If you fill it, they will come

The minds behind Juneau Makerspace, a self-described “community operated workshop” in the works, have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the shop. In less than a week, the group has raised nearly two-thirds of its $3,000 goal.

“It has been great,” said Sam Bornstein, president of the makerspace’s seven-person board of directors. “We did set that goal a bit low in hope to get some basic equipment, but we also hope to reach our more stretch goals to be able to offer more resources to the community.”

The makerspace, which is located in a warehouse in Lemon Creek, will serve as a space for people who want to build things but may not have a space of their own to work out of. The workshop will also have tools that most people don’t have access to if this Kickstarter campaign is successful, Bornstein said.

Until Bornstein launched the Kickstarter campaign, he and his fellow board members had only raised “a few hundred dollars.” Bornstein doesn’t think the workshop will be open for another one to two months, but right now it has only “small tools” —a soldering iron, a few hand-held drills, hammers and screw drivers. But this tool list is subject to change.

If the group meets its $3,000 goal by Dec. 24, the space will be able to buy a table saw and a drill machine. If it raises $1,000 more than its set goal, it will be able to buy a bandsaw, too. And if it raises a total of $5,000, it will be able to buy all of the aforementioned tools and a welding station.

“These are some of the most versatile pieces of equipment that can be used for the widest variety of projects,” he said.

So far, 20 people have contributed to the campaign. Bornstein also said his group will take donations in the form of tools or other equipment in good condition.

It’s still too early to tell how much dues for the workshop will be. Bornstein, along with his group’s Kickstarter page, said that the fee structure will function “like a gym membership,” meaning that members will be able to pay for monthly memberships and use the shop at their convenience.

In addition to its inherent workshop utility, the shop will also serve as a classroom of sorts where kids, perhaps in camps, will be able to learn about science, technology, engineering, arts and math — commonly lumped together under the acronym “STEAM.”

Bornstein’s hope to use the workshop as a educational space is not surprising given his makerspace background. It was during his time in college that he first became fascinated with the makerspace concept. He and a group of fellow engineering students at Washington University in St. Louis started a makerspace of their own. Though the physical space he had created in college wasn’t exportable, Bornstein realized that the idea behind it was. He decided to start a similar space here in Juneau when he returned after college a few years ago.

“When I came back from here, I thought there was a lot of potential for something like that here,” he said. This space will certainly be different than the one he created in school — there are more artists and fewer engineers, he has observed. But this is far from a bad thing.

“The last makerspace I started was a room in a basement in my college,” he said. “This is a whole different game, and I think it’s one that’s going to be very successful here.”

The groups Kickstarter campaign can be found at: tinyurl.com/JuneauMaker

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