recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : renatom   3

What I’m working on lately: Practices of the minimum viable utopia (long) | Speedbird
"In the fusion of each of these three archetypal processes, el Campo de Cebada, Godsbanen and Unto This Last, we can see the outlines of something truly radical and terribly exciting beginning to resolve. What can be made out, gleaming in the darkness, is a — partial, incomplete, necessarily insufficient, but hugely important — way of responding to the disappearance of meaningful jobs from our cities, as well as all the baleful second-order effects that attend that disappearance.

When apologists for the technology industry trumpet the decontextualized factoid that each “tech” job ostensibly creates five new service positions as a secondary effect, what they neglect to mention is that the lion’s share of those jobs will as a matter of course prove to be the kind of insecure, short-term, benefits-lacking, at-or-close-to-minimum-wage positions that typify the contemporary service sector. This sort of employment can’t come anywhere close to the (typically unionized) industrial-sector jobs of the twentieth century in their capacity to bind a community together, either in the income and benefits they produce by way of compensation, in the conception of self and competence they generate in those who hold them, or in the sense of solidarity with others similarly situated that they generally evoke.

At the same time, though, like many others, I too believe it would be foolish to artifically inflate employment by propping up declining smokestack industries with public-sector subsidies. Why, for example, continue to maintain Detroit’s automobile manufacturers on taxpayer-funded life support, when their approach to the world is so deeply retrograde, their product so very corrosive environmentally and socially, their behavior so irresponsible and their management so blitheringly, hamfistedly incompetent? That which is falling should also be pushed, surely. But that can’t ethically be done until something of comparable scale has been found to replace industrial manufacturing jobs as the generator of local economic vitality and the nexus of local community.

So where might meaningful, valued, value-generating employment be found — “employment” in the deepest sense of that word? I have two ways of answering that question:

- In the immediate term, I believe in the material and economic significance of digital fabrication technologies largely using free and open-source plans, deployed in small, clean, city-center workshops, under democratic community control. While these will never remotely be of a scale to replace all the vanished industrial jobs of the past, they offer us at least one favorable prospect those industrial jobs never could: the direct production of items immediately useful and valuable in one’s own life. Should such workshops be organized in such a way as to offer skills training (perhaps for laid-off service-sector workers, elders or at-risk youth), they present a genuinely potent economic and social proposition.

There are provisos. The Surly Urbanist correctly suggests that any positions created in such an endeavor need to be good jobs, i.e. not simply minimum-wage dronework, and my friend Rena Tom also notes that the skills training involved should be something more comprehensive than a simple set of instructions on how to run a CNC milling machine — that any such course of instruction would be most enduringly valuable if it amounted to an apprenticeship first in the manual and only later the numeric working of materials. I also want to be very clear that, per the kind of inclusive decision-making processes used at el Campo de Cebada, such a workshop would have to be something a community itself collectively thinks is worth experimenting with and investing in, not something inflicted upon it by guileless technoutopians from afar.

- In the fullness of time, I believe that the use of relatively high-technology techniques to accomplish not merely the local, autonomous production of everyday objects, furnitures and infrastructures, but their refit and repair, will come to be an economically salient activity in the global North. In this I see a congelation of several existing tendencies, logics or dynamics: the ideologically-driven retreat of the State from responsibility for stewardship of the everyday environment; the accelerating attrition and degradation of the West’s dated and undermaintained infrastructures, and their concomitant need for upgrade or replacement; increasing belief in the desirability of densifying urban infill; the rising awareness in the developed world of jugaad, gambiarra and other cultures of repair, reuse and improvisation; the emergence of fabricator-enabled adaptive upcycling; the circulation of a massive stock of recyclable componentry (in the form of obsolescent structures as well as landfill-bound but effectively nondegradable consumer items), coupled to the emergence of a favorable economics of materials recovery; broader experience with and understanding of networked, horizontal and leaderless organizational structures; the creation of a robust informational commons, including repositories of freely-downloadable specifications; and finally the clear capability of online platforms to facilitate development and sharing of the necessary knowledge, maintain some degree of standardization (or at least harmonization) of practice, suggest sites where citizen repair might constitute a useful intervention, and support processes of democratic decision-making."
utopia  2014  adamgreenfield  openstudioproject  pocketsofresistance  resistance  institutforx  godbanen  aarhus  madrid  spain  españa  elcampodecebada  untothislast  london  making  makerculture  economics  production  fabrication  democracy  labor  upcycling  collectivism  collaboration  repair  furniture  agency  denmark  davidharvey  postcapitalism  sharingeconomy  sharing  libraries  lcproject  community  communities  cooperatives  anilbawa-cavia  renatom  airbnb  couchsurfing  kintsugi  seams  minimumviableutopia  douglasmeehan  idealism  practicalism  jeremyrifkin  self-reliance  murraybookchin  jugaad  fabbing  gambiarra  fixing  maintenance  cv  repairing 
april 2014 by robertogreco
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society raises questions about what we freelancers need to be productive.: Observatory: Design Observer
"Rena Tom and Bryan Boyer have been thinking about how freelancers work, personally and professionally, for much of their careers. Rena owned and operated the cult design store and gallery Rare Device, and has also worked as a designer of jewelry, stationery and web pages. Bryan, trained as an architect, was most recently Strategic Design Lead at Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Among his projects there was Brickstarter, about which I wrote here. But rather than industrial design machines like cubicles, cases or office landscapes, they've created an idiosyncratic place to which freelancers can bring their laptops, headphones, and caffienated beverages. A space in which, they hope to create a sense of community and strenth in numbers.

In September 2012, Tom opened Makeshift Society in San Francisco. The society is,
an organization that fosters creativity, collaboration and community through a coworking space/clubhouse, innovative programming, and support for freelancers and small business owners. We want to enable everyone to make, learn, teach, and think.
Now they are bringing that model to Brooklyn, in a larger space in Williamsburg. They have the money to build it out, but they are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to create a creative tool lending library for that space. New York apartments make it hard to store, and use, the books, materials and equipment one needs once and a while.

In the Q&A below, Rena and Bryan talk about their lessons learned about workspace, community, and how to develop a business out of your own needs."



"Makeshift was at first just going to be a lending library for design books, and I’d split the rent with a couple friends Victoria Smith (sfgirlbybay blogger) and Suzanne Shade (creative director/muse at Minted) and eventually it turned into what it is today."



"As a place, we focus on having a diversity of micro-environments that suit our members at different times and in different moods. Even though SF is not quite 1000 square feet we have bright corners and darker ones, work desks and softer spots like sofas, seats for up to 20 and even a nap loft if someone needs down time. Despite making claims of freeing their members from the corporate grind, a number of the coworking spaces we saw when doing research for Makeshift look rather like a nicely appointed corporate office."



"Fast internet, WiFi, and copious power outlets are the starting point. A printer helps. We’ve thought about adding a fax machine in NYC because it’s the sort of thing that you use very seldomly, but when you do it’s often the only option and finding one can be so annoying.

The qualities of the space are the more important amenities, really. Things like an easily-accessible location; a nice, calm, well-designed environment; great daylight. These relate to aspects of the community as well: being able to leave your things around while you step out for a bit saves a lot of the hassle that one endures when working as a constant guest. Being surrounded by people who are working as hard as you are helps create a contagious sense of motivation. And being in a place where your peers are working on interesting things is critical."



"As you think about opening the Brooklyn space, what are you designing differently?

RT: I have a feeling that Brooklyn members will more results-oriented than the San Francisco crew, or at least they are in a greater hurry to get there! We’ll accommodate that with tighter programming (events and classes), but we also want to import some of the West coast vibe, which has a somewhat longer-term and broader definition of “results”, along with acting in a mutually beneficial manner. (Adam Grant’s book Give and Take has quite a bit more to say about that.) We want to show that flipping roles and being a teacher sometimes and a student other times is extremely valuable.

One of the ways that this will be expressed architecturally is a very slight emphasis on the more traditional studio model. In SF we do not have dedicated desks, but in NYC we will. In SF we have one small conference room, in NYC we’ll have one small room for focused discussion as well as one larger room for presentations, and a number of phone booths.

BB: I also want to mention something that’s not going to change in BK. We’re making a commitment in this location to having an open workspace, so you will not see any miniature glass cubicles. We’re going to keep BK as open as possible, just like SF."



"How do you see your spaces as interacting with the cities and neighborhoods around them?

We’re deliberately choosing neighborhoods that are lively, with bubbling street life and a significant number of local residents. Makeshift Society works best on the ground floor where big windows encourage passers-by to enter, and where the view of the street provides visual stimulation for our members.

Most of the SV companies you’ve written about start from the premise that they need to protect their secrets and capture 100% of their workers’ intellectual capital, which has the effect of turning them inwards as closed campuses where every idea has a whiteboard to land on, and every door secured by a keycard. The city itself is humanity’s best engine for connections and inspiration, but again and again we see corporations recreate a sanitized, interior version of a city all for themselves. The city-within-a-city architectural strategy becomes irrelevant or even counter-productive if you’re not constrained by the same IP concerns.

Makeshift has the freedom to embed ourselves in the existing networks of the city itself, and to benefit from the actual, spectacular diversity that’s already there. We don’t need to have our own privatized transportation system, we need to be located near public transit like the subway and citibike; we don’t need to go through the gymnastics of creating ‘interior streets’ or plazas. We have a real street right outside our windows!"
workspaces  makeshifsociety  bryanboyer  renatom  howwework  openstudioproject  classroomdesign  schooldesign  interiors  alexandralange  2013  coworking  community  lighting  openspaces  tcsnmy  cv  lcproject  workspace 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Makeshift Society
"Make, learn, teach, think. A clubhouse for creatives in San Francisco."

"Makeshift Society is an organization for those who crave camaraderie to fuel their creativity. Our members are curious and creative. They make with their heads and think with their hands.

We support collaborative projects and community-building activities through a coworking space/clubhouse, innovative programming, and support for freelancers and small business owners.

While we fully embrace technology and its ability to transform and enhance our businesses, we feel like there are many coworking and networking options for technology startups in San Francisco, but far fewer for those in other creative fields. We want to enable everyone to make, learn, teach, and think."
srg  glvo  openstudioproject  lcproject  bayarea  hackerspaces  makerspaces  making  coworking  sanfrancisco  2012  makeshift  makeshiftsociety  renatom 
september 2012 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read