The San Francisco Bay Area has a history of making (think Silicon Valley, microchips, VR, Elon Musk etc.). While I was in the area I had a poke around some of the spaces to make in. Not all the spaces for making are entrenched in the Silicon Valley ethos, and some (not all) are set up in opposition to some of the tensions that have arisen through the technology / consumer driven objectives that dominate a lot of the creativity in the Bay Area. On my trip I visited a few of these spaces.
Ace Monster Toys
There are a few making spaces in the Exploratorium. The one above is part of the fabric of the museum, and run by both staff and volunteers. There is also a making space on their other pier, used to make a lot of the exhibits, and a smaller making space in the tinkering studio.
I met up with a collaborator Natalie Freed, and her sister Emma who are working on a book (that is still in development process so I can’t write much about it here). We spent a day collaborating on some ideas around technology and craft at Ace Monster Toys.
Natalie works in the electronics department at Pier 9, and she gave me a tour (it was only the next pier on from Exploratorium). The space is amazing. I was particularly intrigued by the “paper 3d printer”. A machine that glues and cuts old stacks of paper to make 3d models. It is quite old technology (compared to some of the CNC machines on the pier), but amazing what you can make.
I stumbled upon Hacker Moms on while in Oakland -a space for mums who code or make or work in creative freelance work. Members pay $3 an hour for childcare while co-working in the space.
There are many more making spaces in the Bay Area that I didn’t get a chance to visit on this trip but worth mentioning here….
Liberating Ourselves Locally (LOL)
Lol is “a queer and trans people of color -centered, social justice -focused Maker Space in East Oakland”. I didn’t get to go to the space, but hope to one day.
Double Union is a feminist hacker / maker space “where women can feel equally comfortable knitting, coding, drawing, or using power tools and no one feels pressure to prove they belong here”. They have a shared anti-harassment policy and a list of base assumptions for members.
Creative Growth is an arts studios for artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities.