Evicted: Berkeley's Shipyard maker community

The Shipyard is a unique collective for artists and makers in Berkeley, California where the residents build out shops inside shipping containers. Over the years, the city of Berkeley has given the Shipyard lots of problems, even denying them access to the electrical grid. In true maker fashion, that limitation prompted Shipyard founder Jim Mason and his pals to design an innovative solar power system so they could produce their own energy. Apparently, the city of Berkeley has now given the Shipyard three days to "vacate and abate" or face fines of $2500/day. According to Mason, the core issue that Berkeley doesn't consider the containers to be "structurally sound buildings." The Shipyard makers will have a big presence at Maker Faire next weekend, a good opportunity for you to check out the work of this amazing group of creative and talented people that Berkeley is booting out. How sad. Here's hoping they find a great new spot quickly! Dale Dougherty, MAKE:'s founder, has more details at the O'Reilly Radar blog. (Shipyard photo from tobo's Flickr stream.)

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From a message Jim sent to the Shipyard list:

We therefore have decided to end our art and alternative energy endeavers here in the City of Berkeley and move to a new location.

We come to this conclusion with tremendous sadness and loss, as the open collaborative space we have built here has become a deeply vibrant art/tech skunkworks, continually churning out heroic creativity in the arts as well as very needed innovation in DIY, open source, alternative energy endeavors. We have undertaken these activities as a community collaboration, and used our creative and innovative work as an civic engine for generating meaningful community for many. The results have been tremendous, vastly exceeding any expectations we had when we started this 6 years ago.


UPDATE: Much more information including Jim Mason's letter to the City of Berkeley and plan of action is now available at The Shipyard's Web site. Link (Thanks, babaLou!)