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 Post subject: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Tue Dec 28, 2010 11:04 pm 
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Several folks have asked about lease/expansion updates so here goes. As part of this discussion of our expansion is a commercial lease negotiation its not appropriate to certain aspects of that here. We do not have a lease in hand yet, so this is still very tentative. Certain parts of this are not negotiable.

When last I spoke to our landlord, the intention was to start the transition on jan 1. For several reasons the general notion of space planning has shifted a bit. The current plan is that the 1/3 of the cage nearest the dock will be enclosed, and we'll take over the rest of the cage area. We will still have to provide pallet access to that enclosed area. Metal will stay +/- where it is, and wood will move into our portion of the cage area. The dock area (with some wood in it now) will need to be clear to the wall (it's always supposed to have been so)

My personal thought is that the current wood wall becomes 3' of storage and 5' of walkway, (metal can expand to this line) and the current storage area and remainder of wood become large project space, say for someone building a boat or sculpture, or holding an event.

It looks like we will need to pay to get an electrical sub panel moved into our space, and new power drops, although it sounds like we have a sparky willing to do that for materials cost.

As we are still finalizing a lease, significant discussion on details and requirements is not appropriate here. Sorting out planning for how were going to use the current wood/cnc/storage area is just fine.


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:31 am 
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I vote that we convert the current wood space to be an actual hackerspace -- a social area with work tables, couches, lamps, easy chairs, etc. We desperately need that -- the insistence on cramming the social space into the classroom hasn't been a big success IMO. It feels to me that everything that makes a hackerspace a hackerspace is in the classroom, while the bulk of the space gets relatively little use. Like the HF is a TechShop where people pay fifty bucks a month to rent tools. That's not what I signed up for.

The basement should be used for storage, period. The current cage area should be the workshop with wood and metal, walled off to keep the dust and noise inside. The current wood area should be the social area.

Inspiration:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jabella/4452525234/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/nekojoe/4361594312/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kizel/4935773721/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulav/5003521870/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/minusworld/5261200188/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/opacity/4028416708/

The tools, in my opinion, should take a back seat to community.

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///////// John B


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 1:18 pm 
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the metal shop needs to stay where it is.

i don't disagree that we need more social space, and our mission statement is a "...community to make share and learn" although to follow through with non-profit status we probably need to focus on the educational aspects of that.

i do disagree that the tools are secondary. the tools are what is bringing most of the members into the space, and expanding our community. the more functional the workshop is, and the better the tools we have in it, the more new bodies we're seeing. a few folks do just come and hang out, but i'm only aware of a handful of folks (who aren't new, or non-members) who show up on wednesday and aren't talking about what folks are doing WITH the tools, and/or watching something be tinkered with. if you look at the # of bodies we have on EVERY wednesday now compared to every other wed when we were meeting in common root's back room, it's more than doubled for non-meeting nights. folks then still brought projects to share, but barely worked on them in a social setting, they were more often brought along to be knitting sorts of hand busiers during meetings.

to be fair, most of the pictures you show could easily be out classroom as it currently sits. we as a community have opted against personal workstations as tmp/lab seems to have, but we could modify that, and per our lease, we can *not* have a bed/crash space is it's illegal in mn to sleep in a commercial zoned building. a siesta after lunch can probably be gotten away with, but sleeping overnight can get us evicted.

with dust collection mostly working, and wood in the cage it'll mean less dust in the central area, but if you ponder how much dust is on the chairs in the mostly closed classroom, any furniture in that area will be filthy.

the basement is impractical for storage as it's not convenient to the shop, and we can't get large items up and down. either as a community or workshop (ideally both) we are not a warehouse, and should only be storing things we use frequently, and you want that sort of thing where you can get it. the basement is ideal for a hang out area IF we can get more light and power there. it's quiet from shop noise, and dust free. even if we do eventually get things like a serger or vinyl cutter and put them down there to be dust free, they're quiet, and would take up wall space rather than the entire room.

i really think adding cctv around the shop will be huge. a camera pointing at wood, one at metal, one down the long shop, one at the front of the classroom, and one downstairs, stick up a few of the CRTs we've got stockpiled, and i can look up, see that dave has just arrived while i'm in the basement, and he can see that we're down there chatting. maybe a PTT intercom so he can holler down to see if we want him to bring us chips.


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 2:22 pm 
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Quote:
the tools are what is bringing most of the members into the space, and expanding our community. the more functional the workshop is, and the better the tools we have in it, the more new bodies we're seeing.


What is the net gain of members in the past year? I know we were at 3 dozen as of January. Convince me that the way we've configured the HF has benefitted us in terms of recruitment. From what I've seen, our numbers have held fairly steady. That means that for every new member, there is someone quitting because they're not getting their fifty bucks' worth.

If we really wanted to bump our rolls we'd diversify our offerings -- and that doesn't mean catering nearly exclusively to the wood and metal shops. For instance, what's up with the completely disproportionate male-female ratio? I've been doing a lot of research on hackerspaces, and the HF's ratio is pretty terrible. I mention this not as criticism but to point out that the way we have the shop set up is clearly not meeting every potential member's needs.

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///////// John B


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 3:36 pm 
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i don't have specific membership #'s however we have trended up over the year, and more members are using the shop on a regular basis. in feb i could pop by and rarely see anyone, often someone just potting in to see what was there, but not stay. the last 2 months *every* time i've been in the space someone else has been there working. after the new year we can get some door log usage ideas of how much folks are in the space. we had a HUGE drop over the summer, and the members who've dropped over the course of the year that i've spoken to have dropped 1/2 because of lack of time to work on projects in general, and 1/2 because we did not have the tools they wanted/needed. your interpertation that they're not getting their 50$ worth relies on the assumption that we're not selling what they want, but for many of them, they don't see the utility in spending on access they can't use.

i'm unclear on what you mean by diversify our offerings and then mentioning the m/f member ratio, and frankly find that conjunction offensive. we are not a dating service, and i fail to see how having a higher % of women in the space would make any difference than if we had more hispanics or gays. knowing you, i'm sure you didn't mean it in such a manner, and would like some explanation.

i think we *should* diversify our tool offerings and have been pushing for folks to do things like sewing and vinyl cutting, and circuit board and print plate etching, however you need to look at other resources available in our area. we have nationally significant print making, textile, and book binding centers to name a few. we're not going to out do them at their own game, but we can offer collaboration across mediums that they may have a harder time doing.

we've seen that anchor tools don't bring in buckets of new members although as a group folks are excited to be able to work on and experiment with multiple tools they're not familiar with, so the more we can offer, the better. should we offer more and more diverse classes? yes, but again we need people willing and able to teach those courses, as well as the equipment to do so.

members have driven the tools that are in the workshop by donating or loaning tools that they want to use. folks who are actually using the space have shaped what it's become. as more folks use one area it grows as someone discovers it's be great if they only had xyz, so they figure out a way to get one.

if you want to see more women or more lounge space, start a women's night, or find a space (really the basement is screaming to be a hang out cave) to put in a few couches and folks who want to hang out on them. during non open house hours i've only ever seen 2 people hang out in the classroom 1 of whom was taking a break from working on a project, where as i've seen over a dozen working on things at the saws, metal area or electronics bench.

we're not a rentable prototyping lab, or a private work collaborative, we're a community workshop. every hacker/makerspace is different based on what that community's members want to do and need out of that community. in many ways the crucible is as much a hacker/makerspace as the bike co-ops are and even the community area for stitchnbitch sessions at yarn shops.


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:12 pm 
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I also think the basement really really wants to be a social space. I think someone needs to get behind the idea and make it happen.

Heck, I'll wear that hat if anyone else doesn't mind. I have a bunch of ideas floating around in my head as to what would make it a comfy inviting spot for all of us. I might need help with a vehicle that can transport furniture and matierials, if someone would be willing.

I know I've been one of the people who's been playing a lot with wood. Partly, that's due to all the wood we got in; I feel better about learning how to work on and with a material when there's a surplus of it. I also want to get into a lot of different kinds of metal working.

That having been said, if we had sewing machines, Especially heavy duty stuff that would sew leather, canvas, denim, tent material, kayak skin material, balloon material, etc, I would be sewing a LOT. I have a lot of projects I'd like to do that would use that kind of gear.

If we had a loom, I'd be weaving. I plan on making one. If we had a spinning wheel, I'd want to use it. If we had a working laser cutter, I have plans for that.

I have to cut this short, as I"m at work, but I"ll be in tonight.

I think the space could be a lot more, and could cater to a lot more interests. I like what's there, but I want more. If we get really clever about how stuff is set up, and think about how to use the vast amount of Vertical space we have, we have room for lots of making.

peace!

Riley

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Riley Harrison
facebook.com/rileyharrison


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 4:52 pm 
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My point is that there are things women are interested in that they're obviously not getting -- otherwise more would be members. Why would I want there to be female members? Because they bring different interests and perspectives and skills, and this would strengthen our group. Also, it'd be an easy way to double our membership, right?

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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 5:22 pm 
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what i think you're trying to say is that we should look at amenities we can offer that service groups we're not currently serving. what you're coming across as is we should offer daycare and cookie baking classes.

were we inhospitable, disrespectful, or exclusionary towards women, yes, changing those things might double our potential member pool, however i've yet to see anything indicating any female has been made to feel not welcomed with the exception of our very very creepy bathroom. i don't think we've at any point sought to exclude women, and i believe throughout our history we've always had at least one female member.

while it's changing, hobby geekery and "shop" hobbies participants still skew very heavily to males. that change is *awesome* but there just isn't gender parity in terms of interest for a variety of historical, social, and personal choice reasons. i would love to see a more diverse crowd in our shop, but folks need a reason to come. maybe a spinners night, we've a few folks interested in that. if anyone knows a local women's engineers club we could offer to host their meetings....

i think the problem is less we don't have enough women/punks/stained glass folks, and more we don't have all of the gear we want to bring in a more diverse crowd yet.


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:43 pm 
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Heck I will toss in my 2 cents worth, mainly because I have brought up the subject before.

Jwb and Metis are both taking to the same conclusion, just taking different tact's to get there. JWB would like people here now, and let the reason they are here come along after the people.... Metis is seeing the gear brining in people, and the more utility they have, the more folks we will draw.

Both have good and bad points, figure them out yourself. I take yet a third tact and say that the reason we have so few (insert your demographic here) is lack of promotion, lack of hang out space appeal, and a bit of apathy on our members. Walk into the classroom tonight, look around... what you will see is parts, leftover project bits, coffee and beer containers, and a mess.

Regardless of your demographic, this space as it is now, is not set up to host a group that wants to talk about subjects other than those we have left out.

We have no way for a group of twenty to see the makerbot print a thingverse file, the one seat that faces the other seats is a couch that last time I was there had somebodies project taking up half of it. The Trash and counter in the classroom are often cluttered, the bathroom would make some Horror Film depictions pale.

The space is a workshop, yes I know that, but with no full time cleaning staff, two days after we had our last Cleanup Day, the office had fallen back to what it was, the classroom was disheveled and within a week, nobody even knew that a clean up day had happened. Now alot of people worked hard to clean the space last time, and as a result I was not going to ask them to do it again.

Now for promotion, I have seen the last 9 Pumping station one video's, the Quad City guys (much smaller group) out produce us on blog posts, and until recently our own blog mentioned that we had a zip line race 4 weeks ago, but did not ever mention the results.

If you want people to show up, you have to give them a reason, and Classes / Demonstrations are part of it, having a space they would want to walk into a second time is another. Each of us is an Ambassador for TCMaker, like it or not, you are. You need to talk to your friends, co-workers, the guy at the Ax Man, whomever and mention the space, our group and that they should stop down. Carry the business card, or a brochure around and give them to people.

I used to hit craigslist for stuff for the space, and each posting I included a link to the group, and if I met somebody I told them about us and that they should stop down.

We need to promote ourselves, and to do that right we something that appeals to people who stop buy.

That is my take on it, and while I have given up on the quarterly clean up, I do try to follow the post that metis has elsewhere, and each project has time alloted for clean up, and days like today where I have no real project, I will spend some time cleaning up something while there. And I will try to promote the group to people when I can.


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 Post subject: Re: lease update/space planning
PostPosted: Wed Dec 29, 2010 10:57 pm 
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well said booka.

my point was not that the tools drive the space per se, but that the space has taken it's direction from what people have done in it. early on most of our members were electronics guys, but none of them wanted an electronics workshop, they all wanted wood/metal tools to build cases and bits for their electronics projects. there is no lounge right now because no one has wanted one enough to proverbially man up and MAKE it themselves.

we've offered a home to folks who want to share their projects, and that's brought in tools that folks need for the sorts of projects they are building. as those tools have shown up, other folks have expanded upon that idea and gone in different directions. as a community though we can't just make huge random changes solo as it doesn't respect other members. if most of us agree that the basement would be a good lounge, and folks want a lounge, by gum, make it so.

if we want to move in a particular direction, we need to offer some anchors in that direction, be it HMMM for circuit bending, or welding courses to bring in new metal working folks, or a spinning symposium for nalbinders. those need a person to lead them, and generate excitement and a sub-community around them.

we don't have a sewing area yet because no one's made one. once we have a rudimentary one, more sewing folk will show up and improve it, but that said, simply putting a nice sewing machine and serger in the basement isn't starting a community of sewing, it's unboxing tools. likewise, folks hang out in the remarkably un-hangout friendly classroom because it's got chairs, tables, and light. you can't walk around, or put your feet up, and it's filthy. jwb and oak seem to be getting fed up with that and wanting more lounginess, let's see it happen, but if they decide the metal area is the perfect lounge space, we've cut off 1/3 of our current members for their plush mohair bean bag couches.

i view our job as a board of directors as in no small part to guide the direction the members want to take the group in a sustainable growth direction, and deal with the management details in order to allow the members to be supported in the community without worrying about the background noise.

we're working on getting power issues resolved, (and other issues most folks will probably never notice) but until folks started saying hey, we need more electrons to shove in things, it wasn't as high a priority. for several reasons it's a VERY high priority now, but we still need to find the cash to do it.


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