[EMS Discuss] Maker Space Tour Report

Mark Danburg-Wyld danburgwyld at gmail.com
Sat Mar 29 19:12:08 PDT 2014

I was sorry to miss this morning's EMS improvement day. The reason was, I
spent the better part of yesterday and today up the street in Portland.
While there, I was able to tour a couple of other maker spaces, ADX (
http://www.adxportland.com) and Flux (http://fluxlab.io). I thought I'd
write up a few notes about each, in case it inspires any ideas for further
improving EMS. :-)

ADX is a larger space, around 10,000 sq. ft. There's multiple sub-spaces
within there - a front reception area, a modeling/3D printing/laser
cutter/soldering area just off of that, together around 1000-1500 sq ft,
plus a coffee bar/lounge area with a separate door to the street (about
another 1500-2000 sq ft). The rest is straight shop. There's a good sized
wood shop, including a CNC that would easily fit a 4'x8' sheet of plywood,
bunch of standing tools, etc. The metal shop has numerous welding stations,
grind area, etc. I didn't get a good look at the interior of either shop,
just a view through the door. The rest of the shop space is sublet to
personal artisans - at least three dedicated 'studios'.

The overall vibe is more of a co-working craftsman space. The person giving
us the tour said there are a fair number of 'hobby-ist' members as well, or
people who are primarily interested in learning to weld or whatever. But
the bulk of it seems to be people making a living out of the shop. The 3D
printing/laser cutting area looked a little under-utilized, comparatively -
when I was there, there were 4 or 5 people working in the wood area, no-one
in the metal shop, and two guys in the modeling area but just using it as a
hang-out space it looked like.

Flux bills itself as a "feminist hackerspace", although open to anyone.
It's about 1,000 sq. ft., in a more or less office-space, on the second
floor. The layout is very open, mostly given over to a more lounge area,
with numerous rentable desks along the walls. There's a 3-D printer and a
small desktop CNC machine, plus a station of hand-tools and a soldering
station. We got to talk to one of the main organizers, Molly, for quite a
while. She said it's primarily used as a space for members to have events
and to learn skills. They have at least one other organization (Pixel Arts (
http://www.gameeducationpdx.com/)) that works out of the space, renting a
desk and when we were there using the space for a training session for new
volunteers. Beside the plethora of comfortable chairs and tables, they had
a pretty good sized library (mostly computer programming related, maybe a
third more crafts oriented, plus a good 10% random/other).

I asked Molly what EMS might do to make our space more inviting to women,
in particular. She rattled off a number of ideas: smell, aesthetics, clear
labelling of tools, and having prominent & clear "no scoffing" and "no
asshole" rules. Smell doesn't mean perfumed, just if the space stinks of
stale beer and leftover pizza, that's a turn-off. The aesthetics piece is
mostly around cleanliness, although having things looks nice certainly
can't hurt. I was really struck by the idea about code of behavior - it can
mean a lot to walk in, knowing that even if you can't recall the name of
something that you're not going to be mocked for it. I encourage everyone
to take a look at Flux's STFU communication rules. It may not be what you
initially think from the acronym. :-)

Any questions about particulars of either space, let me know.

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