I recently got to attend a town hall style meeting with local hacker/makers in the Grand Rapids area at GRiD70. The meeting was organized by Dale Dougherty. For those of you who do not know him, he is the man responsible for starting Make magazine and the Maker Faire events around the country.
The meeting started with an around the room introduction of everyone. We found out that we had quite a diverse group of people there. Everyone from electronic enthusiasts and iPhone application developers to people who like to cook and make things with fabric. We even had a self-proclaimed “serial” inventor Eric Baculy that brought a Ring Fling game he invented. Published Make Magazine inventor Matthew Gryczan was there taking pictures and helping inspire people to attend and make something for this years Detroit Maker Faire. You can also check out Matthew’s Gyro car project here.
After the “formal” part of the meeting was over (and ignoring the tornado sirens) most of the group migrated over to the Founders Brewery to continue networking and getting to know each other. Eric had mentioned that it was great to get people out and try to inspire them to start making things. He even mentioned how the lost art of fun and simple things like paper footballs and cootie catchers should be explored with younger people. So what does a group of makers to do at a local pub (aside from having a few beers)? Well make our own cootie catcher of course! Ruth Terry, a local freelance writer, started folding paper. Although, forgetting exactly how it was made, a few of us were able to figure it out. We all then took a turn writing inside in a unique way. The numbers included several languages and even the number 7 written in binary (my contribution :) ). It was quite a diverse cootie catcher.
Although making a cootie catcher isn’t a typical pass time at a pub it is the creative and quirky thinking that creates great things. We all were able to meet new people and make connections in our area. I was sure glad I went and hope to get involved with more gatherings like this. I have to give a big thanks to Dale Dougherty and O’Reilly Media Inc. for everything they are doing to inspire people to get out and make.
Maker Faire, for those who may not know, is a festival of people who like to make things. It is a great place to take anything you like to make, from electronics, art, robotics, knitting, faberge’ eggs etc. If you make it you can take it! Don’t have something to display? No problem come out and check out everyone’s great projects and get inspired to make something yourself. Last year Detroit’s Maker Faire attendance is estimated over 18,000 people and attendances have been well over double that in the San Mateo California Maker Faire. I encourage you to check it out and get involved. Or just build something in your own backyard. Need an idea? How about a 18 foot tall statue of Red Green breathing fire? “Why” you ask? Because you can! How about and electric cup cake car? “Why” you ask? Because no one said you couldn’t! How about a Twinkie car that shoots Twinkies? “Why” you ask? Because it is fun! Turn off the TV and start making something!