The 11th floor of LA Mart is home to hidden hallways of creative spaces. But among the most unique is LA Makerspace, a hackspace dedicated to tech education for youth and adults. Director of LA Makerspace, Tara Tiger Brown, is a full-time mom, web developer, and tech guru. She's filled the space with some serious technology - 3-D printing, coding and laser cutting. With a great creative space and cool DIY machines, LA Makerspace is creating a community where people of all ages collaborate and learn how to bring their ideas to life.
Makerspaces, or more commonly known as hackerspaces, have existed around larger urban tech-savvy cities for some time now. Typically created by entrepreneur groups to inspire community and collaboration, they are a place where curious techies can congregate to share knowledge and resources to make things. Traditionally, however, they've been geared towards adults who actually know what they're doing, leaving youth and curious adults out of the picture.
Tara started LA Makerspace just one year ago as a place for people of all ages and skill-levels to collaborate on new projects. Tara is a natural educator and techie multi-tasker, wearing many hats at Makerspace. As she showed me around, she worked on her computer, handling emails and grant applications, while simultaneously walking me through how to create my own 3D printed bracelet. On weekends, she hosts discounted workshops for students and members on how to build tables or laser cut jewelry.
The space is wide open, decorated with colorful lanterns and handmade pictures of robots and fish. Layout at Makerspace is actually very important. "It's about connected learning, bringing people of all ages together," says Tara. She feels that students must feel comfortable and connected in a learning environment and the space definitely achieves that goal.
Large couches with books and drawing materials and even a large wooden spaceship were made in-house for students to have a space to chat and collaborate around. Makerspace is also one large room, divided into two sections by wooden pallets stacked vertically, functioning as both a gallery and a wall between the youth classroom and adult-facilitated shop area.
LA Makerspace is funded by a robust membership base. Three full time volunteers, including Tara, run the day-to-day operations. Looking for an online platform where everything could live in one place for volunteers to easily use, Tara was introduced to NationBuilder through a mutual friend. Just one month ago they launched the first iteration of their new website on NationBuilder to harness and track new membership. Memberships grant access to the co-work facility and the wide range of classes and workshops offered.
If you're in the LA area, swing by for one of LA Makerspace's many workshops and learn how to 3D print!