Meeting December 18th @ 6:30pm!

Hello everyone!

I am happy to announce that we will be having a formal meeting on December 18th @ 6:30pm at the Brighton Public Library! This meeting is long overdue, and we have a lot to discuss. Whether you are currently involved or not doesn’t matter, because everyone is invited and encouraged to come.

We will be discussing our next steps and filling volunteer positions. If you want to get involved or are looking for something to do this would be a great meeting to attend. Are opening is imminent, and there’s a lot to do!

Hope to see you there.

Brighton Memorial Library 2300 Elmwood Ave. Rochester, NY 14618


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Status Update – December 2012

We’re not promising this, but it looks like we’ll be signing a lease and opening our makerspace in a few weeks. Many volunteers have helped get us to this point. But even so, we’re struggling to get some critical tasks done and the problem is about to get much worse.

We will soon have to quickly create the policies and procedures we’ll need to run our makerspace, organize and schedule classes, figure out where to put everything, build workbenches, tune-up tools and equipment, and much more.

Many of these things we’ll have to do only once. But we’re still going to have a continual need for more help than we’ve ever had and our makerspace will almost certainly fail if we don’t get it. I’ve been involved with many volunteer-run organizations and I’ve seen it happen.

What help do we need?

  • We need a treasurer and a secretary. These are officer positions. If you want to make a difference or have a strong say in how the makerspace is run, then volunteering for one of these two jobs will guarantee it.
  • Volunteers to manage and promote each major area of interest: woodworking, art, machining, welding, metal fabrication, kids programs, sewing, 3D printing, crafts, computers & electronics, and others. You’ll decide (hopeful with input from others), how to organize and run your work area, help choose equipment to buy or lease, safety and training procedures, and more. (BTW, we need to come up with a good title to give these volunteers.)
  • We’re going to need many work benches and tables. We’d like to build most of them ourselves from wood or welded steel because we think it will save us money and be a good opportunity for our members to learn new skills. And mostly importantly, because it will encourage teamwork and help us build a strong community. So we need volunteers to find good affordable designs and lead construction teams.
  • Volunteers to take charge of our marketing and fundraising efforts.
  • Volunteers to plan and promote our grand opening.
  • People with good writing skills who are willing to help create content for our web site, write training and safety materials, respond to letters and emails, apply for grants, be proofreaders, etc.
  • We need someone to start a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to buy a SawStop table saw for our woodworking shop, which will stop instantly if someone’s fingers touch the blade.
  • Leaders who can come up with group projects that will attract interest and help from both members and nonmembers. They can be anything, but we would like to have some that will use our talents and tools to benefit or enrich the Rochester community.
  • Finally, our greatest need is for people who are willing to try and do whatever needs to be done, even if they don’t know how to. Starting a business, or in our case a nonprofit, requires learning and doing a variety of things you’ve never done before.

In case I haven’t been clear enough, WE REALLY NEED MORE HELP RIGHT NOW! So please don’t hesitate to give me a call or send us an email if you willing to help in some way. And as always, we want to hear your input or suggestions about anything.

Some Other Makerspaces

For decades individuals have pooled their talents and financial resources to create community woodworking shops, darkrooms, art studios and other facilities so they could pursue activities they couldn’t afford on their own. What’s different about makerspaces is that they provide the tools, space and community needed to support many different activities and interests.

ADX – This makerspace in Portland, Oregon, describes itself as “dual parts workspace and incubator, our membership-based community unites multiple creative disciplines within a 10,000 square-foot facility that is accessible, collaborative & affordable.” ADX opened in May 2011 and they have more than 150 members.

Artisan’s Asylum – Located near Boston, Massachusetts, Artisan’s Asylum started out about 3 years ago in 1,000 square feet and then expanded to 31,000 square feet. One reason they’re so large is because they have more than 90 private work and storage areas, ranging from 50 to 250 square feet, that their members can rent. Their very well-equipped facility also offers a wide range of affordable classes.

Columbus Idea Foundry – This makerspace is located in Columbus, Ohio, and operates in a 25,000 square foot building that has 4,000 sq. ft. of classroom and gallery space, 10,000 sq. ft. of studio space and 11,000 sq. ft. of workshop space. Their mission is “to provide tool-access and tool-education to small businesses, creative artists, and YOU.”

Fayetteville Free Library’s Fab Lab – The first makerspace to be created inside a US public library is not far away, near Syracuse. It includes a 3D-printer, a laser cutter and computer workstations with sophisticated design programs.

TechShop – “A membership-based workshop that provides members with access to tools and equipment, instruction, and a community of creative and supportive people so they can build the things they have always wanted to make.” It was started in 2006 as a for-profit membership based workshop in Menlo Park, California. Since then they have expanded across the country and are now in six cities, with more locations planned.

The Crucible – This educational facility “fosters a collaboration of Arts, Industry and Community. Through training in the fine and industrial arts.” It was started in 1999 in a 6,000 square foot warehouse in Berkley, California. It has grown to 47,000 square feet and they are now probably the largest nonprofit industrial arts education facility in the United States.

A surprise, private work areas & what a membership will cost

A large group of us recently looked at the 2,800 square foot space at 850 St. Paul Street I recently told you about. I think everybody liked it. I thought we had an easy decision to make but then we got a big surprise.

The landlord knows I’ve been worried about quickly outgrowing the space so he offered to put us in an 18,000 square foot space and just charge us for the amount of space we actually use. His generous offer will allow us to grow as quickly as we can, without having to worry about starting out in a space that might be much too small, or too big and unaffordable.

Private Work Areas

The extra space means we’ll be able to support more tools, activities and members. But there’s another reason why we’ve been worried about having enough space. We want to have enough room to be able to offer our members private work and storage areas at a low cost and without a long commitment. (Don’t worry, there will also be plenty of free workspace.)

We want to do so because we think there’s a strong need for it and it will benefit many in the Rochester community. We’ve already received inquires from people asking if they can rent space inside our makerspace. And we know that other makerspaces have had a strong demand for similar space.

Artisan’s Aslyum is a good example. They have 90 private spaces ranging in size from 25 to 250 square feet that are fully rented and have a waiting list. The extra revenue from those spaces has made financially stable and it has helped pay for some very impressive tools and programs. So we want to find out if their model will also work here in Rochester.

Membership Cost

To rent a space you’ll need to be a member and we haven’t talked much about how much that will cost. We’re not sure yet, but a monthly membership will probably be $65 and we may offer a very substantial discount to those who are willing to take a chance on us and pay for a year’s membership in advance. We may not do it right away but we’ve also considering daily, student, and family memberships, along with scholarships.

Getting back to private work areas, the huge space we’ve been offered comes with many details that haven’t been worked out yet and maybe some problems. For example, it’s a great space but it’s nowhere near as bright and inviting as the smaller one. So we would really like to know how much interest there is in private work areas before we accept the landlord offer. And unfortunately, we can’t tell you a lot of details yet. Even basic information like how much it’s going to cost. Although, I can tell you that we will keep the cost as affordable as possible.

A Decision Will Be Made Soon

Although it may seem like it, renting space at 850 St. Paul is not a done deal. The building and spaces are great, it’s centrally located and easy to get to from 490, we really like the landlord, and the rent is extremely affordable. And the neighborhood is not bad, although it’s not a great one either.

But we learned at TEDxRochester about some other locations that need to be considered and a commercial real estate agent began helping us for free. So our already very overloaded group of volunteers is responsibly looking at other possibilities. But we are not going to keep looking indefinitely and we are probably going to choose a space to rent within the next couple of weeks. We’d really like to get your input before we do that. So there will probably be a meeting and you can always contact us or leave a comment.

Come see the space we may rent at 850 St. Paul Street

Sorry, I know this is short notice, but we want to invite everyone to join us at 5:15 PM tomorrow (Thursday, November 8th), at a space that we may rent. It’s 2,800 square feet in a huge old factory building that is being renovated at 850 St. Paul Street. It’s at the corner of Scrantom Street, about a half-mile north of the Genesee Brewery, and about a mile from the inner loop and easy access to Rt. 490 east and west.

If you come, please drive down Scrantom Street to the rear parking lot and meet us near the loading docks. Call 585.210.0075 if you have any problems finding the building or us.

The space is being completely renovated. It will be clean, bright and inviting. There will be new bathrooms just outside our door and the landlord has agreed to install a key card system for the main outside door and our space.

The building has a large parking lot and the entire property is surrounded by a fence with an electrically operated gate that is usually closed after 6 PM. You’ll be able to drive up to it in your car and enter an access code to open it or you can buy an inexpensive remote control for it.

We like this building because the rent is very affordable and it includes heat. There is also room in the building where can expand if we grow, and we expect to grow rapidly. We’ve also been offered reasonable terms that will allow us to break our lease if we need to.

This location and space is the best one we’ve been able to find so far in our price range. There is a high probability that we may rent it. So, now is the time to speak up if you have any objections or concerns.

On Monday, at TEDxRochester, we learned about other properties that may meet our needs. And some people even offered to help us find a space to rent. We’re going to follow up on those leads and take advantage of the help. But we’re not going to keep looking indefinitely. Our goal last May was to open a Makerspace by the end of the year and we’re going to try and keep to that time table.

TEDxRochester 2012

Our booth at the TEDxRochester event.

Yesterday the Rochester Makerspace converged at TEDx Rochester for an overwhelmingly successful event. I first need to thank the event organizers, Jennifer Indovina from TED for inviting us, and all of our new potential members who stopped by our booth. It was exciting to meet you all and I sincerely hope that we will be meeting again in the near future.

I also need to make special mention to our volunteers; Jon, Heather, Jason, and Chuck. Thank you for helping out, bringing your cool stuff along, making this fun, and appealing to newer members. An honorable mention also goes to our supporters who have helped us along the way, and to everyone who sent their images to be used in our display.

TED and TEDx Rochester are about, “Ideas Worth Spreading.” Organizers seek out speakers that have ideas, organizations, or missions that have a positive impact on their community or humanity as a whole. The TEDx Rochester differs from the big TED in that it is independently organized, and focuses on speakers who are doing those positive things right here in our own backyard.

All of the speakers we heard are trying to move this community forward with novel and reasonable approaches to problems that Rochester faces. Most if not all of the attendees also had interesting things that they were working on. The overall sense that I gained was that everyone in attendance believed that these methods were working, that change at the community level was certainly possible, and that many of these projects are already having a meaningful impact.

Jon, Rob, & Heather at our booth.

This led to a captive audience not only for the speakers, but for our booth as well. The Rochester Makerspace is trying to fulfill a need in and for our community with a fresh approach. Many of our visitors expressed their excitement for our mission, and showed an expressed desire for all of the benefits that the Makerspace will bring.

This awesome opportunity brought with it a wonderful and interesting group of supporters, who I personally look forward to working with as the Rochester Makerspace moves forward. We also made contact with people who have roots and influence in our community, that I suspect will be of great help in the coming months.

There is a lot of work to be done between now and when we get our doors open. I know however that with this momentum, there is little that we can’t handle. We are also actively searching for assistance and volunteers. If you are interested please reach out to [email protected], join our Google Group, or introduce yourself on our forums.

We will be looking at least one space this week and we encourage all to attend. Rob will be sending out more information on that later. Again many thanks to all those I have mentioned, and I sincerely hope there is no one I have missed. Thanks for making the TEDx Rochester event amazing, and I hope to see you all very soon.

We’ve been invited to TEDxRochester

We’ve been honored with an invitation to set up a display about the Rochester Makerspace at this year’s TEDxRochester, which will be held at the Geva Theater on Monday, November 5th.

You may have heard about TED which is about “Ideas worth spreading.” TEDxRochester is a local annual event that “showcases speakers from in and around Rochester, with ideas or missions that are worth sharing, spreading and growing; ideas that could or do impact Rochester and her citizens.” Tickets for it are so much in demand that to get one you have to fill out an application and hope they choose you.

We’re still new and almost no one in Rochester knows our name or what a makerspace is. This event is an enormous opportunity for us to change that. But to do so we’ll need to work hard to create the best display we can in just three weeks.

If you’re willing to help us then please sign up for our Google “Volunteer Discussion” group, which will make it easier for us communicate.

We’ve already started work and one of the things we need is information about our supporters, their interests and projects that we put into a photo essay / PowerPoint presentation.  So please send us a short introduction and photos or videos.

250 Cumberland St.

A look at the space from the bay windows.

Yesterday a few of us met at 250 Cumberland Street at the Old Post Office to look at the space Sean is currently using for his motorcycle business. It was great that more people turned up and showed an interest in renting this space. Because of that I would like to thank everyone who came out.

The space is roughly 3000 sq. ft. as it sits now. If we are to move in Sean will take roughly 400 sq. ft. for his business, partition it off, and we will take the rest. if we needed to we could also build an additional loft, which means we could double the square footage without adding to the rent. The rent is more than reasonable and the space in itself has a lot of opportunities as a starter space. The floor is geared for a workshop, there is a sprinkler system in place, and the building has freight elevators.

Our main concern is the lease terms, and as of right now we don’t have a clear idea of what they will be. We foresee a need for flexibility. Other successful Makerspaces have grown exponentially once they’ve opened their doors. Therefore we would prefer to not get locked anything too long term. The landlord for the building is Dennis Maguire, who also runs the Hungerford building. As we are unable to sublet the space from Sean the lease will have to be negotiated with Maguire. It is our hope that a six-month contract would be sufficient.

A look from the front of the space, towards the bay windows.

Yesterday everyone agreed that Cumberland Street would be more than sufficient as a starter makerspace. There is off and on street parking, but I could foresee spots in the off-street lot being in short supply during the week during business hours. There is also a loading dock, and even though the space itself is on the 2nd floor, the freight elevator is rated up to 8000 lbs. It is also pretty easy to get to. Rochester’s Inner Loop takes you right there.

Right now we are still hunting for a space. Spencer, and maybe myself, are planning on going to look at the 1,700 sq. ft. space in the Fedder Industrial Building on 1327 East Main Street. As discussed in the previous blog post the rent is cheap and the terms are month-to-month. However, some members have already spoken against renting the space, but I think it would be good form to keep an open-mind.

So let’s keep our eyes and ears open. If you know of a space that may work for us, please speak out about it. The same is true for any input, comments, or concerns on Cumberland Street or the Fedder Building. More involvement spurs more calculated decision making.

Our next informal meeting is this Thursday at the South Wedge Diner, located at 880 South Clinton Avenue We will be meeting at 6:30 for grub and conversation. Hope to see you there.

Thursday’s Meeting and 2 Spaces We Can Rent

Our next informal weekly meeting is going to be this Thursday, October 4th, at the McGregor’s in Penfield at 1129 Empire Blvd. We’re going to meet a little later this time, at 7 PM, and we’re going to have an important discussion about renting one of the two “starter” spaces we just found.

The first is at 250 Cumberland Street, in the old downtown post office. It is being rented by Sean, who restores and customizes motorcycles. He has much more room than he needs and we would be taking over all but about 400 of his 2,000 square foot workshop. In addition to the workspace, we would be able to use (with the proper training or experience) his Bridgeport mill, Rockwell industrial lathe, TIG welder and a foundry capable of pouring 20-pounds of aluminum. It’s a pleasant space with high ceilings and large windows at one end. The cost would be about $500/month plus utilities and insurance.

We would need to reach an agreement with Sean about sharing his space that we all can be happy with, and get the landlord’s OK.

I just learned about a second possibility last Friday. We haven’t had a chance to look at it yet, although I did talk about it with another tenant in the building. It’s 1,700 square feet in the Fedder Industrial Park at 1327 East Main Street, which is near the Hungerford Building and Village Gate. The rent is $540 per month which includes all the utilities. We would have a month-to-month lease which would allow us to quickly move to a larger location if we outgrow it.

There is a problem with it. The building’s outside doors are locked at 4:15 PM each day and the landlord doesn’t want to provide dozens of keys for our members. So we’ll probably only have about 4 keys to work with unless we can talk him into letting us install a keycard system or find another solution.

There was almost no interest or discussion when we suggested renting a space on Industrial Street a couple of months ago. We don’t know if it’s because many of you are unwilling to come downtown, if it’s because you want to leave the decision to just a few of us, or if we’ve badly misjudged the amount of interest and support we have. Quite frankly, we need to see a lot more discussion and support this time or we’re probably going to stop and reevaluate what we’re doing.

If you can’t make Thursday’s meeting then please leave a comment or join our volunteer’s email list. And by the way, we do want to know if you don’t like either location, think we should wait awhile or have other suggestions.

We’re going to need all the help we can get if we do rent one of them because we’re going to have to decide, in a very short time, how we’re going to organize and run our space. We’re also going to have to quickly create a membership agreement, a liability waiver, operating rules and bylaws. And we’ll need to build workbenches and walls, do some painting, and some other chores.

Now’s the time to speak up and pledge your support if want to see a makerspace open soon in Rochester. With your help and support we can open our doors this month.

And one thing. We’re stretched a bit thin right now. Would anyone be willing to get some insurance quotes for us? It can be done over the phone and it probably won’t take long.

Informal Meeting – Thursday 09/27 @ 6 PM

We’re going to have a very informal “burger” meeting this Thursday night at 6 PM.  It will be at Peppermints Family Restaurant, which is located at 4870 West Henrietta Rd.  It’s just south of McDonalds and not far from the Lehigh Station Road exit of Rt 390.

You’ll be able to meet some of the other members of our group and have your questions answered. We’d also like to get your ideas and input on a number of topics, especially about where we should locate our makerspace and how much space we need to get started.

We still have a lot to discuss, decide and do before we can open our doors.  So we’re going to another informal meeting on Thursday, October 4th.  We’re open to suggestions about where to have it and we’re also willing to change the time if 6 PM is not convenient for many of you.

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