The DIY East Bay Makerspace Part 1: A makerspace without class

Hey friends – Filma is kind of a special kind East Bay makerspace and creative collective. You see, we’re involved with makers all over the East Bay and we’re equally involved with other makerspaces. We’re at those makerspaces, with those other makers, making, taking classes, and participating in those creative communities. Now that we’ve spent several years with our own makerspace, participating in all these others makerspaces we’ve realized that we’re a little different.

Okay, maybe we have class just not… classes.

Okay, we’re more than a little different. We’re a lot different. And not in a competitive way; actually, we don’t want to live in a world without all those other makerspaces. That might sound odd to you if you have the standard capitalist mindset, but think about it – these other makerspaces do so much that we don’t do and we love what they do. Why would we want to compete with them? If anything, we’d like them to be more successful – please, check out the crews mentioned in this article.

These makerspaces, among other things, provide places for large creative gatherings and they break down the barrier to making, crafting, art (whatever you want to call “being creative”). Having the programs and facilities to enable anyone off the street to do exciting, and often dangerous, creative activities is a huge undertaking; we’re impressed.

These makerspaces do this because that’s part of their mission; that’s what they set out to do – inspire and educate. In many cases these organizations are also 501c3 non-profit which means they all have programs aimed at enrichment of the general public (you cannot be a 501c3 non-profit if you do not have a community enrichment program).

Consider the folks down the street at the Crucible (we can’t recommend them enough). Here’s their mission statement:

The Crucible inspires creative exploration and expression through welcoming, hands-on arts education and experiences for people of diverse ages and backgrounds. As an innovative hub built around the industrial arts, The Crucible is a catalyst for individual growth and vibrant community connections.

We certainly consider The Crucible to be a makerspace, and this makerspace is a school (and a non-profit). In fact, most makerspaces you’ve ever heard of are some kind of non-profit creative school on some level. Then, if resources allow, they offer various levels of access to the space for makers (Crucible has studios, lab time, and other offerings to creatives – really, you should check them out).

Here are a couple other makerspaces/art crews in the bay area that are built around this premise:

  • Ace Makerspace — Highly recommend this as well (also a 501c3). Lots of classes, often run through their meetup.com (which is a great place to keep up with their offerings). They have some overlap with the crucible, but also offer a lot that the crucible doesn’t.
  • Gray Area – Gray area is super unique (and also a 501c3). I personally think of gray area as the digital equivalent to the crucible. Less fire, more, electrons. They have amazing classes (I just took the class in dlsl shaders), and sponsor huge amazing art projects and events.
One Filma artist took a Gray Area workshop in glsl shaders and is currently DIYing learning more about computer graphics. We’re all learning new creative skills constantly and can’t get enough of the classes offered at makerspaces in the bay area.

Three awesome creative incubators in the bay area, some overlap with each other, but not really. They all fulfill a kind of specific need, and they’re all non-profits that provide a low barrier to entry to the public. You really should take some classes or consider being member with one of these organizations.

But here’s where we need to say: we’re not really like them, we’re different; we don’t offer classes and we probably never will. For one, the makerspaces mentioned already do an amazing job and we’d like to see you support them . Two – we’re all too busy making art. Three – we do want to inspire and enable you, but we don’t want to be your instructors, we just want to be your creative community. We all still learn at Filma Collective, but it’s through direct skill share and programs we collectively run for ourselves.

We DIY more just just our own art. We DIY our work surfaces too. Learn more about our DIY culture in the upcoming installments of this blog series.

When we call ourselves a DIY makerspace, it’s not as though people aren’t “DIYing” at these other makerspaces. However, at Filma Collective, you really own your own creative destiny. You come here with what you want to learn, the willingness to learn it, and you realize your projects here. We skill share together all the while taking classes at Crucible/Ace/Gray Area (and elsewhere!). We’re a different kind of makerspace and this is really the tip of our DIY-cretive-culture-iceberg.

Of course, a DIY makerspace isn’t all about your art, there’s much more. Stay tuned for the next installment where we further explore just what makes Filma Collective the most unique creative collective you’ve never heard of.