(The views in the fiollowing article belong to the author and are not to be taken as wholly representative of the Lancaster and Morecambe Makers)
The Lancaster and Morecambe Makers are a group of local ‘technically minded’ and ‘craft-orientated’ people from Lancaster and Morecambe who wish to integrate their passion for open technology, collaboration and shared learning, within the wider community and educational environments.
There is already a local maker group based at Halton Mill called LuneLab (http://lunelab.org.uk/). This is a group that seeks to achieve many of the same aims, provide a local space to encourage making, crafting and collaboration. However there are important differences.
We are keen to focus on integrating the community and educational aspects of a Makerspace with the broader areas of companies, trade and industry. Our belief, and aim, is to foster an open environment for innovation, creation and commerce to broaden the community and create a sustainable environment that integrates business.
Makerspaces, and makers, broadly exist within the realm of Community Clubs, Membership Organisations; they are often not-for-profit organisations or community-led organisations. We intend to be managed as a not-for-profit to simplify the business focus of the organisation but that is where the similarity ends with the traditional club. We wish to have a stronger focus on the benefits of membership to small companies and sole traders. To show how using divergent technology, open technology and collaborative spaces can lead to innovation and generate new markets. We would also like to encourage interaction and collaboration with schools and colleges, other clubs and the wider community. There has been an increased focus from central government for the need to tie the relationships between these groups to achieve greater productivity and open opportunities.
Another distinction that can be made is that the LuneLab is not based within either Lancaster or Morecambe. LuneLab is run from Halton Mill, in Halton, near Lancaster and is part of the very noble sustainable ecology that exists around that area. We feel that a Lancaster ‘Space’ in a more central location, with on-site parking for trade and public users, nearby facilities and good transport links would help local trades and community groups more central to Lancaster. There is also the fact that the White Cross estate is a prominent business and technology park which complements our desire for industrial partnership.
LuneLab started mostly by the Lancaster CoHousing and Green Elephant organisations, as such part of its focus is on sustainability, alternative energy and recycling. These are admirable goals and again they are beliefs we share and encourage how ever we are attempting to foster only one ideology in the ‘Space’ which is a collaborative environment for open partnership.
Inside all of our serious, and somewhat formal, goals is the need to have fun and indulge in working with each other to build exciting projects and for sharing knowledge. An essential component in the success of Hackerspaces is the enthusiasm of the participants. We hope to encourage that enthusiasm; to increase links between what is notionally seen as hobbies/crafts and education; while at the same time provide opportunities for industry and commerce.
We have already spoken to the LuneLab and have identified that the Lancaster ‘Space’ will have a greater technological focus and the Halton ‘Space’ more geared towards crafts. However both ‘Spaces’ will offer a broad range of both and we want to work in partnership as well as with the broader communities. We are looking at ways of exploring and developing that partnership in 2015 and we will announce this as we work towards a cohesive plan.