Save Your Community. Unleash Local Creativity. Build a Makerspace.

Save Your Community.  Unleash Local Creativity.  Build a Makerspace.

I believe that every community needs a makerspace.

It’s a place that:

  • has lots of different tools for making things.  
  • helps and teaches you to make things.  
  • has other people that are making things too (from mentorship to collaboration).

Despite the obvious benefits, most communities don’t have a makerspace.


They still believe, wrongly, that the ONLY way for their kids to become prosperous is through an academic education.

That’s clearly not the case.  The world is changing.

An academic education, while useful on a personal level, is becoming very hard to justify economically.  The government, corporate, and institutional bureaucracies that traditionally employed them are shrinking even though the number of graduates are growing.  

To hedge our bets on academic education (bets that are increasingly unlikely to pay out for graduates), build a makerspace in your community.  It’s the place where people can:

  • tinker.  Nearly every technology breakthrough starts with a tinkerer — from airplanes to electricity to PCs.
  • improve.  Things get fixed.  New tools are built.  Art gets made.  Local life improves.
  • prosper.  Some of the things built locally are valuable enough to sell globally, starting local business.

Want to see a great example of a makerspace you can use as a template?

Here’s the Mt. Elliot makerspace in Detroit.   Here’s a link to a video on the space.

video makerspace

Here’s what they do in their own words.

Note the juxtaposition of learning and entrepreneurial opportunities, a recipe for creating local prosperity.


Based on the needs and passions of of the Southeast Detroit community, the Mt Elliott Makerspace concentrates on learning experiences and entrepreneurial opportunities related to:

  • Transportation – Things that help us get around. Human-powered and alternative-energy-powered vehicles designed to enhance mobility, safety, and enjoyability.
  • Ex. bicycles and bicycle trailers, alternative energy vehicles
  • Electronics – Tools and systems that involve electricity and electronics in their operation.
  • Ex. consumer electronics repair, programming microcontrollers, alternative energy systems
  • Digital Tools – Tools & systems utilizing digital technology that we use to communication, share knowledge, and express ourselves.
  • Ex. computers, wireless networks, audio/video production, social networking, programming
  • Wearables – Things that we wear.
  • Ex. screenprinted recycled clothing, cnc embroidery, accessories, wearable electronics
  • Design & Fabrication – Design & fabrication of almost anything utilizing various tools, materials, and methods.
  • Ex. sketching & drawing, digital design & fabrication using CAD & CNC prototyping, furniture building using recycled materials
  • Food – Growing, preparing, and understanding the things that we eat.
  • Ex. growing community gardens, cooking, canning, nutrition
  • Music & Arts – Creating, exhibiting and performing music & art.
  • Ex. painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, acoustic & electronic music composition


Look.  Building a makerspace is a much better way to change things than voting, protesting, and complaining.

Resilience is the most REVOLUTIONARY thing you could ever do.  It has the potential to change everything, from the ground up.

Let’s get moving.

Sincerely Yours,



colorado john

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  • Kim

    Hi John,

    One of you most recent videos was a guy advertising the 27 most important foods to buy before a disaster strikes. Atmthemendmofmthe video he says to tap the orange buttons below, but there were none to tap, so I couldn’t make the purchase.

    Worl you be able to contact him about the site/instructions?

    Thank you

    Kim Adams

  • Fabio

    Thank you for the very interesting post. This led me to discover a series of exciting makes spaces — most of them in the US — that have slightly broader visions than most so-called FabLabs / hacker spaces and the like. The idea of building a community-centred maker space that goes beyond the classic world of digital fabrication & (mostly young, white) tech start-ups (as the ones described by Chris Anderson) and that is based on the dissemination of practical knowledge in general as a way to augment people’s autonomy/resilience, and which in this sense acts as a ‘vector’ to build community, is something that absolutely fascinates me. For example: LOL – Liberating Ourselves Locally – “a people-of-color-led, gender-balanced maker space in East Oakland”. Now that is something we can build upon!

    @John: how do you see the relation between digital fabrication tools and traditional practical knowledge / know-how develop in the future? Shouldn’t traditional making techniques (here I see it in a very broad sense, from farming to cooking to wood-working) be documented & disseminated (protected) with as much energy as is put in the spreading of digital fabrication tools & spaces nowadays? But then, why? Is it just nostalgia? I think not. There is this amazing series of shorts I just discovered about people who do things by hand in NY:

    Last: do you know of any examples of initiatives that intend to benefit a certain community as a whole (like such a maker space) that got crowd-funded locally, by the very same members of a given community that will benefit in first person from such an initiative?

    Great blog!

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