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 Post subject: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:17 pm 
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Wow, that was not how I expected to spend a big chunk of my Saturday.

So Theo was going to talk to Steve J. of Studio Bricolage on Sat AM about what sorts of things they're interested in, and pitfalls they've seen as far as a space since he (Theo) is taking the time to do some space research for us, and figured it made sense to learn from them and see where we overlapped in interest, so that in case we do join forces, we haven't wasted time. and I tagged along curious about space hangups.

Several hours later we'd been chased out of their computer lab by a class, and covered a LOT of varied concerns, and learned a LOT. First a summary, then (second post) a fuller explanation.

In Brief:
In order to *get* and *use* a space, there are a few key questions we need to figure out. To do that, we probably need to form a few exploratory committees to look at programmatic intent, site selection, organizational structure, and fiscal models.

1) program: what do we want in the space? what sorts of equipment, what sorts of spaces, public facade/entry, etc.
2) site selection: what real estate is available? locale, culling and evaluating different options.
3) organizational structure: how do we formally organize? co-op? NFP? sub-board under Leonardo's Basement? how do we manage ourselves?
4) finance: how do we afford this, and structure our dues/fees?

From talking to Steve, it seems reasonable that both groups contribute a few members towards these four joint committees to feel each other out, and help each other find an apt plan for each of our groups to move forward together, in tandem or separately, with each committee reporting to each group (SB and TCM) their discussions.

(theo and metis in tandem wrangled these words)


Last edited by Theo on Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
added a link, some formatting, and fixed a typo


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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:20 pm 
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At Length:
The plan Saturday morning was to meet for an hour or less to get feedback on issues they'd had in finding a space, so that we could avoid the same pitfalls, and discussions on that became quite varied on a lot of elements that touched on everything from how we can manage a shop to commercial utility costs, to membership and incorporation models, and it became abundantly apparent that this was not as simple as finding a cool locale and getting 20 of us to kick in $40 or $60 a month toward it.

We, as a group, are still getting organized, although from the meetings it seems that we're all generally in the same direction of a ouroboros of community supporting a workshop supporting a community, and any way we go about it we're going to have to get some directions set up for how we can best make this happen. From those of use who've met with and discussed a collaboration with SB at various times, Theo and I feel safe in saying that while there are some issues, both of our groups are seeking a nearly identical goal, and for the most part are excited to work together. These are exploratory committees we're proposing, NOT that their findings would be the final result, just getting some waypoints set for us to aim for, and approved as a general membership. These would not be permanent just to get our structures, possibly joint structure worked out.

    Program -- If we're going to have a space, we're going to need a plan of what we want IN the space: gear, workbays, lounges, and the like. A lot of that can be sorted without having a specific space in mind, i.e. we probably want an electronics project room where there won't be a lot of sawdust or power tool noise, and a separate loud shop, and a lounge of some kind. That programmatic need will in part drive location, but since we mostly want a big shop space, what we're going to do IN it once we find one is important to look at so when we find one we like, we're not spending time paying rent on an empty space while we ponder what to do with it.

    Site -- Where do we want the space to be? What sort of space do we want? What's actually available, and for how much? Steve pointed out that they've run into a LOT of issues in their current space with low ceilings (something that Theo and I hadn't seen as an issue with the Northrup King Building's 10' ceilings, which we'd considered ideal in many ways) generally speaking probably 2000-4000 sq ft, with a loading dock, higher ceilings, good transit and parking accessibility, and ideally some outdoor space, and good public visibility. Wading through real estate listings and looking at them is a lot of work.

    Organizing -- How are we going to manage ourselves and exist legally? Do a few folks put their names on the lease, and others pay them? Do we organize as a new NFP corp or for-profit corp? Do we roll under the Leonardo's Basement umbrella (the NFP parent to SB) and become an entity under them(think parent corporation)? If so, how do we retain our identity? How does the accounting work? How is the shop organized? Is there a manager for each of several departments, who do they report to, or is there a committee for each zone.... etc.

    Finance -- What can we afford, and how can we afford it? At this stage, looking at the poll and talking to Steve about SB interest, it seems reasonable to imagine we can get about fifty bodies kicking in about $50 a month (extremely rough estimate) in short order, but what sorts of things like bank account fees and compensating members for gifts either in labor or physical gifts do we need to be cognizant of? Also, will we be running a store, with branded merchandise & consignment items created by group members in the shop?

Each one of these is a BIG discussion, and several things cross between committees, i.e. Program and Fiscal need some general parameters before Site can really get serious, and Organizational will take cues from Program and Finance. A lot of sifting through ideas and concepts can be done in small groups, provided that they follow the intent of the group. We already have brainstorming threads for each of these topics (although they're scattered) and that can provide a feedback mechanism, in addition to reports to business meetings of discussions for approval of direction that the committees feel are the most productive, or amendment by the general membership.

SO: Please ponder if there's a committee you'd like to be on, or if there are specific issues you think they should be concerned with, or if there's another committee that we need to suss a topic out, or if there's a reason for or against researching these ideas with SB vs independent (or if this whole thread is a bad or brilliant idea). We can discuss here in the forum, and at the meeting Wednesday.

(theo and metis in tandem wrangled these words)


Last edited by Theo on Sun Apr 05, 2009 12:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.
mention of consignment store & minor touch-ups


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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:36 pm 
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Thanks for the investigation, there are a lot of good things to speak of here.

I understand that the space will dictate what type of things go on, but I personally am looking at it in such a way that we really have no idea what we want in a space. I believe it is more important to get a space and start to develop it. From what I have seen from other community groups is that the space is important, and you will need to make compromises.

I think we need to figure out some simple issues first like size are we going large or small footprint, how important is it that we have a easy access space close to public transit, and most important we need to start raising money so we can actually rent when it comes around to it.

In my honest opinion if all we had was the back room of Common Root with full access that would be a great start, we would see that place evolve and foster a community.


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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 3:02 pm 
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i probably wasn't as clear as i could have been on a few things.

the intent wasn't to figure out *exactly* what we're going to have, or how we're going to structure certain elements, but to look at what we want in general terms, and see how we can move in those directions, and what limitations we're going to run into, and to more fully feel out our dynamic with SB to determine if we really can work with them.

the idea is to spin off some sub committees from our business meetings to hash out some of those big discussion points that we've been having on the forums, but to move towards a consensus, but also to see IF we really do intersect with them.

of course once we find a space we like we'll have to actually sit down in it and figure out what we're going to do with it, and from that determine exact policies, and fee structures, but even in the 2000$ a month range of rent there's a SLEW of properties to consider, and picking on w/o further thought as to what we're going ot do in it (generally speaking) will probably leave us in a less than ideal location.

if we find a space, and take it, and have no notion of what sorts of things we want to do as a entity and individuals, we may as well take the NKB space once we get 33 folks kicking in 40$ for a security deposit, and then 40$ a month. having that, then we'll have to sort out who gets keys, what hours are.... so a month or more and we've got a home, but not a shop.... and no idea of how we want to start to organize it, and while w're meeting there we're burning cash and time. i for one don't want a clubhouse, i want a shop. then if SB or the computer folks do want to partner with us, and us them, that could easily double our membership, making the space we got too small, and out plans for it moot, and i'm not sure any of is would be keen to move a shop that we've set up.


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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 3:25 pm 
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so.
i just got out of a meeting with the nice folks at FreeGeek twin cities.
they are very interested in possibly joining forces to be under the same roof, and allowing some decent osmosis between our two groups. i spoke mostly on my own behalf, but i mentioned to them the option for us operating under the leos basement umbrella.
freegeek seems to have a "proven" business model (referring to the Portland and Chicago ones) of self sustainability after their initial ramp up time. Amanda and her crew are currently sourcing grants for the initial startup costs, then the idea is that the business model should take care of itself.
i think they mentioned the one in Chicago has someone as fulltime staff just to man the station and is totally self sustaining. (after a single startup grant)

either way, i doubt i do them much justice - so i convinced a couple of them to show up wednesday night to toss in more collabo ideas.


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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:01 pm 
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Nicholas Lee wrote:
i just got out of a meeting with the nice folks at FreeGeek twin cities. ...
either way, i doubt i do them much justice - so i convinced a couple of them to show up wednesday night to toss in more collabo ideas.
Cool!
This is Amanda's group ("mndonx" on this board), right?
LINK: Twin Cities Open Circuit

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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:59 pm 
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Thanks guys for all this work!

I would be willing to serve on one or more committees as needed.

Another thought: Does anyone in our group have expert knowledge on what is needed for HVAC, pressured air, and air filtering systems for workshop spaces? I don't know anything about it, but it would be a plus if a space already had any of those systems in place.

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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:49 pm 
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I've been painfully frazzled trying to prepare for this intro to electronics class, so I haven't had much time to consider this, but I want to echo what Paul said about getting a space.

While I know a lot of us want to see a massive shop with all kinds of great tools, I think we all need to be realistic about this. At the outset, and for months to come, we are going to be essentially paying for a clubhouse, unless someone has several thousand bucks they're sitting on to commit to the project.

For instance, a Bridgeport-type vertical milling machine can be had for around $2k or so. If our rent is $1500 a month and our overhead is, say, another $250, and we have 50 members each paying $40 a month, it'll be 8 months before we can afford to buy one, let alone the bits and such that are needed to make use of it. Even a good table saw would require saving for a couple of months.

What I'm getting at is this: some of you already have more tools in your garage/basement/shed/whatever than any putative workspace we put together is likely to have within the first year of operation.

I'll also mention that Noisebridge has 70 people and 1200 square feet and they are just barely outgrowing their space. Sometimes there's a conflict, but by and large, they are doing all right.

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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:49 pm 
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uptownmaker wrote:
While I know a lot of us want to see a massive shop with all kinds of great tools, I think we all need to be realistic about this. At the outset, and for months to come, we are going to be essentially paying for a clubhouse, unless someone has several thousand bucks they're sitting on to commit to the project.
But somebody does, actually. Or, more accurately, several somebodies.

uptownmaker wrote:
I'll also mention that Noisebridge has 70 people and 1200 square feet and they are just barely outgrowing their space. Sometimes there's a conflict, but by and large, they are doing all right.
Noisebridge has been pretty tightly focused on small electronic projects, though. They haven't had much need of shop air, forge, table saw, lathe, in-progress storage, paint/fume hood, etc. And even so, Noisebridge says "Within the first 24 hours of renting a space, we raised over $10,000 for a cool location and meaningful projects. Within our first month, we've nearly become cash flow positive from membership dues alone."

There's (lots) more to say about workshop space on Wednesday, but it's bigger than just us. I'm not talking about anything so grand as TechShop's scale, but something more than just a few tables, spare tools & a bunch of bins is absolutely within reach. We could do this even if it was just us, as TC Maker, going it alone. And, well, we aren't.

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 Post subject: Re: Saturday, Studio Bricolage, direction, getting rolling
PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:17 pm 
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I am unaware of anybody that has raised their had for donating money, has that changed?


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