Lawrence Creates is still a relatively new makerspace so they lack a lot of the things that I had been hoping to find in a makerspace. They are about to get their wood shop up and going and so that will be a big plus. I think that Lawrence Creates' greatest weakness and greatest strength come from the same thing and that is that they are non-profit.
Lets start with being non-profit as a strength. There is a great attitude that comes a long with being an organization that is designed to just meet the needs of the community. There is no CEO to come down on anybody. New members feel like they have a share in what is going on. The donations and grants that are available to non-profits are pretty substantial as well. Being non-profit also keeps the overhead really low so the grants and donations are reaching their maximum benefit since all of the money is being funneled back into the space. Another benefit of this is that membership fees are really low since there is not a payroll to fund. A lot of makerspaces are nonprofit so this can work.
The major drawback that I see about non-profit is the drive to really succeed. Granted I have only met these people once so this is not a criticism of them since I dont know them really well. Just from visiting the KC makerspace and thinking things through I can see this problem. In a for-profit makerspace somebody is putting their livelihood on the line. This sink or swim atmosphere will cause constant evaluation of what is keeping people from walking in the door and signing up. Somebody will always be making sure the right tools exist and that they are shown off so that people can connect their ideas with the tools that provide the solution. I can see this in my own side projects. If there is no real threat to me if I dont get a project done then I am more likely to put off that project if I dont have time for it. That is probably why this is my 8th start at blogging.
This is what I noticed at the space. It has a lot of potential and there are a lot of people putting time into it. Yet there is no one who can do it full time and so as people get busy with life the progress at the makerspace will slow.
Lawrence Creates shouldn't count me out though. While I want to be honest about my first impressions I am also willing to help be the solution even though I too will be short on time.
Here are my goals:
- Develop a class that I can teach. The space provides advertising and a place to do it and 25% goes to the makerspace. I want to be able to make 50% of what it takes to buy a 3D printer. I will match my own efforts with the other 50%.
- Get the CNC router working and a first class citizen. This might even correspond to my class.
- Figure out a way to get a laser cutter. I heard rumors about
That's it! If anybody from Lawrence Creates is reading this sound off in the comments and let me know what you think. If you work with micro controllers lets meet up and start something.