I’m so happy to report that the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire that so many of us have been working day and night to pull off – has turned out to be a great success, filled with robots, knitting, projection mapping, and beyond. I’m so grateful to have been a part of such a lively bunch as the Vancouver Hack Space – but that’s just really the beginning.
It’s really difficult to know exactly how to thank and properly recognize everyone that was involved. The idea started at a Super Happy Hacker House – where Joe said “Wouldn’t it be cool if …” – and Colin said, “hey I’ve got this domain” … and then later when I found a grant that I thought would be cool to have some sort of robot parade. Dallas was the one to convince me — “Let’s do a Maker Faire!” I’d been following the movement for years now so I decided I would do what it would take to make it happen. So we did. Luckily the grant that I applied for walked me through the steps of how to do this sort of festival – and the city was very supportive of our endeavor. So, it’s pretty cool that we live in a city cool enough to allow for this sort of thing to take place.
Here are some exerpts from the grant that I wrote up last September:
There are a growing number of creative Maker spaces and cultural centers operating throughout the city of Vancouver, but they tend to be confined to rented studios, basements and garages, and are often physically isolated from the rest of the community. The main goal of Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is to unite these communities and celebrate Maker culture that is already thriving amongst these small groups in the city. All projects reflect Vancouverites’ ingenuity and creativity, and can help shape future projects amongst individuals, groups, and community arts groups. This convergence will create new opportunities, will encourage cross pollination of ideas and skills, and will broadcast the strength of Vancouver’s DIY community to an audience worldwide.
The intention for this year’s Vancouver Mini Maker Faire is to plant a seed that can grow from year to year. It will provide Makers the opportunity to exhibit their work in their own community instead of having to travel to gain an audience recognition. Our city needs to reap the benefits and share the knowledge of our local communities. Featured projects that will spark dialogue include 3D printers that can print themselves, pedal-powered technology, sustainably made crafts, and creative applications of new hardware and software programs. This Mini Maker Faire is an important showcase of the inventions that will shape our future.
And a bit about Why VHS could pull this event off:
The strength of the organization lies with its members. VHS is a co-operative organization, in which all members maintain a sense of ownership in how the community runs. Therefore, all members are equally instrumental in how effectively the space operates, and the kinds of events that are hosted. VHS is based on the philosophy that it is a “Do-Ocracy”, which means that if any member sees something that they feel needs to get done, or an opportunity to contribute to the space in any way, that person should go ahead and do it, as long as no one else has any serious objections. This idea has nurtured a group of members that accept ownership of the organization, and members therefore take efforts to ensure that things are running smoothly and safely.
I’d been hosting a bunch of craft nights at VHS and was really getting in to the whole community-working-together-to learn how to do things – idea. I saw Maker Faire as a way to take it to the next level, and bring even more people together to show of their cool stuff – and hopefully learn a thing or two from their neighbours in the process. I really connected to the whole idea of community. After Dallas and I did some outreach to other organizations like the Vancouver Design Nerds and the Vancouver Robotics Club, I was amazed by how many groups and pockets were operating throughout the city. I really, truly felt that these people needed to connect. In a wild festival-potluck-type event, where the main course was creativity and the sharing of ideas, projects, and space. We got a green light from the people at O’Reilly, so it was a go.
After I sent out a few smoke signals on the internet, I had a few people email me and say, “THIS HAS TO HAPPEN!” (with that much enthusiasm) … so, I took that as a sign that I should move forward and take a bit of a leap.
The first email in my inbox was from an enthusiastic Kim Werker. We had chatted a few times through some sort of internet channel and she said that she would do whatever it would take to help make it happen. The opening lines of her email read something like, “I’ll do anything to help make this happen. When it comes to something that I think is this important, I tend not to be picky.” Wow. With people like that, how could you not move forward and keep going?
And then there was eatART. Wow, was I ever impressed with their ingenuity on all scales – not just the obvious – metal work and fabrication, but right down to all of the skillful and energetic volunteers who really helped us out and supported the whole process. They introduced us to the Great Northern Way Campus – where their workshop was located – and to me, it was a no-brainer that that would be where the festival would be located.
And that’s really just the beginning. I was absolutely astounded by how many submissions we received on our call for makers. And every project unique, and most that I had absolutely no idea that they were going on in our city. We had nearly 100 submissions from an extremely wide range of talented individuals. It was so cool to see how the process took off. And not only that. Throughout the process of working with all of these lovely people, I was shocked to hear just how hard all of them worked! I saw it in all of their faces. New projects that just came together a few weeks before the festival started, and new partnerships were being formed. It’s amazing to think just how much change can happen from just picking a date, locking down a facility, and then having about a million meetings introducing new people to the concept. And I’m not saying that any of that was easy. Because it wasn’t. All of us took an astounding amount of personal investment in the whole thing, and seeing it all unfold was really magical. I’ve never experienced exponential growth like this, and I’m just so glad that it was linked to something like creativity, and resulted in getting people’s wheels turning.
Every effort helped, and every meeting made me feel more and more like it was really happening. I can’t describe how odd it was to hear the words that I had written about in that grant – reflected back to me by people experiencing the festival. Wow. I am just so extremely grateful that it happened – and fell in to place the way that it did. It really, truly took an entire community to make it happen – and I was grateful to be in the position of stitching those ideas, groups and projects together.
(OK, was that cheesy, or what?)
So … now what? After about a week or so of sleeping, I feel like I’m getting my energy back. I think it’s time to start figuring out what this whole thing meant to me, and how I can continue working at this level, and supporting this wonderful creative community in some way, shape or form. Oh. and not forget to get back in to what got me in to this craziness in the first place: back to making things!!!!
I really, truly hope that this experience was just as enjoyable (or more!) as it was for me. I’d love to hear more about your experience, good, bad, and ugly. Feel free to reply to this post or send me an email at vancouver(at)makerfaire.ca.
Thanks again to everyone: Vincent, Ifny, Jenny, Sabrina, Kate, Lena, Jenn, Christine, Claire, Luke, Leigh, my mom (who came out for the event!) and so many others that helped make this happen. Thank you thank you! It was such a wonderful experience!