Juneau, Alaska, has a hackspace with the rather formal name of "the STEM satellite space of the Juneau Economic Development Council." Despite the funny name, it sounds like a top-notch hackspace, and it has just expanded its remit to cover adult use as well as kids' programs. Melissa Griffiths of the Juneau Empire has a charming profile of the space and its proprietor, Bob Vieth.
“It’s to teach the lost art of tinkering. When I was a kid, I tinkered. My father tinkered. My father was not an educated man, he was a farmer from Missouri” Bob said, pronouncing it like a true Missouran would, “But I remember when I was a kid, my dad’s hobby was to collect old TV sets that people would throw in the garbage, and taking these TV sets and building new ones that worked. He had no education, he just learned how to do it. By reading, seeing how things worked.”
The Saturday Thing allows kids to tinker with the help and supervision of Bob and other volunteers on Saturday mornings through whenever, Bob said. It starts at 9:30 and parents should pre-register their kids. Now, adults can get in on the fun too. Bob is starting a Saturday Thing (after dark) every third Thursday, starting this week. Yep, that’s The Saturday Thing (after dark) on Thursdays.
“(The Saturday Thing for kids) has been going on here in Juneau for a bit more than a year. But it didn’t originate here in Juneau. It started actually about 15 years ago by a good friend of mine at MIT in Cambridge, who runs a laboratory at the Edgerton Center, and he started opening up his door on Saturday mornings to whoever wanted to come in and tinker. It became very popular.” Bob said. “As it turns out, his college roommate when he went to MIT is a professor up at UAF in Fairbanks, who just retired actually a week ago, he started a Thing in Fairbanks about two years ago. I heard about it… and we had some extra space here in the office, so I figured ‘why not do it here?’”
Get your geek on (Thanks, Melissa!)
(Image: Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
Nick sez, "I designed and laser cut a new women's room sign for my hackerspace (CCCKC/Hammerspace). The files are up on thinigiverse if anyone wants to make their own. It took a long time to figure out something that wasn't a dress to signify that a stick figure is a women. Down pigtails seem to do the job nicely and I noticed that Jackhammer Jill has them as well."
Makerspaces are pretty gnarly, filled with unwieldy equipment, fragile projects-in-progress, glorious fire hazards, and delicate instruments. Moving a makerspace sounds like a nightmare. MAKE's guide to moving a makerspace, penned by the Jigsaw Renaissance members after their last move, is a great place to start when your hackspace loses its lease or outgrows its boundaries.
Purge. No really. This is the best time to throw everything out. Yes, we know it might be useful at some point. Some tips: if it’s not slated for a specific project, toss it. Is the object of high value? Calculate your cost/sqft of space, including utilities. Is it worth the space it takes up?
Layout. Have an idea of where things go – this will help you with your purging process.
Insurance. Just like your landlord, find an insurance agent who “gets it” or at least gives you a confused smile. Talk to them about why you do what you do. Use terms like “community workshop” and “clubhouse for geeks.” Words like “hacker,” “fire,” “high voltage” might set them running. And yes, you do need insurance.
David from Nottinghack -- the hackspace in Nottingham, England -- writes, "It's been six months since we moved into a 4500 square foot hackspace, in large part thanks to Boing Boing featuring our cause in May. We'd like to extend our heartfelt thanks to you, and to all of the people who generously donated to keep the hackspace going. For those who requested it, we've painted your names on our wall, and made a time lapse video of the final coat going up. There's also now a hackspace manual showing a lot of the projects done and facilities now available at the space. Membership has been growing steadily ever since we moved in, and as a result, among many things we've been able to put in place laser cutters, CNC machines, a metal lathe, PCB etching equipment and bicycle repair facilities. All things we had no room for at the old space!"
Here's a piece of hackerspace lore from earlier this summer. Rinpoche Fa Zang, a Buddhist monk, believed (incorrectly) that the rule of the San Francisco Noisebridge hackerspace was that "if the space was not being used, it could be used for anything." So he and his disciples rearranged the hackerspace into a shrine and began conducting services in it.
What followed was a gentle but insistent tug of war between a group of anti-authoritarian hackers and a monk, as documented by Danny O'Brien, one of the funniest people I know.
A few hours later, Fa Zang left me a voicemail. I have the MP3 if anyone wants it. It is awesome, and here is the transcript:
This is Fa Zang (Rinpoche). You seem to have forgotten that this country was found... to things written in the Constitution. Our founding forefathers promised us we would have freedom of speech, and freedom of religion. You remember the things that Thomas Jefferson said, about tyranny and religion? If you don't you should look it up. What you people are doing is completely erroneous, I haven't held any ceremonies there, I've simply been paying homage to the teachings I listen to there. And so you are breaking your own by-laws and the constitutional rights of people who come there by doing what you're doing. I think you should reconsider what you're doing."
So there you go. As someone who is also a fan of the founding fathers and ...things written in the Constitution, I'm sensitive to issues regarding religion, so I've been actively seeking out someone who is okay with the meditating, and the incense, and the shrining, and the constantly bloody moving of the tables and chairs. Let me know if you want to represent the Rinpoche's position in this disagreement.
In the mean time, if you agree with what is smelling to me like consensus, and if you see the Rinpoche in the road, or even in the space, can you ask him to keep the ceremonial stuff to Macang Monastery, where he lives.