The short happy life of a Popup Makerspace

We’re out of empty offices at Local 64, so it’s time to pack up the laser cutter, the 3D printer and all the other toys. if you build it, it turns out most people are too busy to come. Six months of mostly weekly laser nights garnered maybe a dozen or two visitors. Half a dozen of those came back for additional sessions, and two people commissioned honest to goodness jobs that brought in some return.

One of the people who came by multiple times wanted to do a project — and we wanted to used him as a tester for a simple course in using the Glowforge without burning anything down — but he has a day job that takes most of his time, so three months after his first laser night he had only one tiny test file to show for his efforts. And that one caught on fire.

Winter in Vermont: also a problem. It’s no fun sending out a flurry of notices telling people about an event, only to end with a cancellation a few hours beforehand because of that pesky eight inches of evening snow on the way. (And even more of a problem for people with kids, because they’ve got hockey, skiing, snowboarding, almost anything to do but sit in a room learning about lasers.)

Lessons for next time, assuming that there is a next time? Biggest one: way more promotion. Notices on local social media will bring in some people, but not enough. More events, targeted at a broader ranger of people. Events with food and drink. More flexible scheduling. Workshops, also flexibly scheduled. Location? Good question. I know some people reported they couldn’t find us up on the back of the second floor. More variety? Sure. All that means it can’t be a one-person operation (which we knew already, but that involves even more scheduling, which see above…)

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1 Response to The short happy life of a Popup Makerspace

  1. Garrett says:

    Hey there!

    My name is Garrett, I’m a president of a Makerspace club in a small community college in Idaho, and I’ve been looking for some advice on creating a Makerspace of our own. The long story short, my college is not the richest nor is it the quickest; there are a few buildings being planned but any dedicated space for such a project is possibly decades in the making; thus my stumbling upon your blog posts.

    I am really sad to see this Makerspace go by the wayside, but small rural places often don’t get the attention they deserve or require… Honestly, my biggest fear is that the movement dies when I transfer to a University; our 3D printers might just be left to sit and gather dust. In order to combat that, I have a couple of ideas on utilizing some of the (very limited) library space granted to us by the college; but outside of 3D printing and vinyl cutting, I know very little about the space, tools, or know-how necessary to get it to operate effectively.

    Although the pop-up makerspace have met its end, would you have any advice to share with a similar small project on the other side of the country? Outside of 3D printing and vinyl cutting, what technologies should we incorporate? How can we hold workshops or offer services that cost as low as possible? The goal is to make this as public as possible; would you have any ideas for doing just that?

    Thanks for your time,
    – Garrett

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