Dinner with Maram admins!

My remote part-time assistant Heather is in town! We decided to try having her take the train in from Ann Arbor for the weekend, so we can meet in person and see if having her here helps us power through some work. We went out last night for dinner with Amanda and Meghan, two volunteers who are holding down the fort on Maram admin work. Fun! (Chris was supposed to join us too, but schedule didn’t permit.). All hail the hardy souls who try to make sense of my ramblings!

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.)

Thoughts welcome on taking donations

A few people have asked how they can contribute to the makerspace (THANK YOU!), and I’m a little unclear on what the best approach is. For various work reasons, I probably can’t run a Maram Kickstarter until June (which would also give us time to prepare a proper fundraiser) — but maybe I should set up a Drip / PayPal or an Indiegogo campaign now, or both, just so we can start taking donations? Thoughts welcome!


I’m also unclear on whether there’s any benefit to doing Drip rather than PayPal at this point, given that Kickstarter has handed off Drip to somebody else, and aren’t supporting it as strongly as they did initially. We still have Drip in place for the SLF, but maybe PayPal is simpler, since I think with PayPal, people can easily do either per-month or single-time donations? If anyone has any info on this, or even opinions on which you find easier, prefer, etc., that’d be great.


(The SLF is serving as fiscal sponsor for Maram right now, so we can take tax-deductible donations in the U.S., and one of my tasks for next week is to open a fund for the SLF at the Oak Park Community Foundation, so we can accept stock donations as well. We’ll be doing Maram’s incorporation process shortly, although we have to answer a question first, which is whether to do it solely as a non-profit, or whether to do it with two arms, the for-profit (which might attract investors) and the non-profit (which would manage the sliding-scale and scholarship portion of this). That’s probably a whole ‘other post, actually.)

Big Idea Pitch

Aw, y’all. I think we gave a great presentation, but sadly, we didn’t win. I admit, I am bummed. The $50K from the Big Idea was awarded to It’s Our Future, an organization training youth environmental leaders.

Thanks to all the Maram instructors, organizers, supporters, and fabulous friends who showed up tonight. I’ve never really competed in this kind of thing before — the last time I did a public competition was, I think, the national Catholic school spelling bee in 8th grade, and only my parents (and maybe little sisters?) were there to cheer me on.

Big thanks to the husbands for awesome support. I think my co-presenter, Carollina Song, would agree with me that we are very lucky. I may have squeezed Kevin’s hand rather painfully during various points of this event, but he never complained

This was super-stressful, competing for $50K for the maker space, which would have let us move into a physical space probably by June, and it really helped having so many supporters there for the process. (That photo against the wall gives you a good idea of my state of mind for much of tonight.)

Now we’re on a longer timeline, I’m afraid, but I want to assure you that we intend to keep going with this — this was just one grant, and there are many more to apply for, Kickstarters to run, business people to talk to, entrepreneurs who might want to invest, etc. and so on.

I don’t think I can do a proper thank you to everyone who worked on this — Carollina Song, of course, but a host of other people came out tonight, or came to pitch rehearsal sessions, or have been helping all along the way.

Also, I have to go pack in a minute, because tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. I get on a plane to go to an academic conference. (The conference is in Florida, and if you think I may be downing a strawberry daiquiri or two while I’m there, that would not be an unreasonable assumption. *After* my panel presentation, of course.)

But thank you, thank you. Even though we didn’t win tonight, we put together what I think is a really strong five-minute pitch, that will likely be useful for other funding presentations going forward. And y’know, we’ll probably be back to apply for the Big Idea next year. Wish us luck!

(If you happen to be a millionaire or billionaire looking to invest in a community makerspace, give me a call. We’ll name a room after you. 🙂 )


The Big Idea pitch party is tomorrow

The Big Idea pitch party is tomorrow. This morning I dragged the projector and screen up from the basement and ran my pitch with my pitch partner several times, editing out words and adding in other words (“remember to say ‘vibrant!'”).

This afternoon I have gotten my eyebrows done and nails painted (deep blue), picked out some possible clothes to wear, and added some dark purple to my hair, to go with the blue, and also the black. My daughter said, “So you’re going to look like a galaxy?” and I said, “Yes, that’s the basic idea.”

Always look like a galaxy if you can.

I am now going back to grading, which has been the drumbeat of the last few days, the grading, because there is somehow so much of it right now, which maybe means I should assign fewer things? But I’m a little grateful for the grading now too, because it is keeping me so busy between now and tomorrow @ 6:15 p.m., that I can’t quite panic straight through.

Well, maybe the panic is there, under the surface. But I can drown it out with essays about race and gender and whether we can ever build an equitable community under the shadow of colonialism. Oh look, this is not so dissimilar to some of what we hope to do with this maker space of ours; the shadows are somewhat different, but the bright hopes are the same, and here we are again, panicking a little.

$50,000. Fifty THOUSAND dollars. That’s a lot of dollars. We could do something amazing with those dollars. We’ll see what happens.


Working meeting: reviewing Discord and Trello

Had a good, productive Maram meeting with Meghan O’Shea and Pamela Penney. We spent a little time reviewing Discord and Trello, and are now going to try to get the rest of the core admin team onboarded to those project management systems.

It was a working meeting, so instead of just talking about what we were going to do and making to-do lists, I was trying to actually do some of the things as we went — if I was supposed to e-mail someone, I often started adding it to the to-do list, and then stopped myself, and just sent the e-mail instead.

This is a relatively new practice for me, and something I’ve mostly picked up from the working meetings of the Sigiriya team, who are overall 1-2 decades younger than me, and who often have their laptops out during the meeting and are actively working on tasks while also planning, discussing, etc.

It sounds chaotic, and it is a little, esp. if people are also answering e-mail or otherwise a little distracted during the meeting. Sometimes you have to catch someone’s attention and repeat yourself, because they were typing something about a previous item, or about something that just occurred to them.

But nonetheless, I actually think a lot more gets done than in the more traditional old-style meetings, which were more about making plans for what you were, in theory, going to do later. Especially useful for people who tend towards procrastination and/or overcommitment, perhaps.

Slowly, slowly, the children drag us into the future. 🙂


First 3D printing workshop!

Our first 3D printing workshop for Maram, 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 Carollina Song‘s expression in that first pic. 🙂

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