. I'm taking the opportunity of this unplanned time off to connect with the many artists and creators in this wonderful city that I love. Come with me on my 100-day odyssey of art and creativity in Long Beach. I call it .
I've been talking a lot about , and . Dale Dougherty, founder and general manager of Maker Media (which publishes Make Magazine), was in town and wanted to talk about Makerspaces in schools. I had to go.
August 14th was Day 44. I attended the Public meeting at Crash Space in Culver City.
To those of you who are thinking "Culver City? That's a bit far from Long Beach, Trish!" I quote Alexander Graham Bell - "Leave the beaten track behind occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do, you will be certain to find something you have never seen before".
Crash Space is a Makerspace in Culver City. I didn't know what to expect. Glitzy sign in neon blinking Crash Space... Crash Space..? Cute little house with a living room setup and big TV with game players of various sorts? And, of course, electronics tools in the back rooms? Giant warehouse space with expensive equipment running 24x7? Mini-mall storefront? (I hoped not this!)
I drove by the space without even noticing it. The building is more house than anything else. The sign is tiny, almost as if it didn't want to be seen. It makes sense. If you want to find a Makerspace, you will look for it. No need to have a glitzy neon sign. No budget to have a fancy neon sign... unless there was someone who cared to make it! I parked and walked up to the proper address. There it was... Crash Space... on a tiny page pasted onto the glass window. Small enough to miss, but there for you to see if you're looking.
Inside I met , the host for the evening. Levi is an educator at Wildwood school and is working to bring new Maker learning spaces to Los Angeles. Levi is also featured in the current issue of Make magazine. Most importantly, Levi has lived in the Belmont Shore area and is very familiar with Long Beach. I knew there was a reason I went to Culver City!
Dale Dougherty and Make Magazine editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder arrived and circulated around the fifteen or so persons in the room. By the time the meeting started, the group had swelled to about forty. Any more and we'd have had to store some people outside.
Dale shared his vision of establishing Makerspaces in schools. Shared spaces in a location where the kids spend 1/3 of their time. After school use of spaces that already have tools and equipment defined. Figuring out a way to make making accessible to youth where they are most comfortable. Rather than bring the child to the Makerspace, take the Makerspace to the child.
Levi suggested the New City School in Long Beach which, apparently, is shutting down. I had to stem my initial instinct... the one which put negative thoughts into my head. Thoughts that it couldn't be done, that no one would agree to it. That we'd have to deal with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) bureaucracy, and that there was no way it would ever happen. I said: "I'll ask."
The discussion moved to mobile Makerspaces. Vans filled with equipment that could move from one location to the next.
And what about expertise? It's not trivial! Before I continue with this thought, I must first remind you... myself... of some of the philosophies of making.
- Making includes everyone in the world through a simple concept: everyone makes something.
- Making celebrates DIY philosophy in any form. Baking a cake from scratch. Weaving a basket. Sewing by hand... or with a simple sewing machine... or with a fancy sewing machine that does embroidery. And of course, my favorite, making Lemonade.
- Making facilitates the sharing of knowledge by creating a community space for that sharing to occur. Those who know sharing with those who want to know.
- Making is especially useful where expensive tools and equipment... and technology... is concerned.
Now, back to expertise. It's not trivial, is it?
There was discussion of Master Makers (like Master Gardeners). I'd like to put this conversation into context. We were at Crash Space, a hackerspace (type of Makerspace). We were at an electronics space where the delivery is El lighting and the Arduino. Where the projects can be more and more difficult. Any engineer will tell you... "I'm just a (mechanical, software, electrical, <insert engineer type here>) engineer". No one knows everything.
Dale understands that each community will define the Makerspace it implements. It can only happen that way. Because the value of Makerspaces is the community that lives in the space. That growing body of knowledge as we try, fail, try again.
No formal "I'm a Maker" certification is necessary. The achievements of the individual youth will be their certification. A young student can point to his achievement, documented as he shares his projects with the world.
So, Residents of Long Beach, Robotics Societies, Artists I have met, Hackerspaces I have Visited and yes, Random Strangers on the internet... What now? Can we do it? Can we make Making happen in Long Beach?
Before we parted, Dale announced that he would like to see a MakerFaire happen here in the Los Angeles area. Not a Mini-Makerfaire, but the big scale, fire breathing kind of Makerfaire! To which I bravely piped: Long Beach!
And to you, Dale Dougherty, I say "Consider it. Come and visit our fair city and see all that is good about it. Visit our cosy yet substantial convention center, and our Shoreline Park. Visualize Brolly Flock and Face Forward on the lawn at Shoreline Park. See where the Steampunk area can be. See how many artists and creators we have within just a few square miles."
Tips, Things, Trails
- I poked around Crash Space and met Young Maker Luke, who is a summer intern from Wildwood. He showed me the cutting equipment, the materials cut with it, the 3D printers. Almost all of the equipment, even the 3D printers and the laser cutter, was donated... Stuff folks had and wanted to share.
- While at Crash Space I met a couple of Makers.
- I met ham operator Maker Kent Hastings who showed me some of his many transceivers and gadgets, a book he wrote and some magazine contributions he's made. I came away with several copies of Mondo Cult.
- There was James McLain (with the origami face) of Whalebone IR and Software.
- There was Jeff Geoffray of Vumanity, which makes video processing software.
- I also came away with a copy of Make: 26.
Want more lemonade?
I'm still curious about the flowers in my garden.
Need to contact me? firstname.lastname@example.org
Trish Tsoiasue writes as herself about creative and maker topics for and as Handmade Penguin for the Handmade Penguin Blog.