Although it may look quiet from the outside, inside the big building at 23 Bay St, Wolfeboro – the future home of GALA’s Makerspace & Incubator – lots of action and positive progress has been underway since you last heard from us in the Spring!
Volunteer advisory teams have been drawing up floor plans and equipment lists for the various “maker shops.” The Building Committee convened for its inaugural meeting to strategize over schematic and development design timelines, opportunities and challenges. The admin team is juggling communications with and between architects, engineers, environmental assessors, grant donors, and state and local agencies. The GALA Board has reviewed and signed off on the final versions of the Feasibility Survey and the Strategic Business Plan, and several directors are working with local and NH businesses to turn their state business taxes into tax credits that will partly fund the building construction. (More on that soon!)
The volunteers planning the makerspaces are known as Shop Advisor Teams. Each team is made up of people who between them, have the knowledge and experience to design a workspace that is functional, flexible, and that allows for the seamless flow of projects and collaboration within and between groups. The teams are planning out work and design spaces for a woodshop, metal shop, for fine arts, fiber arts, and jewelry, computer and multimedia technology, and a commercial kitchen. In addition, there will be spaces for co-working and career development, community events and meetings, classrooms, and dedicated small office/studios available for long- and short-term rent. A gallery and retail space are also envisioned to showcase items crafted in the makerspace.
During the month of October, the Shop Advisor Teams and the Building Committee presented their recommendations to our architecture and engineer team – Leslie Benson Design, D/B, and Scott Simons Architects – who are now tasked with creating the schematic design of the exterior and interior of the building over the next few months.
Each team is considering how much space their activity requires, as well as functional needs such as lighting, electricity, heating, dust extraction and ventilation, safety regulations, storage, plumbing, work surfaces, and flooring. Additionally they are making lists of essential equipment to source.
Each workshop space is being designed with flexibility in mind to cater to the diverse levels of user ranging from professional to hobbyist to student. And, some spaces need the capacity to morph into a different type of space for projects or events that require a change in use.
Makerspaces combine community, education, and equipment that provide participants the opportunity, place, and peer collaboration to design and create projects that may otherwise not be possible with the resources available to someone working alone. One of the inspirations also driving the GALA Makerspace is its potential to play a key role in substance misuse prevention, workforce development, waste reduction, and adding to self-propelled educational opportunities.
On one hand, the GALA Makerspace will be a community-building hub that addresses some of the state’s most urgent workplace challenges by equipping participants with practical skills, training, specialized tools and equipment, and creative competencies that strengthen job creation and retention. It will also provide collaborative space and resources such as a “tool library” and “repair cafe” for learning, engaging with hobbies, or simply fixing or up-cycling things that may otherwise be destined for the landfill.
GALA is also designing the space to help build social capital and sense of community, which are also goals identified by that state of NH as critical to economic development. In the book Making is Connecting by David Gauntlett, he emphasizes, “social capital is not only a theoretical tool for thinking about the importance of social connections and civic engagement: rather, there is abundant evidence that social capital actually affects the outcomes of social behavior and is therefore a powerful force in its own right . . . research [has] provided clear evidence that having friendly social connections and communication, and working together with people on shared projects, is not merely pleasant-but-optional ‘icing on the cake’ of individual lives, but is absolutely essential for personal well-being and for a healthy, secure, trustworthy, society.” The Community Makerspace will be a creative hub for exactly the type of community collaboration Gauntlett argues is an essential component of a strong community.
“We are blessed in the greater Wolfeboro area to have so many gifted creatives who understand and enthusiastically support the big-picture concept of a makerspace,”says GALA’s Assistant Director, Carol Holyoake. “Not only have they have worked in these areas as a teacher or professional, but they intuitively understand the collaborative nature of a makerspace and its various shops, and the opportunities that contribute to the creative process when the right environment is in place. It is with much gratitude that I’d like to thank those involved: Mark Hempton, Eli Roxby, Dave Bolduc, Tom Loonam, Jennifer Kalled, Jan and Richard Croteau, Jeanne Flanagan, Perrin Long, Corinne Ferguson, Kenny Freitag, Steve Arsenault, Chris Hafner, Michael Babylon, Elena Piekut, Evan Henderson, Liz Kelly, Aimee Bentley,and Audrey Cline. This is of course in addition to the broad community participation in our surveys, visioning nights, and hard hat tours of which all of this design process is based on, and importantly the donors who have kept fuel in our tank during this exciting process.”