Can a Maker Culture help bring economic diversity and sustainability rural communities need?
Over the past couple of decades our region, along with so many others in rural British Columbia, has been faced with tremendous challenges seeing traditional industries such as mining and forestry diminishing, taking jobs and people along with them.
As a result, it’s been essential to look to diversifying from that of a resources based economy to one that encompasses other lucrative sources of education, jobs, opportunities, wealth, and ultimately, sustainability. Communities throughout the province are looking to the New Economy, or the knowledge-based economy, as the answer to closing mills and mines, embracing technology to not only add new economic drivers but revolutionize and revitalize the old.
And while we may look to all the big tech players; Silicon Valley and our British Columbia equivalent, Silcon Valley North – Vancouver – to help inspire the way, providing for the vital foundation of opportunity; the narrative is really taking shape and expanding with boots on the ground in rural communities like Trail, Nelson, Revelstoke and others providing for the essentials to a more Maker Culture approach.
What rural towns and small cities are recognizing is that not only does the talent exist in these places, but they’re eager to create new and vibrant opportunities lending to the long-term sustainability to new industry, but also contributing to the innovative change of those existing.
The key to this forward momentum is not big tech, not at all. It is the fast-emerging movement of the Maker. These communities encourage a maker spirit, and ultimately, a Maker Culture, providing for innovation at a very hands-on level, providing the tools, education and support to propel innovation and manufacturing, hand-in-hand with a tech startup, entrepreneurial energy.
Who are these Makers?
A Maker Culture draws innovators from industry, such as engineers and machinists, but also anyone else with an idea or concept interested in seeing it brought to life; the curious, the imaginative; and creating an environment in which they can flourish. These are the Makers: an illustrious group of diverse individuals who make up and support the Maker Culture and who share many of the characteristics of those we call innovators.
These folk see failure as part of the innovation journey, understanding that they learn so much from mistakes. Makers see the possibilities in technology and embrace it.
Makers enjoy the challenge and problem solving of a daunting task and don’t stop when the going gets tough. Similar to accepting failure, they understand that to get to the top of the proverbial mountain they’ll need to amass knowledge and experience. They set aside time to learn and fail. These are the owners of ‘what if, can we make it better, I wonder how we could…’ – curious and innovative thinking!
Provide the facility to nurture & develop the foundation – the Makers Space!
A space for makers brings the curious, the innovators, the inventors out of their silos and into a place together: growing, mentoring, learning, developing, sharing, fulfilling their curiosity and innovation. This is where magic happens!
A maker space, a foundational element in the Maker Culture for most communities, fosters curiosity, collaboration, tinkering, and iterative learning, which in turn leads to better thinking through better questioning. This leads to determination, independent and creative problem solving.
Community is the defining element of the Maker Culture on both a local and international scale. It embodies the following qualities: co-working, collaboration, teaching, learning and an open sharing of ideas. It also invites cross-generational and life-long learning encouraging individuals with a range of expertise to share their passions.
The greatest assets to any region’s economy are living and working right here. With innovations and ideas that range from developing a new wobbler conveyor to be used at the Teck smelter in Trail to a local small business owner creating a new business 3D printing beautiful, biodegradable pet urns and so much more, the ability to bring an idea for a new product or service to fruition with the support of the community is huge.
Facilities like ours here at MIDAS, support the expansion and development of local small and medium-sized companies’ strengths as they grow their businesses as well as individuals seeking the education, tools and equipment to explore the potential of their ideas further.
Through collaboration, adopting technology, and creating new and marketable products while promoting skills training opportunities in digital fabrication and metallurgical technology for entrepreneurs, company personnel and students the MIDAS Fab Lab is fully invested in promoting a Maker Culture.
Experience the Maker Culture for yourself – check out our course calendar HERE!