Unveiling the GALA Makerspace Schematic Design!

GALA’s plans for its new Makerspace at 23 Bay Street, Wolfeboro, will be presented to the Wolfeboro Planning Board at their June 2nd Meeting. Ground-breaking for the newly designed renovations is scheduled for the fall. 

We wanted you, however, to be the first to see these plans and hear the news, since it’s people like you who have enabled us to come this far.  It is because of people like you, that what was once a pie-in-the-sky dream, is now taking shape with pen and paper, and soon, bricks and mortar.  

The plans you are seeing are the result of extensive community outreach and needs assessment, as well as research to satisfy necessary building, and life and fire safety codes. Since purchasing the building in the fall of 2017, we’ve been deeply immersed in an environmental assessment, soil and water testing through NHDES, energy assessment, site plan update and all its elements, parking plan, wetland delineation, and setbacks, etc..  Meanwhile volunteers have contributed hundreds of hours into building stabilization and preliminary code upgrades, program planning, and fundraising. And it’s all starting to come together!

How much will it cost?

The schematic design process, which included seemingly countless meetings and site visits between our Building Committee, architects and engineers, town planner, code officer, and fire deputy, concluded that the total building renovation project will cost $2.5 million.  This price tag came as a bit of a shock to us, since we were under the impression that because a small engine repair shop had been operating out of the building for the last decade, fairly minimal upgrade investments would be required; no such luck.  But rather than stall in despair, we pulled up our GALA bootstraps, ramped up grant writing, and insisted the architects sharpen their pencils.

After much deliberation, the team found a creative way to break the project into two phases, the first of which will cost $1.35 million and result in a fully code-compliant facility where we can start offering programs and services to meet our mission.  So that’s what we’re going to do. 

What does Phase One entail?

The scope of Phase One focuses on building shell improvements, interior circulation, and life safety compliance. When completed, the interior of the building will be brought up to a level in which basic programming can be provided, the 60×60 second floor which was formerly storage, will be converted into a usable open space with dormers and new windows throughout, and the exterior of the building will have a completely renovated façade along Bay Street. To save costs, the original gambrel portion of the building will remain largely as-is on both the first and second floors. More specifically, Phase One will include:

– (2) New interior stairs, one open and one enclosed

– (1) LULA lift for ADA access to the second floor

– (1) New ADA bathroom on the first floor

– (1) Entry canopy and double-height entry lobby at Bay Street 

 (1) Secondary improved entry at NW corner of building

– (1) New flat-roofed dormer with extended roofline areas between, along Bay Street

– (2) Points of connection between the 60×60 space and the GALA offices area

– Lowering of the existing second floor in the 60×60 space to provide usable headroom

– Life safety upgrades throughout, including a new sprinkler system and exit lighting

– Insulation of the existing walls and roof of the 60×60 space

– New exterior insulation and finishes along the Bay Street façade, wrapping the NW corner

– New windows and doors throughout the 60×60 space on both floors

– Baseline HVAC throughout the building

– New plumbing and electrical throughout the building

– Solar array installation (Phase One Potential, based on budget and ability to complete new roof insulation and roofing on south roof plane)

Phase Two plans would be  largely implemented from the exterior of the building, with the interior work easily compartmentalized to cause only minor disruptions to the building’s operation.

Efficient insulation, heating and cooling systems will be designed for the building, as well as storm-water mitigation via the use of green roofs, rain gardens, rainwater collection and permeable paving.

A large solar array will be installed on the building, providing as much of the building’s electrical needs as possible and good natural daylighting throughout will reduce the need for artificial lighting.

How are we going to pay for it?

While all these plans were being drafted we have been diligently applying for grants and it is paying off.  $1million of this $1.35 million Phase One renovation budget has been committed from a Community Development Block Grant, a USDA Rural Development Grant, the Community Development Finance Authority, and the Northern Borders Regional Commission. These grant commitments are a testament to how important the state sees the role of makerspaces in meeting state economic development goals. 

To break ground this fall, however, we still need to sell $220K in business tax credits and raise an additional $350K in cash donations.  All funds will go directly toward matching these grants and completing Phase One renovations.

What can we expect when renovations are complete? 

The GALA Makerspace will adapt and respond to community needs as they emerge, as became apparent during the current pandemic. Makerspaces across the country pivoted their operations to supply PPEs for local hospitals and health care workers.  Makerspaces will be vital as the economy rebounds and people need retraining for inevitable career transitions.  The nationwide makerspace response to COVID underscores their value in community resilience and action.

The GALA Community Makerspace will:

Provide a physical space with access to tools and equipment for people to tinker, fix, repair, invent, build, cook, craft, break, iterate, and innovate. 

Coordinate workforce training to help close the skills-gap so businesses can grow, especially in the trades sector. 

Offer credentialing and portfolio-building opportunities to support career mobility, in partnership with education centers such as Lakes Region Community College and Lakes Region Technology Center.

Support entrepreneurs to launch their own businesses, in partnership with agencies such as the Wentworth Economic Development Corporation (WEDCO). 

Maintain an inspiring, shared work environment and facilitate peer-to-peer apprenticeships and mentorships. 

Organize classes on diverse subjects for people to learn new or advanced skills and interests.

Provide a platform for people to teach and share their skills.

Create a sense of belonging among makers and serve as an anchor when facing the inevitable ups and downs of being human.

How can you help?

Your continued support is needed now to ensure we hit our fundraising targets for a fall 2020 ground breaking.  Please consider one of these ways to support this community makerspace: a) volunteer on one of GALA’s committees, b) donate or pledge to the capital campaign, c) donate tools or equipment to the Tool Raiser Wish List, e) keep your business tax dollars local by participating in GALA’s tax credit program, or f) share the makerspace project with your friends and coworkers.

We hope you really let it sink in how YOU have made all of this possible.  We have arrived at this exciting moment in GALA’s story together.   Let’s not allow  the uncertainties of these times delay the very thing that will help us overcome challenges like this in the future.  The makerspace is seeding fertile ground for the reimagining and rebuilding of an economy that is more robust and resilient than the one we are watching buckle under pressure. 

 On the other side of this, we have an opportunity to build – to make – a society that reflects our deepest values, and in that process will become more fully alive ourselves, for indeed, “we build the road, and the road builds us”.  We couldn’t be more proud and humbled to be building, and walking, this road with YOU. 

Onward GALA Community
With vision, persistence, and deep gratitude!

It’s National Week of Making!

Did you know May 11-17 is NATIONAL WEEK OF MAKING – a time to celebrate the innovation, ingenuity and creativity of makerspaces and their makers around the world!

In the face of COVID-19, we are learning very quickly how valuable community makerspaces are for emergency preparedness.  While our original goals here at the GALA Community Makerspace remain central to supporting career pathways, and addressing the workforce skills gap, especially with the trades, this pandemic reinforces the imperative and importance of this work in relation to community resilience and mutual aid.  

While we don’t wish for future catastrophic events, we see that our future makerspace will be of far more service than envisaged and we are more galvanized than ever before to deliver on that promise. 

During this week of celebration we ask that you consider investing in the GALA makerspace.  Your support is seeding fertile ground for the reimagining and rebuilding of an economy that is more resilient than the one we are watching buckle under pressure.  On the other side of this, we have an opportunity to build – to make – a society that reflects our deepest values, and that’s where we see the GALA community really rising to the occasion, and the makerspace as the perfect vehicle.

You can donate online or by mailing a check to PO Box 2267 Wolfeboro, NH 03894.  Thank you!

Keep Makerspace Tool Raiser Top of Mind while Spring Cleaning

A much appreciated donation from Scott Travis including an air filter, jointer and grinder. Keep GALA in mind while spring cleaning!

With spring comes spring cleaning and GALA is asking residents to keep the makerspace in mind, with an eye out for items that could be contributed to their Tool Raiser. Take a good look in the deep recesses of the tool shed, garage or basement to find stuff you no longer use or need or would just like to repurpose. If it’s in workable condition, GALA may be able to take it off your hands and put it to good use at the future Makerspace. Not only is removing clutter known to relieve stress but now you can also enjoy the feeling of giving to a worthy cause.

As you may have heard, GALA is creating a makerspace in downtown Wolfeboro. Makerspaces are popping up all over the country – the world, actually.  Think of them like community centers that operate much like a gym. Instead of exercise equipment, there are tools, and instead of trying to get in shape, people are there to learn a new skill, develop or scale up a business idea, gain credentialing for employment mobility or career transition, or to simply tinker, fix, or repair everyday household items.  Most recently, we are witnessing how makerspaces are also proving to be valuable community assets in emergency preparedness and response, something explained in further detail toward the end of this article. 

GALA’s makerspace home is 23 Bay Street, Wolfeboro and while much of the work just now is focused on the required building engineering, architectural and construction scope as well as fundraising, the actual renovation work is planned to commence this fall with a Phase 1 renovations completion date of late 2021. 

While the planning wraps up and construction is underway, GALA is looking for working-order tools and equipment for each of the future workspaces: woodshop, metal and welding shop, media and FabLab, and fiber art, fine arts, and jewelry studios. G.A.L.A. is working to acquire these tools ahead of time so it can hit the ground running with programs as soon as the last nail is pounded and contractors leave the site. 

Some of the items needed in the makerspace are quite specialized and big such as an industrial “serger” sewing machine, metal and wood band saws, lathes, milling machines and table saws. Others are smaller and for more general purposes such as sanders, screwdrivers, wrenches, nails, pliers and hammers.  There is also a need for consumables like sandpaper, screws, drill bits, saw blades, etc. You can find a regularly updated Wish List for the makerspace online at galacommunity.org/get-involved/wishlist. There you will also find an in-kind donation acceptance policy.  

At this point in time, as we are being asked to practice physical distancing, items cannot be delivered to the GALA makerspace. Participants are encouraged to keep them aside for now and either call the GALA office at 603-569-1500 or email (contact@galacommunity.org) to let someone at GALA know what you plan on donating. Someone will get back in touch with you regarding collection/delivery when it is clear how to do so in a safe manner.  After accumulating tools this spring and maybe into summer, GALA volunteers will organize, refurbish, and repair tools. Items that are deemed duplicates or not of use will be included in a sidewalk sale in the fall to raise equally critical money for the makerspace opening.  Many generous residents have already contributed to this Tool Raiser effort, equipping GALA with valuable tools and equipment to get started. 

It has been inspiring to watch how makerspaces across the world have responded to the coronavirus. A quote from a recent Makezine blog shares that “Thousands of (Makerspace) inventors and product designers have been co-developing makeshift protective gear, respirators, ventilators, and other crucial equipment across the USA and worldwide. Makers in countries like Israel, Chile, Serbia, and the Czech Republic are leaning in to create solutions, many of which will be ready or near-ready by the end of this week. In fact, in some places, such affordable products are already being manufactured and used to protect medical teams and save lives.”  As if makerspace weren’t relevant enough in addressing workforce challenges and carving out pathways for gainful employment and fulfilling careers, they are now demonstrating how valuable they are for emergency preparedness and community resilience.  This is just one more reason to invest now in your local community makerspace, for the sooner GALA can reach its fundraising goals, the sooner your makerspace will be up and running and put to use in times of need.   

Contact Josh or Carol at 603-569-1500 or email contact@galacommunity to learn more and stay engaged.  And if you use social media, follow GALA on Facebook and Instragram @galacommunity for the latest updates and opportunities.

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