The Age of Makers

We recently had a photographer visit our Makerspace to take some pictures. You know, marketing type stuff, to show off our space, showcase some of our member projects, to post, publicize, etc. Nothing fancy, just some pics of members and volunteers doing the thing that makers do; make stuff.

Looking at the photo roll a few days later I was disappointed to see how old we all were; for the most part, just a bunch of old guys tinkering with old machines. Most of our equipment is older, donated pieces and many of our volunteers are in various stages of pre- or post-retirement. We looked like what we were. To be fair, we did have an African-American woman in the mix (shout out to FB!) and a couple of our younger members were there as well, but most of the pictures were of the over 50 crowd putzing around with old machines (putzing is an old makers term).

Here we were trying to attract “Makers” - those youthful, 20-30 something, innovative, creative, entrepreneurial movers and shakers that are shaping the economy of tomorrow - with photos of last generation’s ‘Men in Beige’

Sorting through the pictures though, I did come to realize that this is just our particular slice of the maker movement. Sure, the term ‘Maker’ and the Maker Movement is typically associated with a more youthful generation. The STEM & STEAM curriculum in schools, the emphasis on integrating science & technology in the creation of art, the availability of new manufacturing techniques, and the entrepreneurial business models of the Internet are all contributing to this idea that ‘Making’ is a new phenomena. Its wrong though and it doesn’t do justice to the history of Making; a history that is at the core of our countries evolution.

We are a country founded on making. Our frontier history is one of fierce independence and DIY; the popularity of Sears & mail-order kits; planes, trains & automobiles, hot-rods, & NASCAR. We are engineers, mechanics, jack-of-all-trades, handymen & women, and inventors. When I think of what was being Made when I was 20-30ish it is the foundations of this new Maker economy that come to mind; cell phones, the Internet, Personal Computers. We are Makers and have been for a good long time.

And we like to pass on what we learned. We teach. Come join us old guys in the shop and we’ll teach you a thing or two about making. By Golly.