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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.

Volunteer Opportunities – September 2012

  • We’re getting close to renting a space so we really need to find a treasurer. PLEASE contact us if you are interested or know someone who might be.
  • There are numerous services (Amazon, Eventbrite, PayPal, Amazon, WePay and others) that make it easy to collect online donations. We need someone to research them and choose one for us. We also need someone with WordPress or web experience to put a donation button on our web site. There are numerous WordPress plugins to chose from.
  • We need someone to find and install better software for our Wiki. WikiMedia is widely used but it’s very difficult to learn and use because it doesn’t have a WYSIWYG editor. And the WordPress plug-in we’re using now is buggy and it’s not being actively supported by its developer. There are WYSIWYG plugins available for MediaWiki and there are many other free Wiki programs we can chose from. We need someone to pick a good one and set it up and test it for us.

Keep checking if you don’t see something here that you want to help with. We’ll be regularly updating this post.

A Tour of ADX Portland

ADX Portland’s “Factory” Floor. All photos courtesy of ADX Portland.

ADX is a for-profit maker space located in Portland OR that describes itself as “Equal parts workspace and incubator, our membership-based community unites multiple creative disciplines within a 10,000 square-foot facility that is accessible, collaborative & affordable.”  They opened in May 2011 and have about 150 members working in a 10,000 square-foot building. We have been closely studying them because they are one of the world’s best run and most successful maker spaces.  All photos courtesy of ADX Portland.

 

ADX Portland’s lobby includes a counter top they made from a log

 

Woodworking Shop

 

Welding and Metal Fabrication Area

Continue reading A Tour of ADX Portland

Update – August 2012

I know there’s a lot of questions on where we stand right now in launching our Maker Space. Here’s the update:

Our biggest obstacle right now is publicity. We’re only about 3-½ months old and almost no one knows our name or what a maker space is, but that could change very quickly. College students will be returning to our area soon and we’ll be putting up posters on the various campus’ to generate interest. We’re also trying to come up with other inexpensive and effective ways to publicize ourselves. If you have any ideas then please email or call me.

We were recently mentioned in the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper and two other local publications have shown interest in doing stories on us. We’re also steadily getting new subscribers to our email announcement list. There is definitely growing interest and excitement about what we are and what we are planning so we want to be ready to quickly rent a space when we think we have enough prospective members to move forward. So we’ve found a lawyer we like who can quickly form our non-profit corporation and we’ve talked with a CPA and an insurance agency.

We’re also looking at real estate and talking to landlords. We found a space at 17 Industrial Street in Rochester’s up and coming Cascade District that we want to discuss renting temporarily at at our next meeting on September 5th @ 6:30 PM at The Flying Squirrel. If there is strong interest in it from prospective members then we could have our maker space open by October. And if there isn’t then we will at least have a better idea of what we should be looking for. Your input is important and I look forward to hearing your thoughts at the meeting on September 5th.

All great organizations need a great business plan and we are working on ours. One of our problems is that we don’t know how much permanent space we will need. The majority of successful maker spaces (and hackerspaces too) almost always go through huge growth spurts, which requires moving to bigger locations. So we’re trying to come up with realistic cost estimates for running three different size maker spaces: 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 square feet of space. Some costs are not easy to estimate (like utilities) so if you, or someone you know, has had experience renting commercial real estate and would be willing to be a mentor, we could certainly use the help.

We’re are also looking at ways to raise startup funds. We have someone willing to help pay the rent for a short time, but we’re going to need a lot more money than that to open our doors and equip our space. So we’re going to try creating a “Founder’s Club.” The first 100 people to donate $100 would get the right to call themselves a Founding Member of the Rochester Maker Space and get their name engraved on a large plaque that will be permanently displayed in our space. Additionally, Founding Members will receive a certificate or perhaps an additional memento to express our appreciation. We are also going to try using KickStarter or other crowd funding sources and we will actively seek donations from businesses, organizations and professionals. Again, please share your thoughts and ideas with us through email or at the upcoming meeting.

As always, we greatly appreciate any help or support you can give us, any suggestions you may have to the topics discussed here, or any additional thoughts that may help us in launching the maker space. If you have any questions always feel free to contact us via the contact page on our website or post a message in our forum.

I look forward to seeing you at the Flying Squirrel at 6:30pm on September 5th.

Thanks!
Rob

Let’s Talk About Renting at 17 Industrial Street

The space we’re considering is currently being used as a storage and work space. You’ll find another photo below showing a empty finished space that is almost identical to the one we’re interested in.

Wyatt and I looked at a 1700 square foot space located in an old factory at 17 Industrial Street that is being completely renovated. The price is very reasonable, we like the landlord and he seems very willing to work with us. We’ve also been looking at other locations and we’re going to continue to look at more. But we think we need, as a group, to seriously consider renting this space.

If there is strong support for it we’ll move forward and see if we can come to an agreement that will allow us to move into it in October. And if there isn’t, then we’ll at least have a better idea of what we need to look for.

This would be just a temporary space. We would not have room to do all the things we would like to. We also wouldn’t have extra space to rent out to members who want a private work area or storage. But we’ll still have lots of room and tools to work with, like the 3D printer we just ordered. We’ll also have a place to have classes and other activities. And maybe most importantly, it will give us instant credibility by proving that we’re not just talking about starting a maker space in Rochester.

The building is in Rochester’s Cascade District and it’s easy to get to. It’s only a couple of minutes from RT 490 no matter what direction you’re coming from. It’s in a neighborhood filled with offices and loft apartments. There is limited off-street parking but on street parking probably won’t be a problem, especially after 4 PM weekdays and on weekends.

The entirely building is being completely renovated. Our space would be on the second floor, reachable by both stairs and an elevator. It’s wide open with a hardwood floor, brick walls and lots of large new windows. There are plenty of electrical outlets, the bathrooms are new, and heating, air conditioning and electric is included. The landlord also seems to be willing to consider providing free rubbish pickup. So our only addition expenses might be just Internet and insurance.

Our next formal meeting is going to be in early September. But many of us have often been meeting for breakfast on Saturday mornings to informally discuss things. I’d like to do that again in the next week or two to discuss this space. Meeting somewhere on a weeknight is also possible if it’s convenient for more people.

I’d also like to set up another meeting with the landlord before then so others can see it before we talk about it.

If you’re interested in seeing it or meeting about it then please leave a comment below or let us know via our contact form.

Continue reading Let’s Talk About Renting at 17 Industrial Street

A Quick Look Inside Artisan’s Asylum (Video)

Artisan’s Asylum is located near Boston and it’s probably one of the world’s biggest and most successful maker spaces. They started out in about 4,000 or 5,000 square feet and then expanded several times. They currently have 31,000 square feet and I’ve heard they’re considering expanding to 40,000 or more. I don’t think this video shows just how big they are because the bicycle rider goes pretty fast and doesn’t turn his or her head much.

In addition to providing access to well-equipped workshops (woodworking, welding, machining, bike repair, electronics) they also rent various size spaces for storage or private work areas. That’s what the cubicles are for.

We’re also planning on renting affordable private work space and I’m very curious about why they didn’t make their cubicle walls higher and enclose them a little more. Wall space is very valuable in a workshop because you can hang tools or shelves on them. Walls can also help contain noise and dust.

 

The First Public Library to Create a Maker Space is Nearby

A Makerbot Replicator (TM) similar to the Fayetteville Library’s 3D printer

According to this Forbes article, the Fayetteville Free Library is the first in the United States to create a maker space within a public library. If Fayetteville sounds familiar it might be because it’s near Syracuse and not that far from Rochester. The library calls their maker space “Fab Lab” and it features a MakerBot Thing-O-Matic 3D printer.

The lab was Lauren Smedley’s idea. She wrote a graduate school paper about it that the library’s executive director liked it so much she hired Ms. Smedley to make it happen.

Public libraries are looking for ways to evolve and the FFL is not the only one that has added a maker space. We wrote not long ago about the Westport Connecticut Library. They held a “maker fair” last April that was so successful they also decided to create a maker space inside their library.

We’ve been quietly discussing buying a 3D printer right now and using it in library meeting rooms until we can rent our own space. Now I’m wondering if we should try and formally partner with some of our community’s libraries.

The libraries could learn, without cost, if access to 3D printers or other tools is something their patrons would like. And if it is something they can provide, like the computers and computer classes they provide now. Our maker space would get valuable publicity and places to regularly use our 3D printer and hold classes about it.

Anyone interested in going to Fayetteville soon on a Saturday to learn more about their “Fab Lab” and MakerBot 3D printer?

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