Here’s How to Build an Engine of Prosperity in Your Community


Here’s something EVERY community should have, but almost none do.

artisan asylum

This isn’t a picture of a factory or cubicles in an office building.

It’s a makerspace.   In this case, it’s the Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, MA.

What is a makerspace?  It’s a place where people in the community can go to make things.

I strongly believe this type of place is a much better way to help a community achieve its potential than a factory or an office building.

Here’s an example of that in action.

Two guys, Peter and Max, started a company called Wobbleworks to build toys that promote creative thought.

Peter Dilworth and Maxwell Bogue

To turn their ideas into reality, they joined a makerspace called the Artisan’s Asylum in nearby Somerville.

After some considerable effort, using both the professional tools and the helpful network of experts at the makerspace, they built a prototype of a new toy called 3Doodler.


It’s simply a pen that allows you to doodle in 3 dimensions.  As you can see in the following video, it looks like lots of fun, so I’m pretty sure it’s going to be at the top of a lot of Christmas lists this year.

Now, the next step is pretty important, and it’s why a makerspace will likely become an engine of prosperity in your community.

Building a Vibrant Community Economy

Once they developed 3Doodler, they didn’t go to a venture capitalist.  They didn’t negotiate a deal with Walmart, or any other big box store.  A process that would have siphoned the bulk of the company’s profits and sent them to Wall Street and other global casinos.

They had a better alternative.  They were able to pre-sell it directly to the public on Kickstarter.

Wobble word


This allowed potential customers to decided whether they wanted this product.

As you can see, the product was a hit.  Despite the modest goal they had (only $30,000 — a bootstrap goal is a very smart way to approach presales to the public), they have already sold over $2 million of the 3Doodler.

Thousands of people from around the world ordered it for delivery later this year.  In addition to customers, they now have a community of people that are passionate about what they do.

If they deliver as promised, this community will support them and their inventions for the rest of their creative lives.

Of course, that’s great for the local community.  Not only will this pair be a resource for others at the Artisan’s Asylum to tap for insight and advice, they will also become a local employer.

From what I’ve seen of makers in the past couple of years, they aren’t going to employ people at min wage like global companies do.  Their goal will be to create a team of increasingly skilled people, where everyone makes enough to afford a home and support a family.

Multiply what Peter and Max will do at Wobbleworks by ten or twenty, even at a much lower level of success, and you have the basis of a vital community economy.  A community economy that exports to the world to bring wealth home.  A community economy that can support local farmers and food artisans and invest in local energy production.

So, what are you waiting for?  

Build a makerspace in your community.  

Help the kids in your community build things there, before their brains are made into mush by the academic preparation needed to secure an increasingly irrelevant bureaucratic cubicle on Wall Street or in Washington.  

Get Resilient!




PS:  Here’s a list of makerspaces globally to check and see if your community has one.

PPS:  I covered one of the secrets to Kickstarter success February’s Resilient Strategies report.  Hope you caught it.  We’re in the process of increasing the number of reports/interviews and expanding the site at Resilient Strategies.  Please sign up soon, I truly believe it’s on track to becoming one of the best investments you can make in your future prosperity, success, and happiness.

JR Small

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  • Lex

    I like this. My personal energy is focused on growing food (at home with extreme intensive gardening, at a local farm, and in a hoop house project jointly funded by the local uni and food co-op as an educational space and fresh supply source for the culinary program), but I’ve often thought about these kinds of concepts for my small city.

    We’re 20K nestled against Lake Superior and the kind of place that many want to live in but end up leaving because there’s little opportunity in a place that used to be big in the traditional extraction industries of mining and logging. The trucks come in full and leave empty (except from the timber mills). Our startups include Pioneer Surgical, medical devices, and Vio Sport, small video cameras like Go Pro.

    I wonder why we’re not adding value to the lumber and shipping finished product? Why in a place with relatively low living costs that has a lot of potential to attract young people who desire an active lifestyle and opportunities of their own creation aren’t we doing everything we can to bring them here?

    What i need is a venture capitalist type because we have as good a test bed for the idea of a sustainable community as there is (I mean except having winter and all). I suppose I could start all the organizing myself :)

  • Scott Supak

    John, I think you mean Here’s How to Build AN Engine (not and).

    I came across this very interesting site yesterday. Not sure if you’d linked to it before.

    It runs a little slowly for me, on the satellite, and there’s not much up here my way anyway, but maybe you guys with the real internet can benefit from it.

    (Sorry about the first comment. My wife is Robin, and I call her Rob… D’oh)

    • John Robb

      Scott, I like that site too. JR

  • Thomas Fitzpatrick

    I can’t add my makerspace to the list: – In Downtown Oakland California

  • Don Foster


    This is a very cool idea. Unless you’re counting trickle down economics, I’m not sure how much this will help their local economy though. If you listen, at the end of the video one of the designers states that they have already been to China and are working with a factory there to produce 3-Doodlers.

    • John Robb


      That’s true. I wouldn’t expect it to be otherwise right now. Also, I wouldn’t toss in buzz words (particularly ones about taxes and wall street that don’t apply) to a critique of this.

      The goal isn’t to get one factory with min wage labor. That’s getting automated really quickly right now anyway (those jobs are going to zero due to a revolution in robotics underway). The goal is to get dozens of small companies, supported by a makerspace, building products (both artisinal or prototype/manufacturing) living and working locally.

      These guys will probably hire four or five people locally over the next couple of years. All at good incomes. They will also help a half dozen other local companies like their own to do the same. Is a dozen companies employing a couple of hundred highly skilled people making great incomes better than a factory run by some multinational paying the same number of people min wage?