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50+ Maker Spaces

Shared resource spaces for elders to learn or use existing maker skills and generate supplemental income from selling what they make.

Photo of Kim Upright
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Who is your idea designed for and how does it support the dreams and obligations of those 50 and older?

The idea is designed for people thinking of pursuing craftsman type hobbies when they near retirement, such as woodworking, and who will be downsizing their living space and need access to a workshop. They need to be able to share tools and other resources to make their hobby a viable interest. This would give them the opportunity to sell their products or art to supplement their savings long into their retirement. There is also a huge opportunity for social engagement with the community.

People near retirement age often think about what they want to be involved with in the future as their focus shifts from the “work” they have been doing for decades to the dreams they have of pursuing more creative endeavors. Some have had the opportunity to experience hobbies such as woodworking or other craftsman type arts and some may even had a garage workshop for this purpose.  Many still just dream of this and as they downsize their living space they could use access to a shared facility with all the tools and training. Maker Spaces are popping up in cities all over the world as the DIY tenet continues to gain traction. The Spaces are becoming education centers and social gathering places and project collaboration is common. There are financial rewards for those who follow through with selling the goods and art they produce. Maker Spaces are usually non-profit and run by the members. This allows the overhead, assets and other resources to be shared and make the operation viable for the membership. Another huge benefit is when the members engage and share their experience with the rest of the community.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Start a local meetup to see how many people would like to become members. Strategize on the viability of creating a Membership group.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I would like some feedback on if anyone see a need for this type of Space in their community.

Tell us about your work experience:

I have a design background and have worked with web technology for the past 20 years. I currently run an agency that is involved in Digital Transformation for small business. We are experimenting with integrating more Design Thinking methodology into our practice.

Please check all that apply:

  • I'm currently a member of a credit union

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone?

It is a shared workshop space geared to older people, with access to a wide range of tools. It allows them to make things that they might not otherwise be easily able to on their own. Teaching and learning fabrication skills in collaboration with experts and novices is a key benefit as is an opportunity to create supplemental income from selling what is created.

How might your idea be transferable to a large number of people?

Makerspaces are not a new idea however if the benefits of membership were geared toward older people there is obviously a growing cohort. Regarding scale -as the membership increased, workshop space and opportunity could also scale. Once the model was proven successful it could be adopted in other locations.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

The first step is to fully articulated the "idea" so that members of the community could be polled to see if this was a concept that they were prepared to "sign-up for" and be committed to support.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

The first step would be to align all resources to open a prototype space and build support for its growth.

36 comments

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Photo of Huw morgan
Team

Hello Kim, Honestly, great idea, I study wouldnt know what I would do without a work shop, thankfully I have access to one at my uni, I think it's a great idea to make a group for it. Would you make it so that anyone can come in and do anything or would you run classes aswell, letting people teach other people, sharing information and knowledge?

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Hi Huw -sorry for the late response

Making it inclusive makes all kinds of sense but the idea would be to have "Elders" running the place. People with experience and those that could act as mentors to both other "left-the-workforce" types as well as the younger generations

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Photo of Anndrea
Team

Kim, cool idea. I wonder, to move it forward in the financial sense, if the shop could be the backend of a store front. That would allow for the makers to actually have a place to sell their product as well as assist with the overhead cost of the space they are using. Selling your work on your own is another beast and a learned skill which can cost a tremendous amount of money ie. setting up a tent at an arts event etc. I wonder if having one across the board cost by merging making and selling spaces would serve everyone better.

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Great feedback Anndrea! The idea of a pop up shop could mean more targeted selling because different 'makers' might have very different target audiences for their products.

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Photo of Anndrea
Team

Exactly. I think too, it would assist in telling the story of the 'makers' space. Which would cut the cost of the marketing needed to get people to become 'makers' originally. Telling the story through a store front would also bring in substantially more revenue. People like to spend on places that have a good story and a motive they can connect to. One top of that the people making could also be receiving income via working as a store salesperson or manger etc. Kim, what a great idea.

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Hi Anndrea
Sorry for the late response. I have been focused on my business projects so I could not give this project as much attention as I wanted to.

Indeed my original vision was to have a Store Front" for members to sell their wares in addition to teaching them how to use online opportunities such as Etsy, Kickstarter and the list goes on. The success of a storefront is also very dependent on the location of the Maker Space itself. Most Maker Spaces are in light industrial urban areas where the real estate can be found and work-shops of this nature are regulated to operate. High foot traffic retail frontage would be optimum - some Maker Spaces have that.

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Photo of Andrea Zelenak
Team

Hi Kim!

Sorry I couldn't comment on the call a minute ago but I have some thoughts.

I recently graduated and had this amazing woodshop at my school (with a metal shop and lazer cutter - all the works). When I graduated, I found a nearby city (small: 30,000ish people) who have a community center and classes they offer. The most basic class they offer in order to use the woodshop is a stool making class. The idea is that you get certified after using each of the tools when making your step stool.

The shop was pretty small. We had two instructors, six people taking the class. It was $30 for the class for non-residents. I'm in my 20's but the others were all 50+. Honestly, the oldest woman was the best at it, never taking a class in her life. Classes could get people to buy in once they got confident in their making abilities. All of these people then signed up for the next class, pen turning, using the lathe and things like that.

1st class: 3 Hours - Bandsaw, Circle/Drop Saw, Table Saw
2nd class: 3 hours - Drill Press, Sander, Table Router (round edges), Staple gun, and we stained it
Pen turning class- Probably just a drill and the lathe

This was a really small room. It was probably 10x10 for the equipment then 10x10 for the "classroom" and work tables. The only other thing in there was a kiln for a pottery class which used the same place. This was all inside the community center where they have a small gym and basketball courts. They've done about 15 classes and all have been full within that day because so many people want to do it. It's really cool.

Hopefully this helps or I can answer a lot more questions if you have any!

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Hi Andrea

Great stuff. I think offering multi-part classes with a usable product as an outcome is a fantastic way to build interest and participation. I would be super helpful if you could interview some of those older people and get an idea of what attracted them to participate in the first place including if they spread the word. I am working on polling members of my own community [and age group 50+] to gauge interest

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Andrea Zelenak 

Quick question - why do you think the older lady was really good in the class? Could it be because she comes from a generation that mends things instead of buys new things? The reason I ask is because my parents (60s and 70s) are so much more adept at practical things than me. They say it is because they had to mend and repair things when they were younger so they are used to using tools and learnt the basics by trial and error. Are they the norm?

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Photo of Andrea Zelenak
Team

Wow, that could be it. My grandma is definitely in a maker generation, and I think my grandpa passed it down to my dad too...and because my Dads a maker, I'm a maker haha. I think that is the norm of how you grew up. In my generation, we just google or look up youtube videos now when something is broken.

It could also be because she was just having fun doing it, she seemed pretty relaxed around these scary machines.

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Photo of Isabel Parker
Team

Hi Kim!
Great idea, a lovely way to bring the community together. Have you thought about how you will advertise this opportunity? Their are lots of elderly that are on their own, feeling alone, have you thought of a way to reach those people? They may not have family and may not leave the house regularly.
Hope this gives you something to think about, if it hasn't been mentioned already.

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Kim,

I hope you are having a good start to the year.

How are things progressing? What would be the 'user journey' for your idea and any idea on what step you could prototype and get feedback on?

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Hi Kate
I am working on a User Journey and Prototype ideas at this time. Thanks for checking in

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

A Great Idea currently implemented at a US Makerspace - Bringing Elders and Youth together for inter-generational collaboration.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/power-intergenerational-collaboration-mark-bowlus?trk=prof-post

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi Kim.
Here is a great project from a previous challenge which might spark ideas and inspirations for your Idea as it is about maker spaces. The idea was to bring youth together with Veterans as youth mentors, in maker spaces oriented towards tech, with the goal being skill acquisition that could lead to Vets being able to get jobs. They collaborated with Tech Shop. http://www.techshop.ws

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/youth-mentor/ideas/techshop-is-gives-free-memberships-to-veterans-for-a-whole-year-and-350-worth-of-classes-why-not-twist-what-exists-take-advantage-of-this-promotion-and-make-a-system-for-pairing-up-young-makers-with-these-older-veterans

Here is a second update they posted.
https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/youth-mentor/impact/project-sidekick-is-all-grown-up-introducing-vett

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Photo of Guy De Koninck
Team

There was an article in USAToday on 20 December about Five doable strategies for financial success in 2017. One is about linking goals to your senses: " Visual people may want to create a map, Auditory people can talk things through, Kinesthetic folks may sculpt the things they would do in retirement. "I thought of your idea when reading this. While introducing people to new techniques, the maker space can also help them focus on their financial goals by creating them into images, sounds, sculptures.

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Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Welcome to the Refinement phase Kim! We've added new Refinement questions to your original submission that we'd love for you to answer. Please check out the Refinement Phase Toolkit for instructions on how to answer the new questions and other recommendations we encourage all idea teams to consider in the upcoming weeks.

Refinement Phase Toolkit: http://ideo.pn/2du9sf7

Lastly, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 12/21" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Kim!

I look forward to seeing how this idea develops in the refinement phase.

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Thanks Kate - and thanks for all your great input

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Kim!

Have you seen this article on Makerspaces in the US - http://makezine.com/2014/07/29/most-interesting-makerspaces-in-america/ ?

I like the fact that makerspaces are quite diverse and include diverse activities e.g. beer brewing, bike building, lockpicking etc.

Interestingly, I once visited an offshore rig and the rig had a craft room. This room was incredibly popular with the people working on the rig.

It could be interesting to take used containers from the neighbourhood and upcycle them into new products for sale. I know someone that converts empty liquor bottles into side lamps.

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Photo of Maria Van Doremalen
Team

Hi Kim, very interesting concept that immediately captured my attention from it's title, from my personal opinion, because the 50's are becoming the new 40's most people around their 50's are very much aware of technology, perhaps including features such as 3D printers and latest technological tools would help with the feeling that their are keeping up with the world and capture some attention. 

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Hi Maria
Thanks for your comments. The digitization of everything started many years ago now including music recording, photography, printing & publishing, the Internet etc. Many of us Elders were pioneers in these transformations and so the the idea of "only the new generation" as digitally native is a bit stigmatizing. Even my 85 year old Mom uses an iPad and a Smartphone on a daily basis. What a lot of the younger generations lack is the foundations and concepts of creative things and the constraints that challenged their Elders to develop the technologies in the first place.

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Photo of Sandy Fischer
Team

Bainbridge Island is 22000 people, many commute to Seattle. BARN started in a storefront but the new building is under construction. Mostly privately funded through donations. I think fundraising took about 6 years and is still underway. People join. There are also classes and workshops people pay for. If you are a member ($30.00 per month) there are open studio times 3-4 days a week that you can uses tools at no charge. The island is fairly affluent and has a long history of supporting artists. Memberships can be monthly or annually.

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Great idea Kim, and thanks for sharing what is going on at BARN, on Bainbridge Island, Sandy!  I like the mission statement!  Their goal is to bring people together, different ages, newcomers and long term members of the island community, to learn, share skills, inspire, so that the community will grow together and become more resilient.  
http://bainbridgebarn.org/about-barn/our-mission/

Kim - There have been a few posts on this challenge describing maker spacers and incubators for a 50+ group.  I love the idea of creating opportunities to meet to share ideas, with the possibility of working and building things together.  I can't decide if I think that some folk would like to join something that is specific for their age, or whether this is limiting.  I tend to like the idea of bringing all ages together as it expands possibilities.  What are your thoughts for this maker space?  Will it be exclusively for 50+?  I wonder if maker spacers, and incubators, that are geared for specific age groups might benefit from partnering with others in some way to exchange ideas?

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Thanks for the question Bettina

No I don't think there is any advantage to exclusivity for a particular age group however I think that a focus on creating  Maker communities of "Elders" at the core builds on the idea of inclusion and addresses ageism in some respect. The idea of a Makerspace/Hackerspace in hand with the Incubator concept is typically thought of as a young 20 something persons enterprise. I would like to switch that narrative to the concept of Mentorship, Craftsmanship, Experience etc. and to fuse the best part of the "Start-up" culture with that of the "Slow Movement" culture. I believe you can  teach old dogs new tricks and perhaps this would be a great way to bridge a gap between the young and old - a new form of Eldering [hence Re-startup] - also of course all supported by new collaborative and community based financial models.

Kim

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Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

I really like the way you articulate this about switching the narrative.  Maybe that is what the issue is - that somehow this type of experience has been earmarked for 20 something persons.   
Fusing the best part of the "start up" culture with that of the "slow movement" culture - sounds great!  You might be interested in checking out a previous OpenIDEO Challenge which focused on Up Mentoring - Youth to "Seniors" - as many ideas focused on the mutual benefits of bringing generations together.   Lots of interesting research posts and ideas there.  https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/youth-mentor/ideas

Also, I agree with you that focusing on a particular group fosters inclusiveness.  I think for some it might invite participation particularly if one knows one person that they can go to a meeting with, or to join with.

Looking forward to seeing your idea develop!

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Another novel addition to this space for sustainability and revenue generation

https://www.facebook.com/ATTNVideo/videos/1626807070957581/

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Kim!

I have found a few resources that might help you:

MakerSpace in the Library: Funding Resources - https://cdn.sparkfun.com/assets/e/1/7/c/1/MakerSpace_in_Library_-_Funding_Resources.pdf

A kickstarter campaign for a maker space - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1971607020/steamlabs-community-makerspace-everyone-can-be-a-m

Would it be possible for a credit union to fund a maker space and start recouping the cost in membership fees?

This is an example of what Barclays Bank did in the UK - Barclays launches Eagle Labs – Inspiring the UK to get making - http://www.newsroom.barclays.co.uk/r/3318/barclays_launches_eagle_labs___inspiring_the_uk_to_get

Lillian J Warner - the Barclays launches Eagle Labs article might also feed into your team's incubator idea. 

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Kim,

Thank you for sharing your idea.

How do you see the role of credit unions in this idea?

Do you see a tie-in with sites like Etsy?

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

I see a good fit with Credit Unions, being community minded, offering guidance with maintaining membership based institutions and with financial mentor-ship and support

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

I see classes being available regarding digital marketing and online eCommerce opportunities, like Etsy.

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Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard
Team

Kim Upright you might also want to check Lillian J Warner idea https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/financial-longevity/ideas/incubator-club-for-credit-union-members/ This might be a good to provide support and resources to the members of the makerspace and connect your idea with Credit Unions. 

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Photo of Lillian J Warner
Team

Hi Kim Upright and Anne-Laure Fayard ! Kim, I like your idea! Agree that the in-person components of both your idea and our team's overlap a lot. 

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Photo of Varun Singh
Team

Its is one of the good ideas.

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Photo of Radha sivyer
Team

great idea! really like the idea of bringing the community together for something meaningful similar to the kind of work that "men in sheds" are currently working towards.
a family member of mine is part of a  similar "club" to this but have to travel a long way to get to it so by having a closer more convenient gathering place for them will both help them with their dreams as well as getting to know others interested in that skill closer to them 

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Photo of Kim Upright
Team

Hi Radha -thanks for your comment

I have come across the Men in Sheds movement in my research into the subject of Maker communities. I too have an issue with proximity to a "place". My community [St. Albert AB] is a small city on the outskirts of a larger Canadian city. It is more like a suburb and is still quite an affluent population, despite the collapse of the oil economy, however this makes any available space for rent or lease prohibitively expensive for a non-profit. Our city is branded the Botanical Arts City however most of the support from our municipality is with the so called "Fine Arts" and they have studio space provided in government owned and operated facilities.