The US is not a leader of makers

Last week, we posted a new video about the Warsaw, Poland maker community not being able to find a space.

Poland isn’t alone in failing to recognize and support makers. Check out this story below of a few folks complaining about a makerspace and the city running them off. This was a space that only added value to the city and should have received money and space and support from all levels of government.

The US currently has an idea that makerspaces are for kids, and should be located in schools and libraries. I actually wrote my master’s thesis on iPads in classrooms, and I can see a recurring pattern here. Politicians approve of a vague idea of kids learning to code and make robots, so they create programs awarding money to schools and libraries. Schools receive that money and if they are lucky, the point person there will find a local makerspace or ask around online on how to build a maker program in the school. Who is teaching the teachers about makers?

There’s no greater vision for makers in this country, and that’s a shame. Makers are a strong and active community, and they are renting spaces privately, gathering donations, paying high insurance rates, and making it work. They struggle and sometimes close due to a total lack of support from the government. They also probably don’t do a good job of reaching lower income people, minorities, women – how can they be expected to serve a community that doesn’t want or support them?

Hammerspace

Kansas City failed their citizens by running Hammerspace out like a shady group of ne’er do wells. Let’s not gang up on them, Minneapolis, Seattle, most cities are at best indifferent and unsupportive of their local makers. So are state and federal governments.

One exception is the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Another was the Obama Nation of Makers movement. These examples serve to show how patchwork the system is right now and how urgent the need is to commit money and resources to makers, ASAP.

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