Norwich Hackspace is thrilled to announce that has now moved into its own premises in Lion House, Muspole Street Norwich, thanks to the support of developers Architekton.
Norwich Hackspace - what's it all about?
There is a group of people who want to see a non-profit community-led hackspace established in Norwich run along the lines of successful hackspaces in London, Nottingham, Bristol - that is following these general principles:
- To be a community of like-minded people interested in making things
- To have a self-funded, community-run, not-for-profit shared physical workspace.
- To have shared equipment, tools, materials, skills, experience and support.
- To run activities and sessions where people can learn new things
- To do things and projects that cannot be done as an individual
- To have fun
Some people love working out how things work, how to fix (and break) things and making things rather than buying them. These curious people normally have multiple projects they work on in their own time. A hackspace provides a physical workshop space where this can happen, a community of like-minded people who are willing to help others work on their projects and specialist equipment that individuals generally can’t afford on their own.
Where are we now?
Currently we are at a development stage. We have a set of core members who attend regular member sessionand we are
Norwich Hackspace works with Norfolk & Norwich Millennium Library to run a Young Makers Club run by two of our young members.
What are we doing next?
We need to attract members. This is not only to be able to start collecting vital funds for equipment and premises but to build the community as a whole. We need people’s opinions on what they want and how they would like it to be run. Longer term, we need a (home) physical space and some kit. A laser cutter and 3D printer will be high on the shopping list.
How will we do this?
Our plan at the moment is to first build a community of like-minded people through face-to-face meetups, project shares and workshops, and through an online group which can communicate and discuss ideas and projects.
We will invite people to become members by contributing to the group financially. We will set up some kind of governance system which we will discuss with the group as we go along.
Once we have a solid and committed group of members, we will start looking for premises. By this time, we will have developed relationships and will know how we want to run the group and a physical space. At the moment there is a core team of five people who are leading the development.
There are already many hack/makerspaces around the country who are willing to help and advise and we can learn from their experiences.
Management of a hackspace
To make a hackspace work well so that it is safe and pleasant to use as well as being able to accommodate a wide range of interests, it needs some management. From the experience of other hackspaces, it works best if the responsibility for management and maintenance is spread over its members.
We aim to create a community where individuals take responsibility for the hackspace as a whole and everyone is involved in improving the space. To make decision-making viable, we expect there to be a small team of trustees who will be entrusted to listen to the members and makes decisions accordingly.
There will be house rules which will be agreed by the members. We aim to keep them to a minimum to ensure the safe running and organisation of the hackspace whilst allowing maximum freedom.
How the money will work
A hackspace will have costs, rent, bills, taxes, purchasing equipment etc. Some organisations have gone down the road of getting grants and other cultural funding to pay these costs. The downside to this method is that the people supplying the money normally want some say in how that money is spent, and they will normally only fund short-term. This is normally unsustainable long term.
Very minimal costs to rent and run a cheap venue is around £10k a year. This could be covered by roughly 30 members paying £30 a month. This monthly subscription model allows the space to grow with the strength of its members.
We will also investigate the use of cheap or low-cost premises which are empty. Typically however, these spaces are insecure or short-term use. If we can fund our own rented space, we will have a more sustainable hackspace with less worry.
There are ideas about looking for sponsorship and grant funding for development but at the moment, we like the idea of being self-sufficient if we can as this has worked well in other Hackspaces.
Buying equipment through pledges
Pledges are similar to the way a kickstarter works. The monthly subs pay for the regular running costs of the hackspace but pledges pay for one-off equipment purchases. A member would create a pledge for a new bit of kit, say 3d printer costing £500 and once that target is reached (say 10 members might pledge £50) the printer would be bought and become owned by the hackspace for use by all members.
About hackspaces in general
In recent years, there has been a significant growth in community-run workspaces in the UK. They have various descriptions and names but all spring from the idea that people can do more if they share skills, equipment, knowledge and experience.
More and more people live in small or high-rise homes where they do not have access to a space to store equipment or ‘tinker’ with projects involving mess or space.
The development of tools such as 3D printers, CNC machines, routers and laser cutters has excited people’s curiosity about what they can make for themselves. Developments in programming, electronics and coding combined has offered new ways of making interesting things. And arguably, an increasing online and screen-based work life has given people the impetus to ‘get real’ in their out-of-work time, reflected in a rise of interest in baking, knitting, gardening, rearing livestock and getting back to some of the basic human instincts of making things for themselves.
A Norwich hackspace would be joining a community of hackspaces across the country. They are called hackspaces because a ‘hack’ is the re-use or re-purposing of something to enable it to be used again. For example, making a go-cart out of a pram is a classic hack. It is about mending, fixing, reusing, creating.
Hackspaces and Makerspaces are very similar. You could say a makerspace is somewhere that you make something from scratch from new or recycled materials. Often the terms are used interchangeably but we decided to plump for Hackspace. You also hear of FabLabs which are a franchise of Fabrication Laboratories/
To keep in touch with Norwich hackspace events, activities and developments, please join the MeetUp group Norwich Hackspace/Makerspace http://www.meetup.com/Norwich-Hack-Makerspace-Meetup/events/199787122/. There are over 80 members already.