[dms-discuss] Maker Faire notes from other Hackerspaces

sarah schrupp svschrupp at gmail.com
Wed May 21 12:34:55 PDT 2014

Got to chat up other Hackerspace folks.  Full disclosure, few data points;
not a tinkerer, so questions were about running/organizing a community, and
also, don't have friends in other communities like some of you might.

Take home points were derived from people who strongly believe in the
hacker community concept; many were still wildly enthusiastic, some were
still believers but no longer, wide-eyed but a few were nearing mental
collapse, yet still clinging to the positives of what a hacker community
could offer.

Surprisingly, financing according to several, was not the biggest issue.
 In fact, some mentioned that eventually, the money started streaming in,
but rather, keeping the organization healthy was the biggest hurdle.

Some advice from volunteers/organizers:

*Take the opportunity to build structure into a small organization before
it gets too large, and don't be afraid to moderate policy as needs change. * No
policies and no enforcement leads to chaos as well as creates physically
unsafe and socially toxic environment.
(Stories about people not being willing to engage law enforcement when
really necessary.  Other related issues, lack of machine/tool safety tests,
pets, squatters, drugs, theft and whether 24/7 ends up being good idea.
 Some spaces will not permit sleeping, for instance.  Another suggested
eventual space location could be out of city center but adjacent to bus
stop, for example, become a destination, not a pass through.)

*Partner with other non-profits.*  They gave many instances where
reciprocation had been invaluable, sharing funds,grants, reaching public,
getting support, trading resources et cetera.

*Consider core objective of this hackerspace; *what does this community
need?  If not much equipment to meet goals, then easier to insure and
maintain safety.  In one instance, the "big tools" are the 3-D printers
(upgraded from DMS ones, the $2K models) and some cnc mills.  (Could
concentrate on fundraising just for those specific pieces of equipment.)

*Collect but screen donations else DMC will become toxic waste site. * Be
clear about what DMC wants to accept - for example, old Apple II computers
are interesting and could be restored for a museum but are not really a
part of the DMC vision.  Some donations, like a jackhammer and compressor,
are too large or out of scope for hackerspace, but would be perfect for a
partner non-profit, i.e. habitat for humanity, who later might help
construct a wall or something.

*Focus on youth and families if possible to create a healthier financial
and social environment. * Kids and families bring money, safety, civility,
grant financing, volunteers and resources into the community.  Parents will
spend a lot of money helping their children learn but won't participate if
the environment is unsafe or otherwise toxic.  Also, many volunteer mentors
derive pleasure from working with kids and teens.

*Visit other hackerspaces and see what they are doing well and what they
wish they could change. * (I can compile a list if anyone is interested,
but there are many.)

Example of Happy, Well-run, Non-profit Hackerspace (according to other
hackers, not me):

http://www.hackerdojo.com/About (Mountain View)

Example of small, For-Profit (opened this space due to hacks in the common
area of their lodging house where they didn't want it):

http://rockitcolabs.com/makerspace (San Francisco)

Example of everything permitted, financially sound, largely disfunctional
and socially toxic, non-profit (ran across the accompanying tumblr which
seems to corroborate and enhance what I heard):

https://www.noisebridge.net/wiki/About (San Francisco)


Btw, people had made great contacts and accomplished things at Noisebridge
but many had fled elsewhere due to safety, theft and anarchy.  NB no longer
seems to have a discussion page.  (Ran across a posting about the FBI
looking into their TOR network with regards to the Mandiant report etc.)
 Lots going on there; also, lots going on there.  Maybe you have friends
that have used that space?

Be interested to hear what you have learned.  Seems like charging for space
membership filters out some behaviors.  Sponsorships could also be made for
parties who can't afford.  Otherwise, does DMS's CNC mill just become a
good place to make a copy of a DO NOT Duplicate UCDavis Schlage key?

Anyone have friends at other hacker spaces?  Be happy to contact the folks
I met and ask any of your questions.  Also, they seem to know the folks at
other communities.

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