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Harpswell Makerspace

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Harpswell Coastal Academy MakerSpace

It turns out that the best way to 'do it yourself' is to NOT do it your self. That is to find other people nearby who can help out in new ways" - Bre Pettis, Creator of MakerBot

Location and History

The Harpswell Community Makerspace is located at the former West Harpswell Elementary School at 9 Ash Point Road in South Harpswell, Maine. Following the consolidation of Harpswell Primary schools in 2011, the building has been converted to a multiuse community facility of which currently the Harpswell Coastal Academy (a public charter school) and the Ash Point Community Library are the primary users. By transforming the former elementary school building into a multi-use public resource the Harpswell Community Makerspace serves as a model of adaptive re-use in small, rural communities around the country.

Vision

The Harpswell Community Makerspace is where local knowledge grows into global innovation. We provide the resources, and infrastructure for the local community to realize its creative potential. Working in a small, rural community in Maine,we build on local traditions of direct democracy, independent ingenuity and common-pool resource management as a foundation for modern practices of open source technological innovation.

Model

Most Makerspaces follow one of three different models-

  1. Educational-exclusively oriented for use by students in a classroom format, funded through school budget

  2. Library Makerspace- Open to the public, funded by grants

  3. Membership based- Similar to co-working model, funding is generated through members' dues

The HC Makerspace will be unique in that it will have attributes of all three models. Using a flexible github-based infrastructure with a primary emphasis on project documentation, we will work closely with two (three?) institutional partners to provide access to diverse constituencies.

Partners

The HCMakerspace is the result of a collaboration between three(?) organizations with each representing a specific instititional model. The structure of the makerspace will reflect the following organizations and their respective disciplines.

  1. Harpswell Coastal Academy- - Model- Education

  2. Code for Maine - Model- Civic Hacking/ Civic Startup Accelerator

  3. Ash Point Library (unconfirmed) Model- Library as Makerspace

Harpswell Coastal Academy

The Harpswell Coastal Academy is a public charter school serving students in grades 6-12 from across the midcoast region. The schools emphasis on place-based and project-based education makes it a perfect candidate for makerspace activities. Like many small towns across New England, the local school serves as the focal point of civic life. This fact is especially clear in Harpswell, where closure of the old West Harpswell School after a contentious consolidation debate, left an enormous void in the towns civic life. So when the Harpswell Coastal Academy opened up in the old school building, it was eagerly embraced by the vast majority of residents with or without enrolled students. This community vitality has allowed the school to take an innovative entrepreneurial approach to improving educational opportunities for their students.

A pilot program creating two weekly "Maker/Media Labs" has been underway since September and has been an enormous success.

Code for Maine

Code for Maine is a local "Brigade" in a national organization called Code for America. As a brigade within a national network, Code for Maine aligns with the parent organization by

connecting citizens and governments to design better services,

encouraging low-risk settings for innovation; and,

supporting a competitive civic tech marketplace.

Since its founding in 2012 Code for Maine has also identified several locally-specific areas of focus that guide the groups direction.

Encouraging strategies for regional collaboration

Applying techniques based in the Maker/Open Hardware movement in a Civic Hacking framework Leveraging Maine's strong culture of civic engagement to promote technological innovation Within this framework, Code for Maine develops an annual strategic plan outlining campaign strategies that align with these goals. Goals outlined in the 2014 Strategic Plan include forging partnerships with legacy institutions of strong cultural relevance to make a lasting impact on civic life.

Ash Point Community Library (unconfirmed)

As the first tenant to move into the building after the West Harpswell Elementary School closure, the Ash Point Community Library is now a well-estblished resource for the community at large. (cont.)

Civic Startups

//For example, rather than pay a huge food services contractor like Marriotto provide school lunches, the school worked with a local entrepreneur to start a low-profit YC3 social enterprise called "The School House Cafe". The cafe works with the local Community Supported Organic Farm to serve healthy and tasty meals for the students, while teaching them about cooking and nutrition. What's more however, is it also fills a crucial niche in the community at- large. Until recently, year-round residents would have to drive over an hour round trip to get as much as a cup of coffee. The School House Cafe offers a place for year-round residents to connect without having to waste gas and staying home.


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