Kitchen as Makerspace

 – A clean kitchen is a sign of a wasted life –

There are all kinds of making. One of the most important, one that everyone does, is the making of food. From a simple box of KD or a peanut butter sandwich to a gourmet soup or roast dinner, humans make everyday: we make to survive. For those of us lucky enough to have them, the kitchen is where this making takes place. The heart of the home, the kitchen, this space is where we share, contemplate, and where we come together over the things we’ve made.

Since the beginning of the MakerBus project (coming up on two years!), “making” in my kitchen has taken on a new meaning. A large square dining table in the center of the room has become a workbench, a gathering place for creative minds, and a place where things get made.

What kind of things, you ask? Well, our Printrbot was assembled here. One of our first forages into becoming true makers (perhaps when we didn’t realize that was what we had always been), this 3D printer sat in parts on the kitchen table, growing slowly, and whenever we could find the time, over the course of 9 long months. Various donations of maker equipment from our friends at Liquid Wrench, Literacy Link South Central, and the Prakash Lab at Stanford have been unveiled at this table, leading to conversations about new exciting methods of delivering our digital literacy content to the London community. Many a Lego brick has been made into jewelry here, as we’ve worked harder and harder to fund this bus project, the one that fuels us, knowing that we are, with every build, making a difference.

As I sit here writing these words (literally, as my little man has my laptop currently committed to the world of MineCraft) I am amid a disaster. A collection of random boxes of needles, LED lights, conductive thread and tin foil. The MakerBus team is running one of our biggest events to date tomorrow: a rapid-prototyping activity for 300 high school girls, aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship. We’ll be receiving payment for this event, which, for the first time, will be able to go into our own bank account: that’s right –  we officially became The MakerBus Collaborative this week, when we registered ourselves as a small business! The money we make now can go back into programming, which, if things continue as they appear at the moment, will be a full time commitment this summer. Perhaps soon we’ll be able to hire someone, bring another maker to the table and learn from them, while at the same time contributing to the London economy. Perhaps one day we’ll have a permanent office to go with our mobile makerspace, and things will migrate there, leaving my kitchen table bare.

For now though, I consider myself incredibly lucky to be able to invite amazing people (you know who you are!) into my home to talk, tinker, and teach each other. As we scarf down our pizza because we have no time to cook, we recreate the meaning of making in the kitchen. Together, we’ve pushed the MakerBus from a concept to a moving vehicle, to a small business, and so much of that has happened right here. While we know all too well that there’s always more to make, I wanted to pause for a moment and reflect on what is perhaps the most important things that have been made here: the bonds we build along the way.

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