Monthly Archives: February 2011

Collaborative Spaces in SF #2: TechShop

A 17,000 square foot building in SOMA has recently been converted into a member-based community workshop called TechShop.  The space has a great array of equipment, including industrial sewing machines and sergers, vinyl cutters, soldering irons, 3-D printers, laser cutters, and woodworking saws.  Here‘s a full list of their amenities and tools.  In order to use most of the equipment, all you have to do is take a 1-2 hour SBU (skills and basic use) class and then you’re set to reserve stations and machines with their online calendar booking system.

I recently joined, excited by the prospects of laser-cutting wood, acrylic and rubber to my jewelry-making heart’s content.  The SBU class was just long enough to inform me about the basic operation of the machine, but wasn’t too drawn out.  The teacher of the course, Aaron, made it clear that he or another employee would be around to assist when needed during workshop hours, so even people without technical expertise shouldn’t be intimidated to try out a new art-making skill.

TechShop is perfect for inventors, makers, hackers, tinkerers, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, youth groups, robotic teams, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don’t have the tools, space or skills.

As TechShop is relatively new, my visits have been hassle free and uncrowded, with plenty of personal assistance from the “Dream Facilitators” when I have had questions about anything.  Even with the (thus far) quiet nature of the place, though, I have felt a sense of community and collaborative spirit in TechShop.   From people deliberately working on projects together to inspiring teacher-student discussions to chats with fellow artists about best-practices in a certain field, I’ve always heard lots of good shared knowledge filling the lofty warehouse air.  Hope to see you there making something!


Collaborative Spaces in SF #1: Noisebridge

Noisebridge, a “hackerspace” at 17th and Mission in SF, has a full kitchen, a classroom for hosting/taking classes, a computer lab, a crafting area… 5200 feet of “pure bizarre wonderfulness” (and it’s free and open source).  Long live public spaces and free and open discourse!

According to Noisebridge co-founder Mitch Altman, “A hackerspace is a physical space where people come into a community to make things…. We have one rule and one rule only, and that is ‘Be Excellent to One Another’. By putting a lot of diverse people on projects that they love doing, which is what hackerspaces are all about, we’re putting out this beautiful noise into society and learning a lot about ourselves, society and helping one another, helping our community along the way”.