Your local maker-space - a powerful resource you might be missing!

By Eric Arthur Blair | The Open Source | 28 Apr 2021

Ever wish you'd heard about BTC when it was $5 a coin? If you were hanging out in your local maker-space at the time, odds are you would have! If you're anything like me, that doesn't mean you'd have done the smartest thing with that information, but the important point remains that your area almost certainly has a community-owned workspace filled with clever and forward-thinking folks who are eager to share their skills, knowledge, and discuss everything cutting-edge.

If you have interest in technology, art, science, or just learning how things work, then your local makerspace has tools and resources waiting to help empower you. If you haven't taken the time to get to know the makerspaces in your area, you absolutely owe it to yourself to have a look and see what you've been missing.


Open Window Makerspace - CC-SA 4.0

What do maker-spaces offer?

Tools, classes, and community. Makerspaces tend to be a mix of a social hangout space and a shared workshop, with the occasional presentation held by people who love their hobby and want to share or teach. It's often an incubator for startups, and serves like a well stocked garage for creating anything you can put your mind to. The social environment can also lead to surprise opportunities for collaboration and networking, and you might even happen to find some team members or mentors for your projects along the way.

A wide variety of specialized tools are often available for public use, including 3d printers, laser cutters, soldering equipment, and more. Most makerspaces have resources for both metalworking and woodworking. You might also find them equipped with test kitchens, computer security playgrounds, farms or hydroponics, a darkroom for photography, or a leather-working station, just to name a few. Every space is different, and many come to have specialties depending on what its active members are into. For example, foam-crafting and pottery became popular in my area which led to the availability of several pottery wheels and other specialty costume-crafting tools. 



C-Base in Berlin, one of the original maker-spaces photo by Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0


Classes: Maker-spaces can be a fantastic place to get an introductory classes on coding, electronics, robotics, sewing, and much more. Sessions on how to use and program Arduino boards are especially popular, though your local space might have classes on literally anything. These tend to be run for free, or for just the cost of materials. It's also a place where you might share your own skills, if you have the desire to host a session or a club!

Clubs & Community: Many different groups might base out of your makerspace, hosting everything from discussion circles to LAN parties. Ours hosted a "Coffee and Cryptocurrency" back in 2011 with free paper wallet handouts for all, followed by a class on aquaponic vertical gardening. Most spaces also have regular open general meeting and invite participation in the governance of the space by members in a democratic and consensus based way.




Does it cost money?

Every space is different, but most make a number of tools and classes available to anyone. For full access, they usually ask for a small amount in membership dues. For those with special circumstances, many makerspaces might consider volunteer contributions such as teaching some classes or doing handywork for the space in lieu of paying monetary dues. 



The fundamental principle of makerspaces


How do I find a makerspace near me?

Your local library may have some form of makerspace, or you may be able to find it in one of the directories below. None are comprehensive but most of them have most locations:




As the world opens up again, I hope that you'll treat yourself and go check out your local makerspace. No matter who you are or what your interests are, I'm certain you'll find something cool to get into there!

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Eric Arthur Blair
Eric Arthur Blair

A technology educator blogging about open source projects and DIY awesomeness

The Open Source
The Open Source

Straightforward coverage of open source projects, the maker movement, DIY 3D printing, and crypto.

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