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Making the Data- your feedback requested

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This coming Labor Day weekend, the Nation of Makers Data Working Group is updating and prepping language for the 2019 Survey of Makers.

The team has been posting links on Facebook asking for feedback on questions and language, but we know that not every maker is a Facebook user, so we wanted to share the links here to make sure you had a chance to review/comment on.

Review and Update the Question about Tools in your Makerspace

Review and Update the Question about Services your Makerspace Offers

Review and Update the Question about what you use your Makerspace for

Review and Update the Question about Leadership Training

Review and Update the Question about the work it takes to run a Makerspace

Review and Update the Question about Roles in a Makerspace

Review and Update the Question about Professional Services you use in your Makerspace

Why is your feedback important? The survey is being used as a first source of data that maker groups and organizations can use to measure themselves, justify asks through grant writing or other partnerships and for us to learn about ourselves.

Results from the 2018 Survey are being processed and shared on a Blog where the group is aiming for monthly updates. One of the lessons learned was that the number of “write-in” answers was high because of missing standard responses that fit. This makes the data more cumbersome to process and analyze, so the team is asking for community feedback to help better shape the options on these questions better. The hope is that it will make some analysis easier and faster next year… so please take 10 minutes, click through and leave any feedback that will help.

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Make Nashville: Expanded Space Grand Opening

Congratulations to Make: Nashville on the smashing success of their Grand Opening at the new space. Their new space is 12,000 square feet of amazing making potential, which also gives them room to rent out some dedicated studio space. Although not a part of Indiana Makers, they are a short drive to visit for many of our spaces, and we recommend stopping in and getting a tour if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

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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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Meet the Makers: Maker13

Located in Jeffersonville, IN in the heart of an area newly designated as an arts district and in the middle of rejuvenation we found Maker13.  Maker13 is a for-profit makerspace where members join to make products for their own use, for their business use or to sell as a business.  The embroidery machine is a big hit, getting solid usage and their laser cutters are almost always busy.  Users range from a local real estate agent who makes special closing gifts at the space to folks whose goods are for sale on Etsy and other websites.

Tool/equipment usage is all taught through project based classes and completing a class gives members the ability to use the equipment for their own personal projects.

The space is also very active in the community ( see the photo of a giant light bright board under construction for an upcoming community event) and have a solid but growing membership who sometimes just meet for maker chat over coffee and a snack.

We are happy to have this group in our Indiana Maker family and look forward to continuing to see great things happening here.

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Meet the Makers: First Build, a Rapid Prototyping and Micro-Manufacturing Center.

We got the chance to make our first visit to a full production Rapid Prototyping and Micro Manufacturing Center the other day, when we stopped by First Build in Lousiville, KY.

I had to chuckle when our guide started out the tour saying ” I have never been to a makerspace, people tell me I am spoiled”.

A collaboration between GE and University of Louisville, but open to the public- First Build provides local makers ( or distant ones traveling through) access to all the tools you know how to use.  Upon logging in, creating an account and signing the waver, you are a “member” and are granted access to their Maker area.  This includes basic power tools, 3D printers, soldering/electronics, board reflow ovens, graphic design/CAD capable computers and laser cutters. The more powerful tools are in the Craftsman area, which is accessible only when you have passed competence assessment on the tool you want to use.  There are 4 pieces of large equipment in the Craftsman area that no one other than staff are allowed to use ( impact of downtime is too large for their production needs).  You can, however put in orders for those pieces of equipment and pay reasonable costs for machine time.  It is important to note that First Build does not provide any training, so if you want to use some equipment here, you need to hit up youtube or other training sources before making use of the facility.

The GE staff who are located here have a goal to design at least 12 new product designs/product upgrades each year.  If you are an appliance geek, you can design along with them- they have collaborative online designing capabilities. If your designs are used, you will share in royalties as well.  Everything here is open and shared with contributors, a true breathe of fresh air in approach from a large corporation.  The Opal ( for the good ice) is an example of a GE product birthed here.

University of Louisville students frequently use the space for class projects, and GE staff mentor engineering students for their capstone project.  It is a win/win- with the students having access to production level equipment to learn from and GE sourcing great potential new employees from the students who pass through.

Since First Build is fully owned subsidiary of GE, they implement full 5S practices in the space and have daily 8:15 staff stand up meetings to discuss the priority of short batch production orders that have come through from GE and other special orders.  A typical short production order ranges from 100-1500 parts.  The electronics components they have for sale are all the standard GE parts, allowing them to go from prototyping to production easily.

We loved their signage, especially how they put links to manuals or instructional videos in the Maker room on or near all the equipment.

Like everyone else, we can tell them they are spoiled, but are glad this resource is reasonably close and available for others to share.


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