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Journal-Pioneer Feature Article

- Posted on December 11, 2015 by

Thanks to Colin MacLean and the Journal-Pioneer for giving us some coverage in the paper and online! Full text of the article is here:

The lights are flickering in the half-finished room where the only furniture is an old couch and a beach chair.

It doesn’t look like much right now, but Chris Willcock and his friends have big plans for this space so in need of some tender loving care.

When they look around it, they imagine artisans honing their crafts, hobbyists learning from each other and inventors collaborating on their next innovation.

They want to turn this unused Greenwood Drive building into Summerside’s first ‘makerspace.’

“We’re trying to build a self-sustaining community who want to be creative with technology. Technology of all kinds, whether it’s woodworking, solar panels, electronics, this is a space that welcomes all creatives,” said Willcock.

Makerspaces, also known as hacklabs, are starting to pop up in cities all over the world.

They function as shared workspaces, where hobbyists, artists, programmers and tinkerers can gather, share resources, learn from each other and teach others.

Members pay a nominal fee and get access to the space and its equipment. If they’re comfortable with doing so, some members will be called on to teach classes in the space or give demonstrations of their skills to raise money to help support the space. They’re also usually supported by industry and other community groups.

“Part of it is almost like an old-fashioned co-op where you can share equipment that you normally couldn’t afford or have the space for on your own. But really the community is what it’s all about; it’s the people and their knowledge transfer,” said Derek Campbell, one of the organizers of the space.

The other two main organizers for the Summerside Makerspace are Aaron Boeker and Steve Howard.

All the men have a deep interest in technology and innovation and see this project as an opportunity for the community. Plus it’s a good excuse to meet and hang out with people who share their interests.

“It’s just going into the unknown. Why do we have a large hadron-collider in the world? Just to find out things we don’t know,”  said Howard.

“So getting a bunch of folks together to create something new is probably going to create something that we can’t even predict. That’s what I see coming from the makerspace.”

The organizers are currently getting some cleanup crews together for the their chosen location, known as the Summerside Venture Centre, which has been made available by the City of Summerside.

Eventually, they will put out a call for donations to help get the space off the ground, said Willcock, but for right now, they’re focused on getting the space cleaned up and freshly painted.

Anyone who might have some gently used tools, art supplies or other materials can contact the organizers through the makerspace’s website, www.summersidemakerspace.ca. Anyone interested in becoming a member of the space can also contact them through the website.

“We would be looking for support in the form of time, treasure and talent,” said Willcock.

They hope to have the makerspace cleaned up, and within the next month or so have the first members working shortly thereafter and finally host an open house by mid-March.



An Excerpt from the December Economic Development Office Newsletter / City of Summerside

- Posted on December 8, 2015 by

Summerside Economic Development is set to partner with community leaders, to open up the first Makerspace in Summerside. A makerspace is a workshop that provides tools, materials and space in a community environment where youth and adults alike work independently or collaboratively on creative projects in any area – computer programming to woodworking, painting to mechanical engineering.

Participants pay for membership and members offer classes on focused topics for a small fee-per attendee, to raise funds for supplies and other costs including rents and utilities. Corporate members are welcome as are donations of time, treasure and talent in the form of expert advice, donations of supplies and working tools and/or in-kind services.

At the makerspace, people gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network and build. The availability of real working tools and nearby colleagues putting them to practical use opens the doors of thinking big and testing ideas while the culture of do-it yourself, sharing knowledge and experimentation grows the capabilities of the group. Makerspaces are zones of self-directed learning in a shared setting. The makerspace is the ultimate workshop for the tinkerer and the perfect educational space for individuals who learn best by doing.