to give attendees a roadmap and the resources needed to start the process of creating sustainable makerspaces of their own, while also introducing everyone to each other and forming a support network for the long and arduous process of space development and creation.
Who's this for?
This event is targeted towards helping individuals and organizations (including schools, universities, libraries, real estate developers and more) who are looking to start a makerspace in their community, and helping existing spaces who are looking for assistance to get fully on their feet. This event is not intended to be a networking event for existing spaces with robust operations.
In order to accommodate as many groups as possible, we're asking that each group send no more than 3 representatives to this event. This will help us serve as many groups as possible.
What's the program?
How To Make A Makerspace will be a workshop weekend spanning February 1st to February 3rd, 2013. Workshops will take the form of presentations, panel discussions, and moderated group discussions. Presenters will include experts in their field (including city government representatives, insurance brokers with makerspace experience, bankers and lawyers) and leaders of makerspaces across the country; the exact speaker lineup will be announced closer to the date. The rough schedule (subject to revision) will be as follows:
Friday, February 1st (Networking and Introductions):
Meet & Greet
Tour of Artisan's Asylum
Catered Dinner and Keynote Presentation
Saturday, February 2nd (Lectures, Panels and Presentations):
Startup Track Sessions (Track 1):
Identifying Your Community
Finding Money, Tools, and Space
Makerspace Business Plans
Starting a Community
Building Code, Insurance and Liability
Sustainability Track Sessions (Track 2):
Cat Herding 101: Governing a Makerspace
The Role of Teaching
The Road to Sustainability: A Comparison of Makerspaces
Balancing the Budget: Finding Sustainable Revenue
Building a Community
Story time: Funny stories and horror stories from community leaders
Sunday, February 3rd (Resources):
Teacher Training Workshops
Vendor Exhibition: Meet representatives from companies making products for makerspaces
Like Minds Introductions: Group networking sessions broken out by type of organization
Feedback Sessions: Bring your ideas and your plans to experts for analysis and feedback
Note that most meals are catered; the point is to keep everyone in the same area for as much time as possible, to encourage off-the-cuff conversations and connections.
Will there be documentation of the event?
Yes, in many different ways.
All participants will gain digital access (and printed files if desired, for a nominal printing fee) to a number of documents prepared by Artisan's Asylum and MAKE. These include, but are not limited to, examples of membership agreements and waivers, Articles of Organization, filled out Form 1023 applications for non-profits, budgetary planning documents for both startup and steady state operation, insurance summaries, architectural documents, tool training syllabi and safety programs.
During the event, MAKE will be videotaping and documenting all the discussions and presentations given, and will host videos and any files generated on Makerspace.com. All participants (and any other future makerspace founders) will be able to access the information generated there. Mailing lists and forums will also be generated to keep participants in touch with each other, if they so choose.
Who's organizing this?
Artisan's Asylum, the host and main point of contact for the event, is the largest makerspace on the East Coast. The Asylum has grown organically from a 1,000 square foot after-work hobby for two people to a 40,000 square foot cultural institution in two and a half years' time, which now serves over 250 members a month. The space is a unique blend of a "traditional" makerspace (with a significant educational program and several different shop areas) and a small village of over 140 private rental studios. The result is a vibrant community of makers who collaborate, teach each other new skills, and create projects like Stompy the 4,000 pound hexapod, a laser harp for Popular Mechanics and RadioShack, the Rascal microcomputer, and the Node.js tank robot, among others.
MAKE unites, inspires, informs, and entertains a growing community of resourceful people who undertake amazing projects in their backyards, basements, and garages. MAKE celebrates your right to tweak, hack, and bend any technology to your will. The MAKE audience continues to be a growing culture and community that believes in bettering ourselves, our environment and our educational system - our entire world. MAKE reaches out to the maker movement through efforts like Make Magazine, Maker Faire, Makezine.com, Maker Shed, and Makerspace.com.
(More sponsors coming soon! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or your company would like to get involved and want more information)