Q&A: A place for makers
A new kind of coworking space has come to town, with the goal of making Grand Forks a little more creative.
Makerspace, a coworking spot for people who like to work with their hands, opened in October.
Owner Aaron Mooney said he hopes the space will inspire people to keep learning new things.
The shared creative workshop at 1503 DeMers Ave., is filled with woodworking tools, 3D printers and other equipment. A membership is $55 a month. Makerspace also offers a variety of classes on sign making, shelf building, mug etching and other crafts, all taught by local "makers."
Mooney talked with the Herald about how the first several months of business have been and what he hopes to accomplish in 2019:
Q: For those who may not know, what is Makerspace? Why is a space like this important for Grand Forks?
A: It's kind of like shop class in high school, except you get to make and learn whatever you want, whenever you want, and it's open to everybody. I started the space because I wanted a clean place to make and I wanted to share it with other makers. It's really that simple. There are lots of creative people in Grand Forks, and we have great schools that encourage our kids to be creative. The whole point of Makerspace is to help our community keep making, keep experimenting, keep learning.
Q: What kind of people make up your membership? How many members do you have?
A: One of the fun things about Makerspace is the wide array of interests and experience levels that make up our community of makers. We've got 12 members right now and no two are alike, but what we all have in common is a love of learning and making. We like bouncing ideas off one another, learning skills from each other and collaborating on projects. It's a fun group to be a part of.
Q: What have been some challenges in starting a business/space like this?
A: We're offering something new, so naturally it'll take some time for people to come around. That's been the greatest challenge, just waiting for the idea of a makerspace to catch on in Grand Forks. It's the same idea of access over ownership that is permeating just about every industry, and we're just trying to hang in there until people to get on board.
Q: Where do you see Makerspace (and yourself) in five years?
A: Once the folks get used to the idea of sharing equipment and working together there's a lot I'd like to do. For one, moving to a larger space where we can accommodate even more types of making. Working to supplement manufacturing training and maintenance needs for other small businesses in the area. As well as creating a space specifically for kids to experiment and learn to love learning.
Q: How big of an impact do you think this will have on the community? What kind of legacy do you hope to leave with this space?
A: If Grand Forks on the whole produces a little more and consumes a little less; if we're a bit more innovative; if Grand Forks is just a bit more fun because Makerspace is here, I'll count that as a win.