April 26, 2014, 5:33 p.m.
Changemakers dinners at FutureShift Festival! http://www.futureshift.cc/

(Change)Makers in Birmingham

So yesterday was day one – even though the north-western caravan had actually been starting a day early to be able to join an (as it turns out, wait for it!) amazing festival taking place in Birmingham this week.
Rain was pouring down when we walk up, very much conforming to our expectations, and so it went all day. That didn't stop Noel, Laura and  Vlad to head to our first (outdoor) meeting of the day, with Bike North Birmingham, whose aim it is to put as much North-Birminghamers on a bike as possible, starting early: the event the caravan attented, called 'ditch the stabilizers' is designed to help kids lear to cycle on two wheels... I'll be quick on this and let you check Laura's and Vlad's blogs entrys on this.

Meet Fizzpop

Roos and myself had to stay in to take care of some computer-bound work, but would take our turn at getting wet in the afternoon to get to Fizzpop, a hack- and makerspace in central Birmingham, where we went along with Vlad. After we found our way through old, partly abandonned industrial (red-brick) buildings, we walked in there two find two men cracking up at a semi-fluid yellow paste spread on a garbage bin on a wooden case. But let's not spoil Vlad's upcoming video-diary there...

We all loved talking to two of Fizzbot's directors, who introduced Roos and I our very first 3D printer. They have been operational as a space since 2009, financed solely through membership and the director's pocket-money – they have to chip in to make rent in their current space, but shall move to a more affordable space shortly. They currently have lots of engineering devices, allowing wooden- and metal work, but are also home to a potter's wheel, and could see themselves investing in sewing machines, too...

Makers lust

We felt our hands buzzing with maker lust while there, and all stated we had seen ourselves and our friends re-investing in crafts over the years. The first european hack- and makerspaces florished in Germany, but you can now find one in many european cities. Even though each space is clearly locally bounded, there are efforts within the community to ensure a continuum of information online and presence offline: some makerspaces run transnational online databases allowing one to locate the nearest space available to them...

Maker spaces are a recent phenomenon, we discussed – what can we expect them to become or create in the next 10-20 years? What kind of change could they bring about if they keep spreading and welcoming more members? Gareth sees them as alternative education spaces. We realized they shifted the way we're supposed to go about 'hobbys' – in a makerspace, you can switch to the next thing as often as you like. You're not comitted to one thing as your speciality, as you're typically are if you signed up for, say,  pottery classes. You also don't have to wait until they start in septembre, and once you've got enough plates, you could move on to building the cupboard to store them...
And, I would add, they could do loads to hack gendered activities, granting easy access to  devices in spaces that have lesser traditionnal gender assignment than, say, a school engineering workshop or even grand-dad's atelier. So... count me in, makerspace in Berlin-Neukölln I haven't looked up yet! (Note:1st resolution of the trip).

Stay tuned!

But that wasn't it for the day: we then went on to #Futureshift Changemaker dinners, where we met up again with Gareth, but also with a couple young people we knew from the previous night, from a workshop put up by Futureshift, the Civic Faundry and Uprising dedicated to young changemakers – that's another story, and I'm already running late for Futureshift Day of Ideas - but here are previews!

Stay tuned, people!

More infos: @fzzpop


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