Afterglow

We had a great turnout for the MIXXER mixer on Sunday. Nearly 100 people total stopped by to share ideas about what MIXXER should be. We heard so many great ideas, and the excitement in people’s voices was undeniable. We are off to a great start. We are currently processing the data we collected to determine the area with the most interest so we can cultivate those channels, and continue to seek input to further develop a comprehensive program for MIXXER.IMG_3728

What we have learned so far:

  • Top 3 categories of interest from survey – Woodworking, Metal Working, Glass based & Textile based (tie).
  • Over 50% of those surveyed want to utilize services and space at MIXXER.
  • Over 25% of those surveyed want to volunteer at MIXXER.
  • 20% of those surveyed want to be a mentor at MIXXER.

 

We will continue to collect input from the community, but we now have a place to start developing programming, and we have identified people that are interested in doing the work to push this project to the next level. I’ll keep you posted on developments. It’s going to be exciting – Stay tuned.

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MIXXER research continues

July 23, 2014

 

Today I toured some interesting facilities in Raleigh and Durham. Liberty Arts, The Scrap Exchange, SplatSpace, SuperGraphic, and Raleigh Makerspace. All of these places subscribe to the mantra that together we can accomplish more. These places all utilize the leverage of shared resources to empower people to follow their heart and create things. Liberty Arts is chock full of beautiful metal sculptures and extremely talented people creating them. Next-door The Scrap Exchange is providing a channel for unused materials to be inventoried so that they can be used rather than fill up our landfills, as well as providing educational and outreach opportunities to their community. SplatSpace, SuperGraphic, and Raleigh Makerspace provide high-tech and specialized equipment that would be out of reach for the average person to empower them to exercise their talent for creating.

 

The one thing that I felt at all of these places is the importance of community building. In questioning the people that manage these places I found consistently that they have found that building strong relationships is the key to their success. All of these operations have their challenges, but it seems that teamwork can overcome many obstacles.

 

This sense of community building is what I am counting on as the driving force behind MIXXER. If you are new here, MIXXER is a makerspace project that will be opening in Winston-Salem in the future. Currently MIXXER is a large number of people having conversations and making plans to open a space where people can share resources to build the things that are important to them. This Sunday – July 27, 2014 these people of Winston-Salem will come together to let their voices be heard to direct us to the type of facilities that the community will support.

 

There will be entrepreneurs that build electric cars and their components, talented architectural lighting designers, artists and craftsmen, and many other talented people that believe in the power of sharing resources and relying on community to help them use their talents to build a better more fulfilled life for themselves. If any of this sounds interesting to you – contact me:  alan@wsmixxer.org or come to our party at The Olio 918 Bridge St. Winston-Salem, NC on July 27, 2014 from 4 to 7pm. I hope to hear from you soon.

The Forge opens their Greensboro location July 22, 2014

 

In doing research for MIXXER I took a drive out to Greensboro tonight to check out The Forge  – Greensboro’s new maker/hacker space. Their grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Tuesday July 22. I have to tell ya – That place is super cool. From the custom made doors and architectural features, to the back-yard canopy that is truly a work of art, the style of the place screams inspiration and ingenuity. Their arsenal of tools is small at the moment, but they are still setting up so that is no surprise. One of the nicest features is the uber-cozy back room complete with a mix of art deco and craftsman furniture, handmade art pieces, and of course a plethora of high-tech tools, including a 3D printer. The only downsideIMG_3646 I can see to the place is that it’s so comfy-cozy that people may be just chillin’ too much to get any work done.

 

But all of that hip décor and high-tech equipment is not what I consider the greatest asset to The Forge. The greatest asset of The Forge is the people. Co-Founder Mario Aldayuz told me an abridged version of how the Forge came into being, here’s a quick synopsis:

 

In January 2013 Joseph Adams sent word out via the internet that he wants to gather a group of people to open a makers space in Greensboro. He went to a local coffee shop and waited. It didn’t take long before this became a regular occurrence, and Joseph found he was not alone in his vision to create a makers space. Greensboro Hackerspace was born – in a coffee shop by a small group of guys sitting around talking and planning. An amazing thing happened – these guys started paying membership dues before any equipment was procured, before a space was found or developed. These guys believed in this plan enough to invest in it with little to no guarantee that it would work. Now one and a half years later The Forge, formerly known as Greensboro Hackerspace, is opening their doors to the public.

 

There is one other great story about the power of people and their commitment to the project. The fantastic space that houses The Forge – right in some of the most desirable real estate in Greensboro- was provided at a very reasonable rate by a local entrepreneur and real estate developer. I’ll not share his name until I get his approval, but this guy believes in the concept and the people of The Forge enough to foot the bill on the upfit of this beautiful old building. (It’s beautiful now, but it was in rough shape a year ago) This forward thinking developer sees the potential in a place like The Forge, and he put his money down to prove it.

 

People investing in their own future, in their community; this is one of the greatest things about maker spaces and places of that type. Leveraging the power of sharing and community to make a better world – that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

MIXXER

Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 11.19.17 PMis the name of my latest project. MIXXER will be a maker space in Winston-Salem, NC, and if that is a new term for you – a maker space is a place where people gather to share resources to make things. The kinds of things made, and the way they are made, depend on the people that organize and use the maker space. MIXXER could be a mix of artists space, a metal shop, wood shop, rapid prototype shop, robotics lab, scrap exchange and more (or less); really there are few parameters to constrain what happens in a makers space. The only real constraint, other than physics, is the limitations of the imagination and interests of the people that participate.

I have talked to a lot of people about this idea for a few years now; starting out as casual conversations, and then over time the conversation came more frequently and with more intensity. What I have discovered is that there are a lot of people in the Winston-Salem community that connect with the idea of a maker space. I decided it is time to move beyond just talking about it; MIXXER is an idea Winston-Salem is ready for.

Recently I partnered with Community Design Studio to ask for help in organizing a meeting to start developing a plan to bring MIXXER into being. Steve Harberger of CDS helped me to conduct a meeting with some influential people in Winston-Salem. Now there is a team of people working to bring MIXXER into being. So far we have some preliminary objectives that we need to meet to begin formally organizing. In addition to the research we are doing, we are throwing a party on Sunday July 27 from 4-7pm at The Olio at 840 Millworks St. Winston-Salem, NC 27101 where we will gather people to introduce them to MIXXER. When all of these people arrive to see and meet all the other people in town that are interested in sharing resources, I believe we’ll be able to get people to commit to supporting MIXXER.

MIXXER will take advantage of the power of sharing to make it possible for people to take their great ideas from vision to reality. If you consider the cost of high-tech equipment and the space to use it, for an individual with a need for a specialty tool or machine it should not take too much calculating to see the power of sharing. Need a welder to build a custom piece for your motorcycle – sign up with MIXXER. Need tools to build a new cabinet or table for your home – sign up with MIXXER. Have an idea for a new invention and need to make a prototype – sign up with MIXXER. Soon you will be able to sign up. For now you need only make your voice heard. Contact me to tell me your vision, and if you show up at our party you’ll have plenty of opportunity to be heard.

More to come later so keep checking in. Things are really heating up.