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Why and How City Leaderships Support Makerspaces

Makerspaces are not what a lot of folks mistakenly think they are. 

Most folks really don’t understand MakerSpaces as the unique educational tool that they are.  Some smugly dismiss them as places that simply indulge hobbyists while others think of MakerSpaces as being synonymous with large industrial manufacturing facilities that churn out noise and pollution.  Both viewpoints are misconceptions.  Among other things, Makerspace are not large mass production sites of any product.  In terms of noise, drive by the Dallas Makerspace and let me know what you hear.

Makerspaces are the new model, in fact, the future for effective learning environments. They have more in common with community centers than industrial factories.  These places are human-centered designs that facilitate and encourage collaborative learning and shared knowledge.  These are places that put expensive tools in the hands of creators and thinkers who would not otherwise have access to these tools. But perhaps even more important than the tools, Makerspaces put people with similar interests in touch with each other and provide an environment conducive to sharing ideas and thus spawning creations that otherwise would never have sprung forth.

Ever since the Luddites, people have been talking about technology wiping out jobs and it’s true, looking back through the lens of a historical perspective, indeed technology has wiped out jobs.  Now today we have the specter of robotics on the scene bringing with it the fear of more jobs lost.

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With the Support of City Leadership, a Different Future can be embraced and shepherded forward.

The solution is not to put a brick on technology’s head to stop its growth.  The solution is to develop a means for creating a space for people to come together and use new and old technology to build things and ideas together.  Makerspaces offer this opportunity

I agree with Brooks Rainwater, Director of the City Solutions and Applied Research Center at the National League of Cities:  We need to circle back and focus on what has always been unique about humans: creativity. It is high time to see ingenuity, craftsmanship, and connectivity as the critical differentiators, and move toward a future where we embrace and usher forward human-centered work [Source:  https://www.fastcompany.com/3053598/can-human-centered-design-help-humans-prevail-over-machines-in-the-workplace -accessed 9/28/2017]

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Makerspaces Are Springing Up All Over the World

The estimated worldwide count of Makerspaces today is 2,000.  Most of these are located in cities with progressive leadership that supports new ways of moving into the 21st century and, while they have similar qualities each makerspace is a little different. 

For example, I am currently working on a team that is exploring the possibility of bringing a Makerspace to Garland.  We all come from different walks of life and most of us did not know anyone in the group prior to its formation.  We responded to an ad in a local paper inviting any resident of Garland interested in a Makerspace to meet.  I have wanted a Makerspace in Garland ever since July of 2015 when I learned about them and visited the Dallas Makerspace.  I’ve been writing to my city leaders about it since then as well writing posts on the topic in this blog. My enthusiasm for Makerspaces is not new nor has it dampened over the past two years.

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Makerspaces Have Unique Personalities

In the planning of what our makerspace might look like we each bring our own unique experiences to the table, as I’m sure is true in regard to the formation of makerspaces all over the world.

For my own contribution, as you might surmise, one of my intentions is to make our Garland makerspace the greenest makerspace in the world—one that follows principles of permaculture and ISO.  I believe that cities must lead in the green example and as part of that green leadership cities should encourage residents to grow at least some of the food they eat.

Cities are critical places that will continue to grow in power.  We are beginning to see the rise of the city-state.   For example in the USA cities like New York City and Los Angeles have practically become countries unto themselves.

According to a United Nations Report:  Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050. Projections show that urbanization combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050.  [Source: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/world-urbanization-prospects-2014.html - Accessed 9/28/2017]   Thus the direction of city leadership today is critical to the future of our nation if not the survival of humanity. 

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The following is an excerpt from a post I wrote in 2015 after visiting the Dallas Makerspace.  This is one example of the green thinking I would bring to the Garland makerspace.  It is also an example of just how stimulating the creative environment of a makerspace can be.  We need one in Garland and not in a couple of years, but within a couple of months. Makerspaces support and grow local economies.

 

Sawdust, Inc. – a creative inspiration for a company came from just an hour of hanging around Dallas Makerspace

The woodworking shop is one of the most popular areas of the Makerspace.  Stan mentioned that it produces lots of sawdust every week.  I asked him what they did with the sawdust.  He said they take it out to the dumpster.  Now that’s a missed opportunity.  In fact, I think that just about anything taken to the dumpster represents a missed opportunity that we should rethink.   Sawdust can be used for all sorts of things—among them is compost, but it should not be used as a mulch.  When sawdust is breaking down, it uses a lot of nitrogen in the process so if you use it as mulch, it will rob your plants of nitrogen.  However you can put it in compost piles that you plan to compost for at least 18 months before bringing it into the garden.  It would be a great addition for the ingredients of a hugelkultur.

But there are many other creative uses for sawdust.  For example, instead of salt, which alters the pH of the soil and groundwater, use sawdust for icy sidewalks and roads.  HEY!  Perhaps this is a potential Kickstarter project.  What do you think?

Let’s all start moving toward creating a better world by rethinking what we do with our stuff we call junk and waste.  If I were queen, garbage disposals would be against the law. [from a post I wrote in July 2015]

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 How are many Cities supporting the Maker Movement now?

“ . . . A number of cities are pursuing efforts to link the maker movement directly to local manufacturing growth. For example, local governments donate unused public buildings for new workspaces and offer low-interest loans or rent-ceiling guarantees for maker startups.”

From: HOW CITIES CAN GROW THE MAKER MOVEMENT National League of Cities | Center for City Solutions and Applied Research http://www.nlc.org/sites/default/files/201612/Maker%20Movement%20Report%20final.pdf

 

Thursday, September 28, 2017