As MAKE Santa Fe engages its series of pop-up events engineered to determine the most important features and qualities in a makerspace that will be accessible and impactful for the broadest and most diverse range of Santa Feans, we’re mindful of how best to collaborate with our peers in New Mexico who are also creating similar spaces or who have been pioneering the maker movement in our state. How best can we complement their programs and ideas and the opportunities they create for their constituencies and how best might we find a way to work together for the greater good of all of our communities?

Some other makerspace efforts in New Mexico include:

FUSE at the STEMulus Center

QueLab in Albuquerque

The Toolbox in Taos

Parachute Factory in Las Vegas

Please let us know of organizations that should be added.

At the very least these spaces and others should be able to form a loose coalition that can make sure that we are complementary rather than competitive. A few ideas:

Reciprocal membership would be one excellent benefit to offer, especially if the spaces worked together around some large tool purchases. If a large CNC plasma cutter were in Las Vegas and a 5 axis milling machine were in Santa Fe, it’s possible that the usage needs of individual members would be modest enough that a reciprocal membership would work well and give members of both makerspaces access to expensive, specialized tools without bearing the cost of both tools.

Opportunity for workshop instructors would be magnified. One important aspect of a makerspace is offering educational opportunities to members and the larger community. This has the added benefit of creating economic opportunity for skilled craftspeople who can earn some income from teaching others. If we create a network of  maker “campuses,” then the opportunities for those offering courses and those seeking knowledge both become much more expansive.

Pursuing funding from large philanthropies, state and federal government may be easier as a coalition. New Mexico is a sparsely populated state and we all want to offer affordable access to as many constituents as possible. Our combined reach is greater than our individual impact. Assuming complementary organizational structures, perhaps it’s conceivable to work together toward shared funding opportunities.

A larger showcase of makers would be beneficial. We all know how much talent is aggregated in our ragtag but innovative state. Together we can build profiles and create opportunities for traditional and cutting edge makers by creating a showcase of people, projects and possibility.

Hopefully others will chime in with additional ideas. Maybe it’s feasible to create something like a union of independent makers who would share ideas about the baseline value of certain types of projects, standards for hiring and contracting and participate in shared healthcare and retirement planning–tools which are too often unavailable to independent workers. What do you think?