We are very grateful to be part of the Nation of Makers community.
The very first Nation of Makers conference (NOMCON) was held at our doorstep (in Santa Fe, New Mexico).
It was memorable and a wonderful way to meet a diverse group of makers from all over the country.
It was a wonderful opportunity to share ideas and experiences, to learn from each other's successes and mistakes and to explore ways to collaborate and innovate.
We were able to gather a few pitfalls to avoid when starting a makerspace, but also things to do.
From our research, experience, and conversations, we observed a few trends:
Some reasons why makerspaces fail:
- They had significant startup money from an outside source with no accountability.
- They saw too big, with little experience.
- The leaders had no skin in the game.
- Administrators were just administrators or marketers with no real interest in "making".
- They had their own idea of what a makerspace should be.
- They charged too much.
- They didn't charge at all.
- They had too much paid staff.
A few reasons why makerspaces succeed:
- They built a community first!
Space, tools and equipment are not enough to make a makerspace. Who you serve and how you serve them matters a lot! Get to know your audience and engage them...
- They have devoted supporters that are in for the long run.
- This point is connected to the previous point: They are housed or supported by a large and stable organization that believes in them (University, government etc).
- They have great self-less volunteers who care about their community.
- They have free space.
- They are diverse.
We are very glad to have been able to avoid those pitfalls.
Los Alamos Makers is doing fairly well so far, and growing ...but tomorrow is not promised. For the past 2 years, we have continued to engage our community and made sure we serve its needs as best we can.
We are an all-volunteer organization and have no other agenda than to provide services and opportunities to our community and we hope to be able to continue for many more years.
We are lucky to have the support of self-less volunteers, a growing member base and until now the financial support of individuals and sponsors who care enough about our mission.
I stumbled upon this talk a few days ago. We, as an organization, couldn't agree more with the message Gina Lujan gives in her talk. A successful makerspace is all about community.
If you have a few minutes, I invite you to listen to how she embarked on the makerspace journey and the lessons she's learned in the video below. Some of those lessons are valid beyond just growing a makespace...