2018 Rocky Mountain Makerspace Summit – Collaborative Notes

2018 Rocky Mountain Makerspace Summit

Collaborative Notes

Saturday July 28th, 2018 @Denver Public Library

Session 1: Community Building & Outreach

  • Gregory @ ArtGym – want to build a community, but have specialized equipment – but finding that the folks who actually know how to use the equipment already have setups at home.
  • Kat who does things – NOMCON sharing, women feeling alienated and/or segregated into their own events; workshops/classes as an idea to engage more people (hot pockets and sewing pockets, welding and wine) – giving people a chance to feel comfortable before learning skills
  • Tom w/ GIzmoDojo – testing out “club” concept – 3D printing, woodworking, etc. clubs – $5 for nonmembers, free for members
    • Finding lots of folks want to come and talk about topic, but don’t necessarily want to be members
  • ArtGym gets push back from paying members when they try to do open events bringing in nonmembers – metalsmith workshop, fiber arts
  • Mat from denhac – he’s the one who wrote the subject down. SUSPECT IDENTIFIED.
    • He was aiming for community between makerspaces
    • Let’s work for an intercommunity of spaces – helping each other
  • Kat brings up that communal work brings people together –
  • Jeanette – director of CO Maker Hub, member of PP makerspace
    • To build a community: projects bring people together, classes, clubs
  • Karen – a million ways to have a makerspace
    • You can be a private makerspace, it’s okay really
    • To bring new members in tho you need training
  • Robb – group projects, shared hardship & project should be based around something for space – it’s super visible, builds pride and ownership in space
    • Language – “the space” means they don’t feel ownership, they’re a customer, or “my space”  they have pride/ownership in space
  • Jeanette – projects can be collaborative across spaces – we could be building a network better
  • Denhac is heavy on IT/sec folks, maybe they can share across
  • Dan – onus is on members to build community – what about a “bring a new maker to work” event – reach out to group – we need more members, what should we do (collectively) to do it. We need an orientation day for new members – when should we do it? Have to make case to membership and make them part of the solution.
  • Brady w/ ArtGym – how do you outreach to niche groups? How do you find specific people who have this very specific need for equipment?
    • Maker Hub is a good start
  • Hub is doing an October “making in CO” marketing blitz – a lot of grassroots, word of mouth, finding meetup groups, etsy, local to you and reaching out individually
  • DPL is positioned as a transitional space, for people who don’t know how to get started in making.  Each space has their expertise, identify those expertise and integrate each other expertise together, share knowledge and build up the maker ecosystem
  • Best practices to communicate with members, ..
  • Dual membership between community spaces and library spaces, library spaces for education and exposure to tools, limited time and resources, at which point do they ‘graduate’ from the library makespace to another space, or community space, keeping communication and collaboration between publics spaces and community nonprofit spaces
  • DU Makerspace, first focus is students, need to put together a program to lower barrier of entry for making, basic knowledge, basic techniques, ex. Focusing a laser, maintenance, safety, standardized and common questions and procedures,
    • How can we work together best to take all our independent K and create a unified training system/common knowledge?
  • Schools are going through a lot of similar transitions – teachers w/o tech/maker backgrounds are being asked to teach subjects they’re not comfortable with.knowledgable about
    • It would be great to see makerspaces team up with teachers to offer skills/PD for them!
    • Learn so much about STEM goofing off in a makerspace than in the classes
  • NOM discussion about pulling together a db of points of contact with specific knowledge, expertise with equipment
    • Would allow jumpstarting of makerspaces, PD for educators, etc.
  • Robb wants to remind us to “honor your culture” – 8 spaces and 12 business models – your members joined because of your specific culture, so you have to fold that into how you recruit/build your space
    • @ denhac he tried to bring in things that weren’t specifically interesting to current members – people who showed up for new things didn’t necessarily integrate with existing members
    • “Choose wisely as you grow”
    • Don’t just buy new equipment because someone wants to do a thing, refer them to another space that has that equipment – it makes everyone stronger
  • Mark @DesignCaseCO – have a great in if you partner with libraries and schools, take your show on the road and into schools – they want community engagement and involvement – taking a thing on the road then offering a tour will bring in new members, seems to be effective grassroots marketing
    • Can we come in afterhours when their equipment isn’t being used? Build bridge between school and your space. Email [email protected] for intro innovation activities/curriculum ideas.
  • Really hard to refer people to other spaces if you haven’t been there – is there a way to make an easy system to easily find resources when you’re sending ppl out of your space
  • There’s currently a mess of wikis everywhere – how do we find a structure to make a great clearinghouse for knowledge and referrals
  • Katt would like more teenage leaders in the maker community – has some resources from NOM to build conference for youth 16-20, focused around addressing UN Sustainability Issues. Teens come in to work on project, get teamed up with a makerspace that can provide expertise and tools.
  • Hub is trying to organize a directory so that referrals become easier – as they get feedback there will be some tweaks, but they’re trying to build a central resource for folks to access
  • Jacob sees people wrestling with a “what am i getting out of sharing” attitude. People don’t necessarily want to teach others, they want to come in and do their project and get out.
  • Procedures & policies, roles and responsibilities help build culture, assigning a role to someone as an “expert” helps build leadership and shortcut some turnover
    • Build terming out and training new people into volunteering expectations so people don’t think they’re volunteering forever.
  • There’s a lot of trust in giving people access to expensive tools – how do you build out expertise and entry points that provide enough guidance to avoid disaster but don’t squash creativity?
  • Katt – how do spaces deal with young people? How welcoming are you? Young people deserve the same respect & responsibilities as other members (with occasional bumpers for really young people)
    • WHen do you treat a kid like a kid and when do you treat them like a fellow maker?
    • Kids want to be trusted with expensive things – and know they won’t be able to use it if things get broken
  • Insurance is a big problem for welcoming younger folks into spaces
  • Dan was teaching shop in india to high caste kids who didn’t make things with their hands – “im a designer, not a manual laborer” – but you can’t design something if you can’t make something
  • There’s been repeating talk about a passport system for spaces – can we make a common core of accepted skills/classes that would be accepted across multiple spaces? It would allow spaces to maintain their focus but then be able to meaningfully refer users to entry-level opportunities in other places
  • Jeanette: Makerspaces would have an in if they had an open door to robotics programs at local schools
    • You can’t just walk in the door at schools, often
    • There’s definitely opportunities – citizen science, UN things – if you want to try build future members, it can be a sold opp
  • Spaces can be intimidating to women – they’re not often the most welcoming places. Is there an opportunity to organize groups to do specific outreach to groups that aren’t in your space?
  • Would be great to build out unified certification process that can reach into schools and through makerspace
  • Tyler – education is really going through a change, you have to go through background checks, register, but they do soldering & all kinds of things with kids across the nation.
    • Liability is a concern, but insurance isn’t prohibitive.
    • Passport – it was really difficult to keep equipment maintained, even with power users. Maybe have people sign in to use equipment so you know who’s doing what to the equipment?
    • Training people – you have to pick the right people, not everyone has the aptitude – one of most important skills is being able to step back and acknowledge that you know when to step back and say you don’t know what you’re doing
    • Community engagement is really important to keep people coming in through the door – theme-based, community activities draws people into the space, builds comfort with working with their hands again and more likely to step into a space.

Session 2: Creating an Inclusive Maker Movement

  • REAL THINGS YOU CAN DO:
    • Consider adopting Nation of Maker’s core beliefs or view their Culture and Inclusivity Resources
    • Use Creative Reaction Lab’s Equity-centered Community Design Tool
    • Create opportunities for inclusion
    • Build in accountability with someone else
    • Keep reflecting on where you are and what you have the power to change
    • Challenge and question ignorance and exclusion
    • Be kind to people, tell them you want them around
    • Recognize areas of growth
    • Meet people who are different than you

Session 3a: Tips & Tricks

  • How spaces introduced new students or members into the space and community.
  • How training or mentoring was happening?  Was it formalized?
  • How spaces were getting experienced individuals to lead workshops or help others?
    • Shop Captains with designated shop hours and credits on memberships for their time.  They were also responsible for maintenance of the equipment in their area.
    • Setting up an environment or policies conducive to individuals contracting more experienced members to help with projects where individuals don’t necessarily want to be certified for each piece of equipment but their project may need some time on one they aren’t certified
  • Engaging spaces and their members to be mentors or guest makers in outside programs ( youth truancy, schools, Science Olympiad, etc)
    • ….
    • ….

Session 3b: Staying Relevant

  • Denhac is almost 10! But there’s worries they’re stagnating – are we more a social club than a hackerspace?
    • Trying to set up stuff to bring in more interest from the community, new faces, we’d love to outgrow the space we’re in and have a more active membership
  • Will is a member of all the spaces, he sees:
    • Burnout AND/OR
    • Mission drift
  • When Dan joined Making Progress – he saw a lot of burnout as well, people marginalized
  • If there hasn’t been a good system of nurture & support, people burn out and leave
  • It’s probably time to start doing some succession planning
  • Burnout happens even when you’re paid to do it – partially because of unrealistic workload and expectations
  • GizmoDojo has had alot of folks come in with a low skill level who expect a lot of handholding – they eat up a lot of resources, get a lot of benefits but don’t necessarily step in to fill in and volunteer, pass on that knowledge
  • Tinkermill has adopted a “apprenticeship” model – shop captains (who teach workshops/certify folks on tools) get part of the proceeds from workshops
    • Is there a way to incentivize users to give back? Without eating your entire budget…
  • Veterans often get pushed out
  • Is it in how we’re delivering knowledge? Moving from classroom to more engaged learning?
  • PPLD doing PBL called “design/build/create” which has technical/software side – students tend to have more ownership because they made a thing and customized a main idea
    • Dan seconds this idea
    • With the caveat that this costs time and money
  • Is there a way to get people to pay their dues? Can you do this without assigning work? Because that seems to turn people off.
  • Dan was part of a collective where you had to donate 10 hrs a month, or else you paid more – it wasn’t necessarily a burden, but it was part of the way the space was run
    • Tinkermill does a similar thing with their lowest paid tier of membership
  • How do you introduce ppl to the space? Are you introducing them to the culture or the tools first?
  • Are you making projects visible? Giving people a vision of what they can make?
  • Denhac is in a building with Open Media Foundation – feels like they’re not leveraging that existing relationship
  • We’re sitting on a lot of resources & skills – how do we get to a point where we can share them without struggling?
  • We started this because we were nerds who wanted to teach people – we’re not doing too good at the teaching or the marketing
  • Spaces don’t have to be everything to everyone – the cosplay folks can go to another place if they need to
    • But then people have to split memberships, travel across town
  • If only makerspaces can be run like community centers – can you just open up in an existing place?
  • Gizmo tried to open up in Broomfield – ran into lots of red tape & limitations, and had to make too many concessions for it to really work
  • Need to set up regular tours/swaps between spaces –
  • What can you offer your community? What do they want? How do you offer that without burning everyone out?
  • Getting makerspaces into schools, libraries, lots of crosspollination – need to set up regional makerspace tours
    • There needs to be someone to facilitate these, tho
  • podcast/maker hour through OMF?

Session 4: How can we collaborate better?

  • Incentivize! How do we incentivize collaboration?
  • Tour idea – doing regular tours of library/member/etc spaces so everyone gets to know each other
    • Monthly meetups at local places
    • Would these be showcases for that space or a small version of today?
    • A way to see each other more regularly, expand community
  • We need a way to know what the skill/toolset is at each space – so we can refer each better
    • There is some fear in referring folks – will i lose members? Will people think my space is lame?
    • You might just gain membership
    • Visiting each other gives the ability to gauge your own strengths – recognize what you’re good at and what you’re not
  • Maybe a rotating BBQ in different regions – invite community to collect folks together to talk, can intro new people to maker community, provide more opportunity to talk
    • Needs to happen on a regional basis – can’t just ask folks to come to front range, etc.
    • Tom volunteers to host the first one next month
  • Another option: crash each others’ open houses – you can see it at peak occupancy, how space runs
  • Make a BBQ and a competition? Back-alley robot knife fights? Some people motivated by community, some by stabbing another robot
    • Can we capitalize on existing challenges like those through Instructables?
  • Maker Faire is another venue for this kind of competition/community building
    • One-pound crappy garbage robots fighting each other in sumo competition
  • Competition has drawback of possibly pushing folks out – if they don’t complete the challenge, they won’t participate, puts pressure on spaces to produce more when they’re already trying to engage volunteers/members more
  • Hub is aiming for events in Vail, Ridgeway, Denver in Aug/Sept
  • Denhac has some access to radio/tv through OMF – is this something we could also use to build community?
    • Making some training videos to share across CO they can use with their members
    • education/information/entertainment
    • Needs a fair amount of commitment in terms of time/effort
      • DU may have some students who could fill in gaps here
  • DU is building some materials about Prusa printers and pushing it out through the Hub
  • How do we get word out about what skills people/orgs have?
  • Hub is starting weekly conference calls
    • Can use these to coordinate work on action plan coming out of items made here
  • What is a good method for all of us to keep in contact? We need a way to communicate regularly.
    • Conference calls?
    • Email?
  • Possibility of offloading new member training onto free spaces? Would require coordination between the two on what base skills are necessary, a lot of trust, and figuring out how to transfer relationships
  • Possibility of traveling road show – maintenance, repair, skills – you should probably pay a person to do this
    • Its hard to rely on volunteers to do this, due to burnout, ppl doing it for free and flaking out
  • PP – if folks get trained at PPLD, they check in with PPmakerspace & staff there check them out
  • Would outsourcing training hurt commercial spaces financially? Don’t want to create a bigger problem in solving another
    • Sounds like it’s not particularly a problem for PP, they make their money on membership
    • Some folks charge for classes, others don’t
  • How to figure out a tier system so we can refer folks to the right place

Session 5: Make a plan

 

  • Action items identified from throughout the day:

 

    • Teacher education – training K12 teachers in maker skills/pedagogy
      • DPL is piloting this next year through Maker Ed program
    • A way to track/share the experts in the area
      • Some of this is done through Hub’s directory, could be expanded
      • Survey, determine categories of skills needs, word of mouth, permission of expert to be identified as such – rules of engagement
    • A way to track/share the available equipment in the area
      • See above
      • Tech/database solution
    • Next Gen UN Sustainability Goal work w/ teens & makerspaces
      • Katt to be connected to Jeanette and Karen
    • Radio station – possibility through denhac’s presence in OMF?
      • Mat checking in with OMF about possibilities
    • Makerspace tours/meetups/cross-pollination
      • Tom is hosting the first one! Aug 25th 2pm – 4pm at Gizmo Dojo
      • RAFT & Pikes Peak Makerspace are in September
      • Would be cool to do Pueblo and Trinidad in future
      • “Maker Field Trips”
    • “Passport” – reciprocal membership program
      • IS TOO BIG HOLD ON BABY STEPS FIRST
    • Collaborating makerspaces/libraries to train up brand new users, certify them on equipment before sending on to membership folks
      • PPLD + PPM
      • Denhac + DPL
      • Future
        • The Gizmo Dojo -> Broomfield Public Library
        • Fort Collins Creator Hub -> Poudre Library System
        • Loveland Creatorspace -> Loveland Library
        • Boulder Public Library/BLDG 61 <-> Solid State Depot/Phoenix Asylum
        • TinkerMill -> Longmont Public Library/Creation Station
        • Aurora Public Library -> ??
        • Lafayette Public Library <-> Solid State Depot?
    • Standards for tool training – what are the core skills that folks need to know that are equipment-independent?
      • Ties into expert directory
      • DU is heading up creation of initial materials
        • a) Laser Cutter
        • b) CNC Desktop
        • c) 3D Printing
    • RESOURCE: DU interested in directing student resources to other space’s problems – need a way to know what those needs are to properly point people, properly defined problems
    • Hub’s first conference call is August 8, 7pm –  we can use it as a way to check in on project discussions, open to schedule others regularly. More info to follow…