Grow a Networked Community of Maker Places

Maker spaces can be thought of as a blending of the best of hacker and DIY communities into a project based learning model. Maker spaces also require "place-making," which takes on different culturally embedded forms of social life and connectivity.

We are witnessing the elasticity of maker places to emerge in new scales and proportions. At the local level, make spaces are still primarily dispersed and disconnected; they tend to act as silos of activity or as segregated spaces with institutional barriers to mixed-usage. The goal of our initiative is simple: grow a networked community of local maker places to share resources and build alignments across our diverse collaborations, the region and the world.

The Elasticity of Place Making
Maker places emerge in a variety of cultural forms and spaces. From hackerspaces and tool libraries to fabrication and playlabs, makers spaces are finding roots across the world in a diversity of spaces: public schools, churches, universities, libraries, community centers, museums, commercial properties, warehouses and rented houses or basements.

We often use the metaphor of public libraries to describe them as "playgrounds of the imagination and collective world making." Part of that is the idea of democratizing spaces: they are collaborative, intergenerational learning environments and they offer multiple literacies for sharing civic life. More broadly though, there are three models we see as becoming commonplace.

  • Maker Places for Games
Game based maker spaces often emphasize: 1) learning through play and building, 2) connecting the digital to hands-on tactile discovery, and 3) project/inquiry based exploration. Kids in front of computer screens can still dominate this, but we're seeing new linkages between games and 3D printing, Arduino kits, DIY controllers, Kinect hacks, etc. Two good examples are Game Desk's PlayLab and the Institute of Play ([[@http://www.gamedesk.org/playmaker-school/) ]];(http://www.instituteofplay.org/work/).

  • Maker Places for Manufacturing or Fabrication
The second version is an innovation manufacturing lab. Make is working with DARPA to set up maker spaces in U.S. high schools so that:

"students can have access to tools and equipment that they might not have otherwise; they can collaborate on projects that are driven by their own interests, and by doing so, develop the capacity and confidence to innovate. We see making as a gateway to deeper engagement in science and engineering but also art and design."

  • Maker Places for Community
The third version would be hacker spaces/DIY community workshops. We particularly enjoy GEMSI's model, whose mission is to build "inclusive communities focused on service and taking initiative from Baghdad to Detroit and beyond" Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative

For a general overview, the pages at http://makerspace.com/ and at http://hackerspaces.org/wiki/ are starting points. Also see our pages on Maker Places.


A Collaborative Framework for Maker Places
Our maker place initiative is being developed through community collaborations to align resources alongside a shared vision and set of values that guide our partnerships, services and operations. We are working with the Portland Metro Stem Partnership Collaboratory and Motive Space to grow a networked community of maker places.

Open sourcing a network of maker places means:
  • creating sites of access and the autonomy to make together
  • connecting communities of learners and building bridges across gaps in services and programs
  • sharing resources and success to create safe, intergenerational learning environments.

By creating places for shared creation and discovery, we seek to promote economic and social resilience for all through our communities. Our first test run for a "pop up" maker space is with the Rosewood Initiative, a community development project in East Portland. Please join us on June 8th for "Let's Make Rosewood," a demo and community conversation about the possibilities for maker places to invigorate community connectivity and world-making change.