Tuesday Creativity Retreats

Okay, set up next Tuesday’s co-working session for Maram. I bumped the cost up a bit to $10, because $5 wasn’t quite enough to cover groceries. Still need to figure out how best to indicate sliding-scale / scholarships on that page, but if anyone would like to participate and needs a discount code, do let me know. Our goal with Maram is that no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Register here

(We’re doing these Tuesdays through the end of April; at that point, we’ll re-evaluate, look at doing on weekends or in the evening, etc. If you have preferences, please let us know!)

Art at the Retreat

Mary Rodes Dell joined us for our productivity/creativity retreat yesterday. Here’s what she had to say about her day:

I took a day off work today to join in a creativity retreat at #Maram Makerspace, hosted by Mary Anne Mohanraj. I spent the morning learning to draw an acanthus leaf, which was a popular 19th century (and earlier) decorative motif. There’s an entire book about drawing it on archive.org—these pictures are my version of the first exercise in the book. In the afternoon I got started on a celtic spiral design. It was a delightful day.
Edit: Here’s the book, Guide to Drawing the Acanthus by I. Page: https://archive.org/deta…/guidefordrawinga00pagerich/page/n8

Creativity and Productivity Retreat

There has been much quiet productivity here today, but I have to say, writers do not make for the most dynamic photos. Thank goodness for artists.

I was SUPER-impressed with the kind of work Mary Rodes Dell is doing, and I am going to make her come back and teach me how to do fabric design. (3D modeling is probably beyond me.)

February Maram Weekend of Making

Maram’s February weekend of making went pretty smoothly, even though I had to duck in and out a lot for family commitments and the Big Idea coaching session. I think it definitely helps stacking linked things together — the two writing classes flowed smoothly into the publishing workshop, and several people attended all three.

I love that pic of Deborah Jian Lee fearlessly leading her writers into new territory in Maram’s February personal essay workshop. I was doing paperwork in the next room, but kept being distracted by the super-cool stories they were telling. I hope we can have her offer it again soon, because I want to take it now!

I taught Intro to Crochet. I think I actually managed to teach 3 people, and remind 2 who had done it years before. I think I have to cap this class at 5, though, unless I have a helper — it was so hands-on, I don’t think I could’ve managed more.

Our first 3D printing workshop for Maram was with Kurt Hedlund. My printer actually stopped printing partway through, but that just gave us an opportunity to demonstrate debugging the printer, so it’s all part of the workshop making process, right?

I love what the students came up with, and Carolina Song’s expression!

A January Day of Making

January Day of Making starting strong for Maram; I don’t want to intrude on them, but there’s a lively discussion happening in my dining room, with Alec Nevala-Lee teaching Writing Science Fiction that Sells (focus on plot). I am v. impressed with the writers who are dedicated enough to come out for a 9 a.m. Saturday workshop, when it’s only 6 degrees F outside. That’s some writerly passion right there!

(Note also that Ellie appears totally able to nap straight through a writing workshop.)

Maram makerspace programming workshop — v. simple programming, where you enter some questions and answer into a spreadsheet (Kev tried to come up with ones Anand would find funny), upload them, and then Google Home will let you and anyone on your network play the trivia game. Kamal Jackson did a great job talking his students through it.

And yet, even though this programming was super-simple, I think teaching this kind of workshop is particularly challenging — little mistakes the students make often take the teacher’s attention to fix, and it’s hard to scale up.

I used to teach basic HTML in tech writing classes, way back in the long ago, so people could build basic web pages. I remember spending much of the second half of the class running around from student to student, fixing things, while the rest of them had to deal with a bunch of dead time. It got better as the class progressed, and more of them became able to assist their classmates, but still.

There are probably ways to deal with this issue? It doesn’t come up the same way in writing classes!

One of the nice things about having these early workshops at my house is that it’s easy to invite the instructors to bring their kids along as needed. We offered TV, and there was some MagnaTiling, but then Kavi pulled out the long-neglected rainbow loom, and it turned into an impromptu makerspace workshop on looming bracelets. Making brings joy, and unexpected workshops.

Does that mean I’m supposed to pay her an instructor fee now? 🙂 (Actually, I think the youngest girl already knew as much as Kavi did…)

Sale for January Day of Making

SALE: We’re delighted to note that we’re able to offer a 20% discount on this Saturday’s non-profit makerspace workshops! Just $40 each now! 
Register here

Join us to learn how to:


– write science fiction that sells
– make fresh pasta and vegetable ragout (and take some home with you)
– program in Google Home (no programming experience necessary!)
– upcycle found items into jewelry
– creatively and beautifully mend
– participate in inspiring community conversations

Light refreshments will be available all day, and if you’d like, you can even join us for dinner (either brown bag it, or just $8 for soup and sandwiches). Join us, and make something fabulous!

Day of Making

We’re really excited to offer our first Day of Making — awesome workshops in writing, cooking, coding, jewelry-making, artistic mending, and community-building! We hope lots of you can attend!

Register here!

Creativity Retreat This Sunday!

At my house in Oak Park, the kids will mostly be upstairs, we have a small and gentle dog, and some steps up to the front door.

Morning session (continental breakfast provided, $15):
8 – 8:30: meet and greet
8:30- 12:00 quiet work time

12 – 1: Sri Lankan lunch, talking allowed ($15)

Afternoon session (snacks provided, $15):
1 – 4:30: quiet work time

If interested, comment below! Capped at 8 people, and I have 1 registered already. A portion of proceeds will go to the Makerspace project!

Maram Makerspace Updates

BIG IDEA: The big thing is that we did submit the Big Idea Grant on time! Big thanks to everyone who worked on it, especially Laura, Pam W., and Carollina — Carollina took over from me when I left the country on the 23rd and made sure a beautiful clean copy was submitted. We should hear back in a month or so on whether we made the finals. We’ll start the process of applying for other grants soon, but there are a few other things to do first. If you’re interested in being on the Grants Committee, please let me know — I’d like to have 3-4 people working on those on an ongoing basis.

WINTER PLANNING MEETINGS: I think we’d said Tuesday evening was a good time for core people to meet — if that’s right, then next Tuesday, 1/15, would work for me. 6-8 p.m., and I’ll have a simple dinner of some kind here, probably soup, salad, and sandwiches. (Let me know if you have dietary restrictions, please.) Please RSVP if you plan to be here so I can be sure to have enough food. Carollina had also offered to host a meeting, so perhaps we can do the February one at her place? Please save Feb 12 and Mar 12 in your calendars.

(If you’re not already on our core planning board or advisory board, but think you might want to get more involved, please let me know — I’d love to have you come to a meeting and talk about it more. We’re going to try to keep the process as open and transparent as possible.)

JANUARY WORKSHOP: I’m a little behind my own schedule on this, but I think there’s still enough time to put this together for the last weekend in January and publicize it. I’ve found some free scheduling software that I think will be a big help in getting us a clean professional look. I’ll be working on this either later today or tomorrow, so expect more soon. I’m also adding a small creativity retreat this Sunday at my place, with a portion of funds going to the makerspace. Will send details on all of those soon, once I’ve confirmed with all the teachers, basically.

If you’re interested in being on the Programming Committee, please let me know — I’d like to have 3-4 people working on those on an ongoing basis.

 I’d also LOVE to have a few people on Webmaster duty; if you’re familiar with WordPress and can help out with that, let me know. (I can also train you — WordPress basics are very straightforward.)

I think that’s it for now — more soon! Please comment if you have any questions, and again, thanks for all your work so far! Part of my own homework for the month is learning how to use two new tech tools — a 3D printer and an Instapot. Will be fun!

Holiday Sale to Promote Makerspace

From 2-6 tomorrow, jewelry designer Alix Mikesell (https://alixmikesell.com), textile artist Pamela Penney (https://www.facebook.com/pamelapenneytextilearts/), and myself (making books, art prints, sweets, and soap, mostly) will be hosting an event to support a new makerspace project in our area — a portion of all sales will be donated to the project, which will be starting programming January! (You’ll hear a lot more about it soon, but we’d be delighted to tell you more about it if you come by tomorrow.)

We’ll have some great stocking stuffers, gifts for your best girlfriends, and even some great little items for the men and kids in your life. If you’re interested, just let me know, and I’ll PM you the address! There’ll be savory and sweet refreshments, along with some wine and other drinks!