Thursday, March 7, 2019

Day 7 - Launch with Equity In Mind

As Craig and I travel around the country, we have the opportunity to see so many different types of makerspaces. Each has its own culture. Each has its own origin story. Each has its own sets of tools and supplies. Each has its own vision. Each has its own unique member makeup. Each has its own way to keep the lights on. Each has its own set of rules.

This week was the first time we had the privilege of seeing a makerspace launch with EQUITY in mind from the get-go.  They have clearly not only thought about WHAT their space will look like and HOW members will MAKE in their space, but they have  defined their WHY and made WHO they serve a priority. 

If you are looking to create an inclusive makerspace, Co.Lab's  makerspace mission  is definitely one that can serve as a model. 


Our goal is to support makers of all backgrounds as they develop into self-reliant creators and active participants in the Maker Movement. We promise to be allies who break down historical and economic barriers so that innovators of color and other underrepresented groups are more recognized as an essential part of Austin’s creative community.

We Are All Makers:

Your support will help fund a radical approach to community makerspaces: a free, donation-based creative studio, fabrication lab, and coworking space. Our mission is to be an ally for underserved and underrepresented makers - to empower the people.

Donations will help us provide access to a safe and inclusive environment for making, with digital fabrication tools, materials, training, and flexible workspaces. We believe that everyone, regardless of financial situation, ethnicity, or orientation should have access to the powerful ideas and tools of the Maker Movement. We aim to support our community makers in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

If you think now is the time to counteract historical, systemic practices that have created racial and economic exclusivity, then please help us realize the potential of all Makers, and donate today!

After meeting, Co.lab’s founders, Cynthia, Patrick, Liz, and Da’Mon at the opening and reading their mission statement on their Kickstarter, I made my pledge and hope that everyone spreads the word, cheers them on, and helps them pay the rent that will keep them open for their first 12 months! 

 This will help them focus on the community they have set out to serve. Not only will your donation serve the Austin community, it will also help all of us from around the country who aspire to make our makerspaces serve the needs of a more inclusive community. By sharing what works for many different types of makers, from so many different backgrounds, with so many different needs, the mission can be amplified and the impact can ripple across the country. 

So please consider making a pledge to help Co.Lab meet its kickstarter goal.

When we first arrived at Co.Lab’s Open house we were greeted by a maker in action! Later we would learn that the sword maker who nodded to us on the way in was Da’Mon Stith - one of the founding members of Co.Lab and that he was passionate about training and educating others in the warrior traditions of Ancient and Medieval African arts and fabricating historical and fantasy weapons.

Upon entering we were greeted with a welcoming reminder that this placed cared about safety!

Colorful making was in full swing

It wasn’t long before I  learned the history behind Co.Lab from founders Cynthia Ayala and Elizabeth Mikesak. I was not surprised that both of them were educators who had lots of experience working with populations that are often marginalized. They talked about the importance of having diverse voices, as board members as well as members of the maker community they were building. 

As we talked, I watched what appeared to be the donation of a Makerbot 3D printer being welcomed by co-founder Patrick Benfield.

It was obvious that a community had formed to bring together some great tools to launch this makerspace.

Patrick, Craig, and I exchanged stories and impressions about our respective Glowforge laser cutters and talked about where it fits into the eco-system of makerspace tools.

I’m always fascinated by what each makerspace community collects as materials that help their members create and make.

I even said Hello to some of my favorite coding robots

I hope you will join me in wishing Co.Lab the best of luck in launching their makerspace as a SAFE and FREE space that empowers ALL to CREATE and MAKE.

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