Distributed network of Open Garages

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Dear friends of Open Garage,

The growing popularity of the Open Garage has been an amazing adventure so far. I love all the karma I have been getting from you over the last two years. Thank you all for the great support.

However, the huge popularity of the Open Garage may soon become its demise if we do not figure out a way to upscale the concept beyond my garage. It is fun to have many weekly visitors, but at +15 the garage is too small to accommodate any further upscaling of our community, which is very unfortunate.

Originally, we set out to start a distributed network of spaces where people could drop by on organised events, not just on Thursdays in my garage. This original idea has regained some traction lately and I would like to push to put this original plan back into action.

I will of course not stop organising my Thursday evenings, but I need your help. Do you have a garage, basement, garden shed, workshop, your company's lab or anything else that you want to open up, both our community and you can gain from organising extra events! You can all submit events to our Meetup group. One example of successful expansion are Stefaan's printer building workshops which have received a lot of positive interest because of the Meetup group.

Please, go to our (new!) wiki at

http://wiki.opengarage.org/index.php/Distributed_network_of_Open_Garages

to read more about how we can do this, which philosophies we want to spread and how I need your help to expand our thriving group. I want to please ask you (if you have the capabilities to help organising events) to seriously ponder this, we can greatly gain as a community!

I believe that a distributed approach is a beneficial and unlimited path to cope with the current growth. I am looking forward to your comments, opinions, thoughts and ideas (on the wiki or via mail at anthony@liekens.net) on how to work out this problem of upscaling while still maintaining our successful philosophy.

Looking forward to your contributions,

Anthony, Pinky and the Brain,- 2013-09-27

If you want to help organising events, please go to our Meetup group at http://opengarage.org and submit your events! Events are usually based in the province of Antwerp in Belgium. In the case that other locations want to copy the idea of the Open Garage and start their own localized distributed community of workshops, they are free to do so, but it is suggested they start their own local Meetup group, e.g. as "Open Garage Boston" while they can still make use of this wiki to support their organisation.

Contents

Network of open garages and workshops

Some people in our community have their own workshops, in their garages, basements and garden sheds. I want to ask them to open their workshops in similarity to the Open Garage events we have had so far. You open up at your own free will, as far as stuff is possible, on days and hours that you see fit. Your own house rules are fine, but it would be nice to spread our philosophy.

Maybe not everyone is as crazy as Anthony, but by opening up your workshop we can ...

  • allow people who are busy on Thursday evenings to join our community on other days
  • attract a bigger community of interested members
  • have more technologies, space and tools at our disposal

As a plus, you'll have

  • ways to show off the projects you are working on
  • people around that are willing to collaborate and help you out with your projects
  • collaborators without having to drag your projects out of their home
  • your social and professional network to be extended in ways you haven't imagined.
  • a way to gain real life karma points

Keep the philosophy going

Part of the success of the Open Garage is the philosophy and we would like to keep this philosophy at the basis of our concept. Here are some of the rules we'd like to spread:

  • The basic hackerspace principle "be excellent to each other" is of prime importance, all other rules are of lower priority
  • The Open Garage wants to encourage technology, innovation and engineering as a rewarding hobby, where you can observe, hack, make and spread gained knowledge
  • There are no limits to the topics at events. Electronics, cooking, bio hacking, knitting or any other topic may be of interest to our members
  • What you organise in your workshop is up to you. An open evening where people bring their projects, a workshop or tutorial to teach technologies, opening up your assets so more people can get access to it, a visit to an interesting place, a printer building event or a wine tasting event are just examples of what is possible. The sky is NOT the limit
  • It is important that people should learn from the events, our community is not about what people bring but what they take away from the events.
  • Failure of a project is never a sign of time lost, on the contrary.
  • Events should be OPEN to everyone
  • No membership or entrance fees are allowed (you may sell kits and stuff or ask for contributions to cover provable costs), as this lowers the barrier for (young) people to join
  • Beyond your house rules, politics should be ruled according to anarchist principles
  • The Open Garage community works as a wiki, everyone can contribute as long as the basic principle is followed
  • Ask visitors to bring drinks, the garage has shown that this lowers the burden of organising an event and our community's stock of drinks is very healthy
  • Collaboration on (your) projects is encouraged
  • Creating value and generating ideas that can generate money is not a goal, but if opportunities arise, these can be put into action as long as the prime principle is followed
  • Although we encourage openness and the spreading of ideas, visitors agree to an implicit and informal non-disclosure agreement so that they can discuss their proprietary ventures and ideas, while everyone remains excellent to each other so that proprietary ideas do not escape into the wild
  • All members of the Open Garage Meetup group can organise and suggest events at their free will and to the limits of what is possible

Why not look for a common location?

Another option to upscale the Open Garage is to find a location to hire and move our events and gear to that workshop. This is a method that is often employed by hackerspaces and has shown to be a successful formula. However, we have noticed that this affects the political and economical principles of our philosophy:

  • Location, electricity, etc are to be paid for by the community
  • The easiest way to accomplish this is to ask for membership fees
  • This requires an official organization, like a non-profit, to be started
  • Politics (egos that are in need of power) and economics break open communities
  • Where we currently have almost no politics and economics in our organization, putting such a plan in action would disruptly diverge from the current Open Garage's values and its philosophy
  • Additionally, a common location is not flexible with respect to upscaling either
  • By taking the suggested distributed approach we can upscale much further without having to descend into an organizational, political and economical abyss.

Please add your views, comments and ideas

As we want the community to act as a wiki, you are of course welcome to suggest changes, opinions, comments or whatever else you need to say.