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Posted by Quinten Spires ● Sep 25, 2019 9:47:58 AM

5 Reasons a Makerspace is Good for YOUR Town

background-blank-craft-301703-2Interest in makerspaces in the United States has grown immensely in the last few years. In 2014, the White House even hosted its first MakersFaire and the president of the country at the time, Barrack Obama, calling the United States a “nation of makers” while taking a whole week to promote the cause. In the state of Ohio alone there are more than 20+ spaces available to residents and travelers. The Hocking Makers Network seeks to expand on the idea of a nation of makers by giving the Appalachia Ohio region a network of makers and makerspaces. We want to make this area a mecca for makers, somewhere anyone can be a maker. 

What is a makerspace?

A makerspace is a place where people with shared interests can come together and work on projects, share ideas, and use space to run anything from a YouTube channel to a full-blown business. There are so many things that can be done at a makerspace that the possibilities are just the extent of your imagination and drive to create. While some makerspaces have a large variety of tools and equipment, some are much more focused on one or a few particular interests. The Hocking Makers Network is one example of a makerspace but instead of being one single location, it has several buildings that cater to different needs i.e. Wood, Metal, Glass, etc. To sum it up, basically a gym for creating.

Why would a makerspace be good for your town?

We finally get to the question everyone is asking. “Why would this be good for me and my town?”, is a question I get a lot when talking to people about the Hocking Makers Network. While there are many reasons, I took out the 5 most important reasons, condensed them, and put them together into digestible, easy to understand bites:

1. Students will have a place to grow and expand

I understand you have probably heard a million times that a public school is cutting art and extracurricular activities because of funding. You have probably also heard how students do not really have a place to grow and develop interests besides their phones and Instagram because they do not have these creative outlets. It can even just boil down to someone with the drive to create and innovate being stunted by the cost of equipment and guidance. This is, in my opinion, the number one reason makerspaces are good for towns because I was that kid who could not afford the fancy tools and materials to create the crazy ideas that popped into my head. Many makerspaces offer discounts or even free* programs for primary, secondary, and post-secondary students. Giving space for students to be innovational and experiment can help with trial and error. This helps them form problem-solving skills. You never know if the next great inventor or genius is being suppressed by the lack of opportunities to grow.

2. Entrepreneurs can have a place to start and incubate businesses

Starting and running a business is expensive. I know, what a surprise, but what if I told you there was an option way cheaper than buying a building or even overpriced commercial space? Well, you are in luck because I have the answer to that question! Every makerspace I have been to and even spoken with offer some form of coworking space. “What is co-working space?”, you may ask. Coworking space is a business provision model that has individuals working independently or collaboratively in a shared space. I always like to refer to is as a study hall but people are actually doing something instead of sleeping or being unproductive. If you want to start a business or you have a business and need affordable space then the coworking space in a makerspace just might be the answer to your needs. The chances to network with individuals and businesses can also be a valuable resource. You could even reach out to makers in the space to help you make physical products if you needed. The big sell though, fast internet. Makerspaces tend to have super-fast internet which is invaluable for a business.

3. Communities can have a place to come together

I live in rural southeast Ohio where there are many small villages around larger cities, outside of bars and restaurants, have little to no places for the community to have events. This is where a makerspace can be extremely useful. Makerspaces are known to host and hold many different types of events, a lot open to the public. Having a place where you can go to meet people or just hang out with those you already know can extremely positive for you. It is pretty safe to say that we do not do a lot of communicating without a screen in front of our face and with the “death of the mall”, public gathering places have dwindled in many places. Tying in with what I said in the first reason about how students can grow, a makerspace can be a friendly, safe location for them to develop important social skills that can help them in their future endeavors.

4. You can $ave money

Not to sound too redundant, since I have been eluding to this in just about every reason, but there is more than one way you can save money with having a makerspace. A lot of makerspaces have a tool library or a loan a tool program. If you are not aware, tools can be very expensive, especially if you need something very particular. Another way is that if you need a workbench but do not want to go and buy one or build one, you can use one at the makerspace. You can even meet people who may be willing to help with that expensive kitchen renovation or home project you have been putting off because you are not quite sure how to go about it. For new homeowners, you can use the space to learn how to properly maintain your home or other life skills, like sewing.

5. Anyone can learn something new

No one knows everything; that is the unfortunate truth. On the bright side though, we can constantly learn new things and build upon our prior knowledge and experience. People love to learn, even those who say they do not. Most makerspaces offer some kind of training for tools and even classes on skills. Also, with the freedom to tinker, people can consistently learn new things by just messing around. With makerspaces having many different types of people from all walks of life, you can even learn new communicational and social skills which are always helpful. Having somewhere you can network with skilled individuals can also extremely help you learn. Thinking about starting a business but do not know how to go about it? Talk with someone who runs their business out of the coworking space and ask how they personally went about it. The learning possibilities are endless!

How can you help?

Showing interest in a makerspace to your community leaders is probably one of the best ways to get one in your own town. Wondering how you can get involved and help the Hocking Makers Network? The easiest way to show support is to fill out a short survey which is linked below.
We await your responses.

About the Hocking Makers Network:
The Hocking Makers Network is devoted to empowering people to find their passions through an introduction to tools; approachable, affordable classes; and workshop membership opportunities to pursue their interests on their own. Pipelines to (1) workforce development, (2) higher education, (3) entrepreneurial endeavors, or (4) avenues to explore new hobbies all contribute to the value that the HMN provides to Nelsonville and surrounding communities.

Topics: hocking makers network, makerspace