To Make is Human. To Have Space is Divine.
The instinct to make things from readily available materials – with the tools at hand – is a creative force as old as mankind. Two decades into our highly digital 21st century, the maker instinct is alive and well, embodied by the flourishing of local maker spaces of all types and descriptions.
The Hudson River Valley and its neighboring regions count a score or more of these collaborative workspaces, which often have facilities located in libraries, schools, or suitable private/public commercial spaces.
The large variety and many types of local maker spaces that have emerged to date reflect the growing diversity and creativity of our region. Filling an urgent need for work studio and shared workspace for pre-commercial/industrial development, maker spaces with light fabrication and design capabilities are cropping up in towns, villages, and cities up and down the river.
Maker spaces can be ideal small business incubators for entrepreneurs, places where commercial ideas can be tested and perfected before market entry. Some maker spaces serve the craft community with mixed media craft studios. Drop-ins can access materials of all types and descriptions, including paint, stamps, mosaics, etc.
Columbia County, in particular, has proven to be powerful magnets for creative professionals of all stripes. So it is no surprise that one of the newest, state-of-the-art innovative work studio facilities just opened its doors in Hudson, in a repurposed elementary school that is attracting film and media makers with its state-qualified post-production facilities and equipment.
Maker space business models are as varied as their missions. Some charge by the hour, others are sustained by monthly membership fees. Maker spaces are often stand-alone community enterprises. But not always. Successful maker spaces become inextricably intertwined with the local and regional communities they serve.
Look no further than Troy, NY, and it’s Center of Gravity maker space to see and appreciate the synergy between a maker community and its neighbors. With close ties to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and supported by regional economic development entities Albany’s Center for Economic Growth, COG has earned a reputation as a world-center for digital game development, on a par with Silicon Valley’s best game centers.
Maker spaces are so varied and diverse that its hard to generalize about what constitutes a typical facility. The website Makerspaces.com offers this comprehensive description:
“A maker space is a collaborative workspace inside a school, library, or separate public/private facility for making, learning, exploring, and sharing that uses high tech to no tech tools. These spaces are open to kids, adults, and entrepreneurs and have a variety of maker equipment, including 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines, soldering irons, and even sewing machines. A maker space, however, doesn’t need to include all of these machines or even any of them to be considered a maker space. If you have cardboard, legos, and art supplies, you’re in business. At the core, they are all places for making, collaborating, learning, and sharing. Although these spaces have a lot in common, they are also different in a few ways.”
Read more about the maker movement and the differences between a hacker space and a maker space here.
The very best way to learn about maker spaces and the maker experience is to drop in or schedule a visit to an area nearby that interests you. Below are links to some Hudson River Valley locations that meet the criteria above, including spaces that have recently been in the local media spotlight.