Monday, July 7, 2008

Maker shop

I recently had an idea for we creative urbanites. I love living in a city but unless I happen to suddenly come into a lot of cash I'll be confined to a flat. That pretty much rules out any kind of shed, garage, or workshop where I can tinker or play with heavy machinery without upsetting my neighbours. And surely there are so many others in the same position - unable to exercise their mechanically creative bent due to lack or tools and a place to keep and operate those tools.

The same is true of exercise equipment. But thankfully - if you are so inclined - you can join a gym. So why not organize some kind of membership based city workshop? The idea would be to get together and house a collection of workshop tools in a suitable inner city location. Member subscriptions would pay for the operation and upkeep of the workshop. The cost could be split across many members who would have access to facilities beyond the reach of even the best equipped personal sheds and such! Makers living in even the tiniest studios would have a place to create and construct and the community feel would no doubt generate an excellent creative environment that would encourage the transfer of knowledge and skills.

Of course there would be some hurdles - health and safety would be a huge concern. In the gym would this is tackled by having inductions and trained supervisors. Could we not have similar in our workshop clubs?

I also think that there are a few different models of operation that we could adopt:

  • Commerical operation - for profit, income from membership subscriptions.

  • Not for profit collective - a group of individuals get together and run the club for the benefit of themselves

  • Community project - Involve the local community, make links with technical colleges etc., gather funding from the local council.

  • or perhaps a mix or some of the above?

Now I should mention that this idea is not wholly original - there was an episode of CSI where a group of combat robot enthusiasts operated a similar venture. In this instance one of the characters gave shop time to friends (and enemies as the plot required). But don't let that put you off.

No comments: