Moving the conversation from "What is a makerspace?" to what "a space for creating and making" COULD BE is only the first step towards expanding the dialogue around makerspaces.
If you really want to expand the possibilities of what your makerspace could be, start asking some WHO questions. The WHO questions are not always obvious, but they are important ones.
When I first came across these questions on Twitter, I was immediately drawn to them. I've tried to locate the original post without any success, but I have not stopped thinking and talking about this since.
Probably my earliest memory of feeling really out of place was the first time I walked into kindergarten only knowing six words of English. I knew how to say YES, NO, PLEASE, THANK YOU, SALT and PEPPER. I think my French speaking parents wanted me to be polite and have seasoned food. It must not have been too traumatic, because for the most part I don't even remember learning how to speak English.
As a white female educator, I've always felt very at home in my school -- well except for having to work extra hard at pronouncing the "TH" whenever I talked about my school - NorTH Country Union High School.
But that "at home' feeling was not what I felt when I first became a member of our community maker space. Yes, I showed up! And if it had not been for the female director, Kristi, who welcomed me, I might have easily walked out. Because for the first few visits, I didn't really see anyone else who looked like me except for Kristi.
Eventually I noticed a few other female makers, and it didn't take long for me to want to invite other women to come make with me! And so I empowered myself and started to organize an event that would bring over two dozen women and girls to our makerspace!
Our makerspace, the Generator offered the space and the pizza; and Vermont Works for Women bought the supplies and myself, Jill Dawson, and Leah Joly planned and lead a series of workshop teaching a half dozen teachers and their students to code using paper circuits and e-textiles.
That was 4 years ago! And since then my network of female maker friends continues to grow. Together we feel empowered to keep on making, learning from each other, and continue to empower other women and girls to create, make, and learn with us.
And to my delight, I arrived in Austin on the very weekend, that a new makerspace was opening its door with a goal of empowering makers of all backgrounds.
Our goal at CO.LAB COMMUNITY MAKERS is to empower creators of all backgrounds regardless of financial situation, ethnicity, or orientation by providing a safe space that facilitates powerful ideas and access to tools. We aim to support our community makers in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Co.Lab was a welcoming place to visit today and I can't wait to share my first visit to Co.Lab as part of this series.
They are totally asking the WHO questions.
It is easy to see WHO is invited in their space from their website.
It's easy to see WHO feels welcomes when you walk through the door.
And if WHO showed up today is any indication, I'd say they are definitely going to be a makerspace that you are going to want to keep an eye out as a model.
And within minutes of engaging with founding members, Cynthia, Liz, Patrick, and Damon, I learned that they Walk the Walk when it comes to WHO is empowered. I can't wait to follow them and write more about them, but first things first - Let's help them kick things off to a fantastic start by helping them make their Kickstarter goal!
and if you can - drop in to see them
I guarantee you'll feel welcomed
and you just might find your tribe there!
Stay tuned for more....