East London’s Maker Mile – This is a cluster of makers who have a central Machines Room (Second from left) that serves as a meeting point for the makers in this area. [Drawing from World Economic Forum]

Innovative Makers in Londons Maker Mile

Following is detail regarding a few of the makers from London’s Maker Mile:

Bert and May offers a range of handmade and reclaimed tiles. Their encaustic cement tiles are ideal for using on walls, hearths, splash backs, and floors and outdoor in the garden.  All their tiles are created using natural pigments in a vast range of colors and styles to suit any aesthetic.

Machines Room – This 2000 square foot space has a full range of machines for processes such as laser & vinyl cutting, 3D printing to CNC. They host events and exhibitions (available for hire). During the day, the area functions as a co-making and co-working space. (Currently, for the Garland Area Makerspace, the North Branch of the Garland Library serves as our Machines Room.) Read more about the Machine rooms at

Music Hack Space - Music Hackspace is a platform for experimenting and interacting with sound and technology. They incorporate diverse methodologies and aim to create an open playground and exchange of ideas and sounds that embraces new and old technologies. Newly available open source platforms, both hardware and software, are granting far wider accessibility to new interactions with music and audio than have not been possible before. It’s with these technologies that we base our program of workshops, artist talks and meet-ups, and hope to encourage people of all backgrounds and skill levels to create and engage with music in previously unrealized ways.

Music Hackspace was founded by Jean-Baptiste Thiebaut in 2011, beginning as a subgroup of the London Hackspace in Hoxton with early activities consisting of weekly meet-ups where participants could present and discuss their projects to an engaged audience with a set of common interests: sound, music, creativity and technology.

Opendesk is another innovative maker community found on London's Maker Mile. Open Desk is an online furniture store that uses open-source design and manufacturing to circumvent the traditional global furniture supply chain. Opendesk allows customers to select furniture online and matches them with the closest fabrication lab where their product will be made on site. This cuts the most expensive and most polluting step of the supply chain – logistics – out of the process.

Garlands Maker Cluster has already begun

Local authorities, academic institutions and major corporations are waking up to the potential of the movement, which is shaping up to be a key player in urban transformation over the coming decades.  I hope we can soon say the same for the Garland leadership.  Garland Area Makerspace (GAM) is creating our own version of London's "Maker Mile"—We may someday be reflected upon as an interesting case study too in regard to the power that is unleashed when makers come together.  

The Garland Area Makerspace currently does not have its own large space. But beginning in July we are expanding by creating smaller maker interest groups who meet in people's homes. As mentioned, our first maker interest group, Eco Makers, will meet in my home twice a month to study and create things from recycled materials--plastics and soda cans to start.  I expect other GAM groups to form as well—music hackers, woodworkers, fabric designers, etc.

Who knows where Eco Makers will go? Perhaps we will grow to create our own version of Precious Plastics--an interesting project to emerge from Maker Mile in London. Started in 2013 by Dave Hakkens, Precious Plastic is an open-source project that reengineers plastic trash into everyday essentials like bowls and cups, as well as larger items such as tables.

Local authorities, academic institutions and major corporations are waking up to the potential of the movement, which is shaping up to be a key player in urban transformation over the coming decades. Get better educated about what makerspaces are and can be for Garland.  

GAM will continue to remain as a cohesive group that meets once a month in the North Branch Garland library while at the same time branching out to collaborate and develop our own special areas of maker interests.

Eventually, I would like to see a diagram of Makers for Garland that is similar to the diagram for London’s Maker Mile, only clustered around our downtown area where we all work together in support of the prosperity of our local economy.

In terms of clusters of makers in our community, we already have them--in our libraries, our schools and at the Gilbreath-Reed Technological Center in Garland.  We all need to figure out a way to come together and unite==despite our different locations.


It seems in the past week that both Dallas and Garland Animal Services Departments have come under fire.  From what I gather the two issues of complaints are much different.  In Dallas it seems people are concerned for the welfare of people in that viscous pit bull attacks (even involving deaths) are the main sources of those complaints while over here in Garland we have animal rights folks saying that animals are maintained under inhumane conditions at our shelter.


No Cruella de Vils among our Animal Services Personnel in Garland, Texas  

In fact, they deserve some gold stars!

I probably wouldn’t even be writing this post except for my own recent interaction with the Garland Animal Services, which was more than satisfactory for my pet and me.  Last Sunday, June 3, I was away from home from 1 to 6 PM.  When I came home my 18-year-old rat terrier, Bubbles was gone.  I have a fenced backyard and a dog door leading from backyard into my kitchen.  Someone must have opened my unlocked gate in my absence and let Bubbles out.

After running around calling her for about half an hour throughout the neighborhood, I posted to the local online neighborhood gossip chain and then I went to the online mutt shot gallery that is posted on our Garland Animal Services site. 


There she was.  A note below her photo said that it had been posted within the last hour.  That brought me so much peace of mind to know that Bubbles was safe and not been hit by a car or destroyed by a larger animal.  Otherwise I would have worried all night long about her safety.

Charlie and I were at the Garland Animal Services one minute before 10 AM when they opened on Monday.  When I was filling out the paper work, Charlie went back to the kennel area to see Bubbles.  He reported that she was drinking water and that she also had food and a clean cage.  [Note to Cynics and would be Critics:  Ok you can say that since it was 10 AM that the cages are cleaned just prior to opening the facility at 10 AM.  I’ll give you that.  The real test is to ask if the facility has SCHEDULED spot checks for water and clean cages throughout the day.]


I sent an email to the Garland Animal Services on Friday asking them if they had a schedule they followed throughout the day to ensure the animals have water and clean cages.



To prove their merit for this star, here is a message that was in my email box this morning from Mr. Hugo:

Good afternoon Elizabeth,

We do an in depth cleaning in the morning and we have officers make rounds on half hour or hour intervals, depending on availability. We do check water levels and soiled cages. There are times, like today, that there is a lot of people visiting the shelter. We do our best to make sure that someone is back checking on the pets as soon as time permits. 

Thank you,
Hugo Espinoza



Bubbles needed a rabies shot so she got one prior to being able to leave the facility.  I held her as she was given the shot and she did not even flinch, much less bark.  My dog is old and arthritic.  Sometimes she yelps when I pick her up.

Also I talked with a friend of mine who said that two years ago she had a squirrel in the fork of a tree in her backyard.  It was foaming at the mouth and bleeding from its rear end.  She called Garland Animal Services and they were at her house within the hour.  The fellow who came put on big gloves and gently removed the squirrel and put it in a cage.  He ask my friend if the squirrel had been close to her dog and told her that a vet would check for rabies on the squirrel and let her know either way.  He also assured my friend that the squirrel would be put down humanely.  Jane said that you could just tell he was the kind of person who loved animals.

Bubbles, My Friends and I all think the Garland Animal Services personnel deserve a Five Star Rating for their treatment of animals and use of resources they are given.


Bubbles and Liz give the Garland Animal Services Personnel a 5 Star Rating



Libraries and local businesses are often the backbone supporting maker efforts to build a makerspace in a community.  I was thinking about that today as I delivered flyers to the North Garland Branch Library, to our downtown Library and to several of our downtown merchants.  The Garland Area MakerSpace is particularly fortunate to have great support from our local libraries and our local business people.

My first stop was at the North Garland Branch Library.  Not only do they support the Garland Area MakerSpace by providing a space for our monthly meetings, they also allow us to post announcements of our latest public programs.  This morning I was dropping off announcements for our Lampwork glass bead class to be held Tuesday June 12  - from 7 to 8:30 PM at the North Garland Branch Library.  Our downtown library also took our flyers to distribute to their customers.

Libraries and Makerspaces in almost all communities are closely affiliated and no wonder.  Libraries often feature their own maker activities as well.  For example, this spring the North Branch Garland Library featured a rock-painting event that was hugely successful (all rocks were taken).  The children painted messages of encouragement and good cheer on rocks that were then scattered about in places throughout Garland.  Members of the Garland Area Makerspace attended this event and donated some of the paint.  Coming up soon the South Branch Garland Library is featuring an event for children to 15 year olds where they will be making tie tacks for Father’s Day.


Robert A. Smith, Commercial Real Estate Developer in Garland Texas at Rosalind’s this morning along with Lola, manager of Rosalind’s, and Cary Hodson, owner of Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery.  Both Rosalind’s and Intrinsic are located on the downtown square of Garland.  Cary really likes makers.  He helped to bring our monthly Urban Flea to Garland.  Speaking of which, the Urban Flea will be on the square this very Saturday!


On the left we have Main Street Café--a great place to eat.  They have been supporting Garland Area Makerspace by taping our announcements to their front window ever since we began. On the right is the front window of Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery displaying the announcement for our lampwork glass bead class on June 12. 

You can see information about the Garland Area Makerspace in other downtown windows as well:  Dos Banderas, and Main Street Deli to name a couple.  We also have supporters that are not located in our downtown area.  For example, Rockler Woodworking and Hardware, located at 584 W Interstate 30 in South Garland and 3D Printer Farms located at 7223 Blythdale Drive in Dallas.  We love them all.


COME TO OUR JUNE 12TH MEETING AND HELP US STRENGTHEN OUR NETWORK WHILE LEARNING HOW TO MAKE THINGS YOU NEVER HEARD OF.  IT’S FUN!  And so are the people!  Life is too short to be a hermit.  Get out and meet people, mix it up, and have some fun!  You deserve it!  Come join the makers in your community. Let’s build something great together.



Tuesday June 12


North Branch Garland Library

3845 North Garland Road

Garland, Texas 75040


In addition to our monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the Month, we are also forming special maker interest groups that will meet twice during the month.  These groups will meet in members homes to further their knowledge and skills in a particular area.

For example, Eco Makers will be meeting in my home twice a month beginning in July.  This group is for those who are particularly interested in making items from what others might label as "trash."  More information on this group will be upcoming.

Some of the Eco Maker Ideas and Crafts we may be exploring include the following.  Of course there are lots of other materials to be considered such as paper for one example.


MATERIAL:  Aluminum Cans





MATERIAL:  Plastic

5. 38 Ideas for those plastic water bottles -

6.  Precious Plastic – Create things from plastic -

This video is for the more sophisticated and serious maker.

Still it is interesting for the curious and those who may be considering delving deeper into transforming materials.   




Tuesday June 12 - 7 PM

North Branch Garland Library

3845 North Garland Avenue - Garland, Texas 

 Janell Jenkins, Garland Area Makerspace board officer and artisan will be presenting a program about an ancient bead making technology that is over 3,000 years old--lamp work glass bead making.



Artie Moskowitz holds one of the many prosthetics that he has built using a 3-D printer.

Garland Area MakerSpace members Learn about medical and industrial applications for 3D Printers

Members of the Garland Area Makerspace had a special meeting tonight with a wonderful presentation from Artie Moskowitz, President of 3D Printer Farms.

 Artie has been involved in 3D printing for the past 4 years, ever since seeing a video of a boy getting a prosthetic hand made by a 3D printer. As one of the original volunteers for e-NABLE [] Artie has printed and assembled more than 50 hands and arms for children in need around the world.  His volunteer efforts led to jobs with 3D Systems and then a national distributor of 3D printers and he currently runs his own company, 3D Printer Farms.  He brought a Z-Morph, multipurpose desktop 3-D printer with him.  This machine prints; cnc machines; and laser cuts.

Artie brought a Zmorph 3-D Printer to demonstrate tonight.  The flat blue plate in the foreground is the platform that holds the thing being built.

According to Artie, we need a national manufacturing strategy and well-defined policies to rebuild American manufacturing.  One of his goals is to equip people with the tools and resources they need to participate in rebuilding American manufacturing and creating jobs at home. 

Artie certainly was living his mission tonight as he inspired just about every member of our audience to learn more about using 3D printers to make things—especially prosthetics.  I would not be surprised to see some of our Garland Area Makerspace members joining the e-NABLE volunteer network of digital humanitarians and making 3-D printed devices as soon as this fall.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, Garland Area Makerspace members are not waiting for a space. We are moving forward with the resources at hand today.  For example, we are making our plans for two groups to start in June:  Eco Makers (a group of makers interested in creating items from recycled materials) and now we will have a 3-D Printing group.  The first step for 3-D printing is to gain mastery of the software used to create the images that are then sent to the 3-D printer. We will meet with our laptops at a member’s home and learn together.


Lots of Things were on the Garland MakerSpace Table tonight: Maker Buttons; Fund raising idea—Donate $10 or more and get a free shopping bag made by maker members from recycled materials; flyers from Rockler Woodworking in Garland on I-30 advertising Free Wood Bow Tie Make and Take Event; handouts about Eco Makers; Definitions of MakerSpaces; Garland Area Makerspace brochure; and membership signup sheets.


We will be making this summer.

We are not letting lack of a physical space hold us back.  We have the generosity of our public library for our once a month meetings where we will talk about what we have been making and learning and also have demonstrations and presentations such as Artie’s tonight. The other times we will meet in the homes of a maker member and move forward in learning together this summer about things we can make from recycled materials and how to create images to be printed in a 3-D printer. 

Who knows? Perhaps by fall some of our members will be making prosthetics like the one below that Artie brought for demonstration tonight.


One of many hands made by Artie.  No the gargoyle is not attached, although it appears to be.  When Artie figured out how to make Gargoyles on the 3D printer, he wanted to make two, three-foot tall ones for the front lawn.  His wife put her foot down on that idea.


Re-usable shopping Garland Area Makerspace sack made from a bag formerly used to hold rabbit feed.  Material for the bag was obtained free from local Garland merchant, Roach Feed and Seed. We displayed this member-made bag at the May 22 Garland MarketPlace.

We are moving on to Level Two: Membership Acquisition and Making

Our busy weekend of making and learning will continue through tomorrow, Tuesday May 22 when we meet at 7 pm at the North Garland Branch Library for a 3D printer demonstration.  Newly formed nonprofit organizations often do not have a permanent place to meet during their first year and sometimes even their second year.  Much of the energies of the organization are centered on acquiring new members.

This creates all kinds of challenges.  For example, how can we attract members who like to make things to join our makerspace when we don’t have a space in which to make things and thus are limited in our abilities to offer opportunities to make?  Garland Area Makerspace currently meets at the North Branch Garland Library.  Makers are not too patient with long boring meetings.  We know that because we too are makers.

The good news is that we are through the boring part with all those grueling meetings which take up about 9 months at the very beginning of any nonprofit organization when he group flounders around and somehow manages:  to apply for a Certificate of Filing as a nonprofit domestic corporation in the state of Texas; hammering out bylaws; writes a Conflict of Interest policy; completed the horrific IRS 1023 form and files the request to be a tax exempt organization.  We just submitted our application to operate as a 501 C3 nonprofit organization on May 18.  Often if a group survives this time period, the rest is downhill and easy and fun by comparison.


 Creating a Real Makerspace without the Space

Now we have time to think creatively, collaborate, and share ideas that will answer questions such as:  How can we expand our space now?

The answer may be to divide and conquer.  To that end, I am proposing that members who are interested in particular types of making (as defined by the materials they like to make with such as clay, fabric, metal, wood, etc.) create their own monthly maker events in their homes for up to as many as 20 people.

Eco Makers Coming in June and Perhaps Arduino Projects in July!

For the month of June, I will be a guinea pig. My group is to be called “ECO Makers.”  One of the missions of this sub-group of Garland Area Makerspace members is to create useful items from recycled materials that would be suitable for sale.  In the coming week I’ll schedule two meetings at my home for the month of June.  Signup with be RSVP open to the first 20 people. 

Our first meeting will be to brainstorm materials to use and items to make.  [Tools for making these items will be limited to: sewing machines; scissors, staples, household irons, needles, etc.—no table saws.]

Perhaps the group will choose two items and related materials and tools.  During the second meeting of the month we will make the items.  Ideally both of these meetings will transpire prior to the monthly meeting of the Garland Area MakerSpace.  Thus, we can report to the larger group and bring the items we made.  These items can be sold at the monthly Garland Area Makerspace booth as a fundraising activity.


In addition to using the space of our members’ homes, we hope to use commercial space provided by local merchants such as Rockler Woodworking of Garland, Texas.



Our Regular Monthly Meetings Will Be Fun and Educational too!

Going forward, the business part of our monthly meetings will be no longer than ten minutes.  Then we will have brief presentations from the various Garland Area Makerspace groups followed by the main part of our meeting, which will be a planned program.  Although some may involve making, most of these programs at our regular monthly meetings will be demonstrations of various types of maker tools and equipment.  For example, tomorrow night we will have Artie Moscowitz from 3D Printer Farms.  Artie will be demonstrating a Zmorph—a 3D printer, CNC machining tool and a laser cutter—all rolled up into one tool.


Our meetings are free and open to the public.

Tuesday May 22 – 7 PM – North Branch Garland Library – 3845 N. Garland Avenue – Garland, TX 75040

[Note:  the library is located in a strip mall across the street from a soccer field.]


Yesterday was a special day for several reasons:  First of all it was MarketPlace Day at the downtown historic square of Garland Texas.  Second of all it was the first time that members of the Garland Area MakerSpace participated in this great event.  We will do so again as it is a great opportunity to let the local community know that we are here—not always an easy task to accomplish for new nonprofit start ups and small business entrepreneurs.

Charlie Bevilacqua, Garland Area Makerspace member listens to President Carol Currie tell a visitor about the Garland Area Makerspace

Garland Area Makerspace was there!

We support makers of shapes, sizes and ages.  We hope to soon have a location here in Garland where makers can come to share ideas and make things together.  Our next meeting is Tuesday May 22 at 7PM at the North Garland Branch Library where we will have a demonstration of a 3D printer that also can perform CNC machining and laser cutting.

The Garland MarketPlace is a lot like an ever-changing river that one never steps into twice. While keeping elements of sameness, it continues to flow and wind into new tributaries.  Thus the Marketplace is always interesting and never fails to entertain me with new revelations as I walk and talk with the vendors—some of who are now old friends that I’ve known for several years and others are brand new friends that I just met..  Following are a few of my revelations about the Garland MarketPlace and our small business/cottage industrialists of today.


More Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Now At the Garland MarketPlace 

Esperanza Farms has long been a mainstay on the  corner of Fourth and State, but now Dwayne Beasley is holding down the fort on the other end on Main Street near the Green.  Dwayne’s large booth was beside the Garland Area Makerspace booth yesterday.  He had the best looking and largest strawberries and blueberries I’ve ever seen.  Dwayne grows some of his vegetables such as the onions and squash and get the rest from all over the USA.


Small business operations are often family affairs that cross as many as three generations

In addition to spanning generations, small family businesses these days aren’t always what we might think of as “typical.”  For example, the owners of Drippin' Rhinestones, who make lovely custom and handmade home décor, include Jimmy Clark his two stepdaughters and his wife.  Granny’s Gourmet, is a creative and yummy baked goods company owned by Suzanne Matthews and her granddaughter whom she is raising.

Drippin’ Rhinestones and Granny’s Gourmet: Two Generations of Owners


Jimmy Clark and his stepdaughter from Dripping Rhinestones –  Susanne Matthews and her granddaughter from Granny’s Gourmet (214) 809-9984

Pinson & Cole's Gourmet Pickles Spans Three Generations

Stephanie Cole founded this company about four years ago and  has been joined by her daughter and grandsons.  They all continue to help to grow the company into the success it s becoming.  Already they have their great pickles in several delicatessens in the Garland area.

At Pinson and Cole’s a pickle is not just a pickle any more.  Visit their website at  [Stephanie is featured on the right.  Her daughter on the left is busy chatting with a customer.  Visit their website to see the enormous variety of pickles they offer.  In fact, unlike many people, they share their recipes. Thus if you are interested in learning more about pickles, visit their site.


"Mom and Pop Shop":  Charis Honey Farms 

Small businesses are sometimes referred to as “mom and pop shops” because they are often owned and run by a husband and wife.  Such is the case of Charis Honey Farms—a locally owned honey farm.  Visit them at the Garland MarketPlace and also online at  Charis Honey Farms is located in Rowlett, TX, which is a suburb east of Dallas, between Garland and Rockwall, and is operated by Bob and Sally Michel. They don’t have a farm. In fact all they have is a tiny back yard.  However, they have friends who have farms, or acreage who graciously allow them to put hives on those properties.  Bob was unemployed in 2011 and looked into beekeeping.  The rest is history.

I still have some honey named “Rowlett” that I bought from them last year.  Yesterday I mentioned to Bob how much I liked the honey and Bob explained to me that honey taste and availability varies from year to year—depending primarily on the weather.  He said one year it barely rained and he thought the honey would be scarce and not good.  However quite the opposite was true.  The honey was plentiful and great.  Another year it rained a lot and things grew well.  Bob thought honey would be great and plentiful that year.  It was not.  One of the factors here is that European honeybees don’t like to forage in rainy or windy weather.

Sally and Bob Michel, owners of Charis Honey Farms-- Their's too is a family business involving their children.


Come to MarketPlace and see unusual businesses.

Jeff Richter from BEARD COMMANDER.COM sells balms, oils, shampoos, conditioners and provides grooming tips for keeping your beard beautiful.  214-440-6953  Their store is located in Waxahachie.


Some Small Business people are Consultants

Paparazzi is a MLM company out of Utah.  They sell startup kits of Jewelry for $99 to people they call their “Consultants.”  These kits have 35 pieces of jewelry and a retail value of $175.  They are sold at $5 a piece.  All the jewelry is sold at $5 each.  The consultants can brand their own business as has Jenni Lee of Jenni Lee Jewelry shown in the photo below.  Good deals for inexpensive costume jewelry.  Camp Gladiator is another example of how individuals can tie in with a nationwide company and earn money.  Erin Lewis, a representative from Camp Gladiator was at MarketPlace yesterday.  Camp Gladiator has over 2,000 fitness camps all over the USA.  Find out how you can get in shape by contacting Erin Lewis.   

Jenni Lee (on left) of Jenni Lee Jewelry at the Garland MarketPlace – Visit online at  Erin Lewis would love to talk with you about getting fit at a gladiator camp.  Don’t worry ladies, their camps feature two women to one guy. Call Erin at (469)544-7991 or send him an email at


Artists often start their own company to survive

The challenge for most small businesses is that they do not mass-produce their goods, yet they must compete with a huge market of mass-produced goods.  It’s a catch-22 situation:  it takes more hours to produce an item by hand and thus it becomes more costly.  If they sell by consignment at a gallery or store, then there are those fees added to it.  Thus many artists and makers sell their wares at online shops like Etsy, Farmer’s Markets and online at their own websites.  The Garland MarketPlace had several artists yesterday displaying and selling their work:  Sandy Anderson, a Garland watercolor artist (; Damien T. McDaniel, freelance artist who did a caricature of me yesterday (501-837-1143); Shanna Steele,  award-winning Jewelry Designer (; Jeff Beatty of Jebediah’s Pottery right here in Garland, Texas (

Sandy Anderson, watercolor artist, poses with her work and Shanna Steele, award-winning beadwork designer stands behind her exquisite creations.


Many owners of small businesses have more than one job

You may not be old enough to remember, but once upon a time people only had one job, forty hours a week and that was enough.  This is no longer true for most Americans.  It is now more common for people to have two or even three jobs just to make ends meet.  Sometimes, their second job is one they create themselves.  You can find these people at places like the Garland MarketPlace.  Sometimes I’m shocked to learn that s particular persons more than one job.  For example, Kirk Lovett schedules Marketplace events throughout the DFW area through the Marketplace DFW ( but It didn’t know until yesterday that Kirk also sells insurance at Kuykendall Insurance (Auto, Home, Business, RV).  Call him at 972-978-7759 to see what he can do for you.

Michel Funke, founder of family run business, Bubba Funke Jelly ( is also a full time teacher.  Kirk Lovett,



E-MAIL: Kirk.Eventive@Live.Com
PHONE: Tel: 469-275-9616

Get inspired!  Visit the Garland MarketPlace the first and third Saturday of the month and see entrepreneurs of all ages, shapes, colors, religions, and ethnic backgrounds taking action to make their dreams come true.   Learn first-hand from the people who are doing it.



Alli Clements, sign-maker extraordinaire, one of the many vendors at the April Garland MarketPlace, makes signs that allow folks to create their own messages.

Downtown Garland Square

Saturday May 19 from 9AM – 2 PM

There are lots of reasons for attending the Garland MarketPlace—Music, makers, crafters, artists, farmers, fresh produce, one-of-a-kind items,  locally baked goods, fresh air, and chatting with friends and neighbors.


And here is one more good reason to get out of your recliner and come on down to the Garland Square 

The Garland Area Makerspace will have a booth there!

We are excited to meet you and hear about what kinds of things that you like to make.  We will have information available to also tell you about our vision for a Garland Area Makerspace.  Learn how you can become part of these plans.  We hope to see you there.




We hope you'll come meet us and learn all about the Garland Area MakerSpace (a nonprofit, community first organization), and also how to make pens.  (I did make the pen featured in the photo.) We are excited for this opportunity to tell people about we are hoping to bring to our community while we all make something.  I hope you RSVP.  The first 30 who do will be able to make a pen to take home with them.  The rest can chat with Garland Area Makerspace members while watching this interesting process. - Liz Berry



If we look to nature we can find solutions and answers for designing the things we make.  In the natural world things are designed so that when their life is spent, the materials from which they were made can be used as materials to make other things. A leaf dies, and its decayed organic matter becomes food for a tree.  An animal is killed and its matter becomes food for another animal.  In nature, nothing is wasted.

We need to apply these same principles to the things we make.  We need to stop and plan for the future of the item we are making:  “When the usefulness of this thing I’m building has served its purpose and/or worn out, what can it become”?  And the correct answer is not “junk to be thrown away in a landfill or ocean.”  As part of the design of that product, there should be a stated purpose for its next life.

The two most polluting containers we are using today are plastic bags and aluminum cans. Stopping the motion of destructive forces already in motion is not always easy.  There is the ingrained notion of “this is the way it is done.”  And of course, there are many who are financially invested in the way things are done now.  Usually improvements and new ways of doing things are brought about in interim steps on the path to new and better replacement. And this takes time.


Steps to replacing the old way with a new and better way:

Step One:  Fully realize and understand how damaging to the people and the planet the old way of doing things is. 

This is an important step as it provides motivation for going to the extra mile to remake/reuse these objects.  This information can also be used to overcome objections to those who don’t want to change. Let’s use the example of the aluminum cans and plastic bags.  

Aluminum Cans

The people of the world go through 180 billion aluminum beverage cans a year; enough to build dozens of towers to the moon. More than one million tons of aluminum containers and packaging (soda cans, TV dinner trays, aluminum foil) are thrown away each year. Americans throw away enough aluminum every three months to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet. Last year, approximately 36 billion aluminum cans were landfilled. [From “The Secret Life of the Aluminum Can” – WIRED magazine]

About 7% of the earth’s crust is aluminum, making it the third most abundant element after oxygen and silicon.  Aluminum production starts with the raw material bauxite.   Bauxite is a mineral containing 15-25 percent aluminum found mostly around the Equator.  Bauxite is located close to the surface.  Thus mining destroys ecosystems on the surface, results in land erosion.  The tropical forest areas are most threatened by this mining. [Source: Accessed 05/6/2018]

If not recycled, aluminum cans will stay in a landfill up to 500 years before it oxidizes. However, recycling aluminum is not a “cure-all” either. Recycling aluminum requires only five percent of the energy required to manufacture new aluminum from bauxite. However, recycling aluminum produces many toxic chemicals that are released into the air. Furthermore, recycling aluminum produces a waste product called "dross" that is highly toxic and has to be buried in landfills. This dross must be tightly sealed in containers so that it doesn’t leak out and enter groundwater.

Plastic Bags

Our planet is becoming increasingly contaminated by our unnecessary use of plastic bags.  It is estimated the average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year.  According to Waste Management, only 1 percent of plastic bags are returned for recycling.  The rest end up in landfills as litter.  Up to 80 percent of ocean plastic pollution enter the ocean from land.  Like aluminum cans, it takes plastic bags about 500 years to breakdown.  However, plastic bags become micro-plastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment.

Recycling is not a solution to the plastic bag problem. It simply keeps them out of landfills and the environment for a little longer.  Bags should not be returned to the grocery store for recycling until we’ve gotten as much use out of them as possible.  We need to reduce the number of new bags we use, reuse them as much as possible, and bring them back for recycling when we can no longer use them.  


Step Two:  Figure out interim use(s) for the material that can keep the bags or cans out of landfills for as long as possible.

For Plastic Grocery Store Bags

The best solution for reusing items is to use them for the same purpose for which they were originally designed, using little or no labor or tools.  Thus for the grocery store plastic sacks, the best way to reuse them would be to put one inside another so the sacks have two thicknesses and take them back to the grocery store the next time you go.  This extends their lifetime of usefulness for several trips instead of just one.  It prevents more waste resulting from using more plastic bags.

When the sacks can no longer be used with minimum adjustments, design a way to use the plastic material into even more durable sacks.  This is where the creativity of makers comes into play.  For example, you could cut strips of plastic from the sacks, melt them together with an iron and knit into a plastic bag.  This sturdy bag would last for years.

For Aluminum Cans

At least at the moment, I don’t have an idea of how these cans might be reused for containing soft drinks.  My only suggestion to date is to deconstruct them and use the aluminum to create decorative objects that people would want to keep as art objects for their homes and gardens.  Aluminum cans can easily be cut and deconstructed with an ordinary pair of craft scissors.  From there, it is up to the maker’s imagination what can be done with this material.


Step Three:  Design better containers using materials that have the potential to live another life.

This of course takes longer than steps one or two, but it is in thinking and doing that better solutions emerge.  And when we think and make with others, the magic of collaboration often bubbles to the surface, bringing with it unexpected solutions.

And these are just a few of the reasons why I’m hoping that we will be able to establish a place for the Garland Area Makerspace in my community.



Join the Garland Area Makerspace!

We meet at the North Garland Branch Library - Second and Fourth Tuesday of the Month at   7PM

North Branch Garland Library - 3845 North Garland Avenue - Garland Texas 75040