Saturday, June 8, 2013

Two years of Skullspace & Assentworks

tl;dr: Good job everyone, I didn't think we could go this far, keep working hard.

A little over two years ago a group of 20 Winnipeggers had their first meeting on the third floor of 125 Adelaide, having just rented the extremely dumpy, dirty space at a pittance, with the goal of turning it into Winnipeg's first hacker & makerspaces.

I was there, but thought this was too incredible to really work. About a year before, I was looking to borrow/use a flash chip programmer to recover from a bad BIOS update and was disappointed to find Winnipeg very lacking in hobbyist technical groups/organizations. There were a few niche groups (amateur radio, MUUG, WPCUG, MWCS) but nothing like the hacker / makerspaces of legend in bigger cities, where 24/7 projects, constant innovation and access to great tools and community technical advice was the norm. In April 2011 some Googling turned up mention of hackerspace plans for Winnipeg; I found myself at a King's Head meeting and thought it was a dream.

It took a huge amount of demolishing, cleaning, building, planning, more cleaning, wiring, organizing, discussing, innovating, advertising, etc., but the results speak for themselves. Two years later, Winnipeg now has Canada's largest makerspace (in sq ft and value of gear; pretty high up in member numbers too) with a very quickly advancing startup incubator, and one of the biggest hackerspaces (in sq ft and member numbers) at a new location that better fits its needs. The rate of progress, efforts put in, and resulting
community are phenomenal; a testament to both individuals' strengh and dedication and the caliber of people that live in this city and their desire to make it a better place.

There's still much work to be done - both spaces need a few more members to be sustainable, and especially more classes/events so as to teach and involve not only our own members but the public at large as well - but generally we're in great shape and the future looks bright for our groups and all the innovation, support, creativity and business we can bring to our community.

Thanks to all members and contributors, past and present, for the whirlwind of the last two years. Give yourselves a bit of congratulations for having done what you could to contribute to these great efforts, thank the others for what they've also put in, and keep up the good work. Filling a need is good; turning the process into a resource that keeps giving is phenomenal.

Colin Stanners
An AW & Sksp member

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