Community Makerspaces: The Cast of Players

Every successful collaboration takes a balanced team to succeed and community makerspaces are no different.  Like a well oiled race car pit team, miss one of the personas on your team, and the wheels might fall off.  Below is a first pass at how to describe these roles that members play.  This analysis is not to say that missing a piece means failure, but it is meant to better understand the roles that each member may play in a community.  After visiting non-profit, for profit, and corporate spaces we believe that this model is a good starting point for a discussion to empower each archetype and elevate the community as a whole.

The Cast: 

The Dreamer/Visionary –  Every space has a least one.  This is the person who sees a big vision. It might be the vision for a really big  project, the makerspace itself, the community at large or how to change the world.  The Dreamers inspire us to be our better selves, to reach for something more, to crawl out of the muck and find stars.

The Questioners – Every space needs at least one ( maybe two) for every dreamer. These are the people who can turn a dream into a plan.  They are also the people who ground some of the dreams- asking WHY? HOW? and WHO?  are critical for success and prioritization. If a makerspace tries to tackle too many things at once, too soon- failure is sure to follow.   Without a dreamer around, questioners will turn to everyone else in the space and question their actions, which can cause tension and friction.

The Builders –  These are your “get er done” team.  They love to take a plan and execute.  They love to tinker and create.  They are the ones you find at all hours in the space, tools busy.  Without a team of builders, spaces and projects never get off the paper. Without a plan, Builders still tinker– and some crazy, amazing things may emerge.   Without a dreamer around,  Barbie and Ken dolls may end up headless….

The Negotiators –  These are the deal makers.  It might be cutting a deal with an equipment vendor, negotiating with a land lord, or brokering peace between squabbling members.  They make it possible for the really big dreams to happen, seeming to make resources appear out of thin air..  although we have noticed that first born children sometimes go missing ;).

The Bards – Also known as the Sales team, these folks sing the praises of the space, the vision and cool projects.  They work with media, talk to complete strangers by preference and breathe social media.  These are the folks who spread the word, helping a makerspace to grow and funding to appear.  Just as importantly, they are also the story tellers, the ones who collect and hold the history and traditions of a space and help to build its culture and community.

The Stewards – Last, but in no ways least are the caretakers of the space.  Every space must have at least one, and if you can grow a few, it helps to keep them from burning out.  These are the folks who care and nurture the space itself.  You know them, they know where everything is and they pick up after the last crazy round of project making.  They make sure consumables are stocked, they take out the trash and make sure the website is correctly updated.  They are the quietly beating heart of the space itself, keeping everything running.

Here are 3 ways to use this list :

Three Boys Dressed as Nerds with Mind Reading Helmets

    1. 1. Have a little fun- can you name who at your makerspace fits each of these personas?How have you thanked these people lately?
    1. Burnout is always a risk in a volunteer organization. A little thanks goes a long way.
    1. Remember, these are personas, not people so sometimes people wear more than one hat.


woman in glasses looking up with light idea bulb


2. Plan for Success.  Are you planning to start a makerspace?   Is your makerspace struggling to scale or even to keep the doors open?  Make sure your team is balanced and all of the personas are covered.




3.  Define yourself.  What role(s) do you play in your makerspace?  Are you over- extended? Are you playing the role you enjoy the most?  Without the ability to carry out your persona with passion and joy, you will burn out and neither you nor your space will be better for it.


This may not be a definitive list of Community Makerspace Personas- did we miss any? Comment and let us know if this resonates with you or if there are roles we missed.

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