How Does a Maker Space Build Community?: With Snow…

Teams of makers and non-makers alike came together to make stuff with snow at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Teams of makers and non-makers alike came together to make stuff with snow at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Understanding how community develops through maker, tinkering, and design thinking experiences is one of the key aspects of the Agency by Design initiative. And so, when a maker space in our own back yard sent out a Facebook community alert this past week—we were all ears…

As many of you will have heard (or experienced!) on February 8–9, 2013 a powerful winter storm rolled over the Northeast United States, dumping nearly 24 inches of snow on the greater Boston area. While local residents hunkered down to weather the storm, Artisan’s Asylum—a 40,000 square foot maker space in Somerville, MA—was plotting a snow day party for makers in nearby Union Square.

With the majority of its members living within one mile of its Somerville location, Artisan’s Asylum is known not only for the wide range of tools and equipment it offers, but also for the strong sense of community it generates amongst its members. On Saturday, February 9, that community turned up in full force to dance, play, and make in the snow. Dozens of local residents (over 750 people according to the event’s Facebook page) joined the makers in the snowbound festivities.

With a driving ban in effect, local residents walked through the streets to the Artisans’ Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

With a driving ban in effect, local residents walked through the streets to the Artisans’ Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Music, dancing, hot chocolate—and even beach balls—were available in abundance at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Music, dancing, hot chocolate—and even beach balls—were available in abundance at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

All sorts of characters turned up for the Artisan's Asylum Snow Day Maker Party. This Tusken Raider had just arrived from the desert planet of Tatooine.

All sorts of characters turned up for the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party. This Tusken Raider had just arrived from the desert planet of Tatooine.

Makers from Artisan’s Asylum taught the community to make giant geodesic snow balls at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Makers from Artisan’s Asylum taught the community to make giant decahedral snow balls at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

A community snow fish was one of the many creations at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

A community snow fish was one of the many creations at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Recycling bins were strategically employed to create giant snow bricks for improvised snow fort construction at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Recycling bins were strategically employed to create giant snow bricks for improvised snow fort construction at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Colander + surgical tubing = giant snowball slingshot at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

Colander + surgical tubing = giant snowball slingshot at the Artisan’s Asylum Snow Day Maker Party.

After a while, every good Snow Day Maker Party turns into a giant community snowball war. Attack!

After a while, every good Snow Day Maker Party turns into a giant community snowball war. Attack!

Snowball fight!

Snowball fight!

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About Edward P. Clapp

Edward is a senior research manager and a member of the core research team working on the Agency by Design initiative at Project Zero, an educational research center at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Edward’s current research interests include creativity and innovation, maker-centered education, design thinking, and contemporary approaches to arts teaching and learning. In addition to his work as an educational researcher, Edward is a lecturer on education at HGSE. Web: http://scholar.harvard.edu/edwardclapp Social: @edwardpclapp

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