Drafting the Mission Statement

So, I have to draft this for the Maram makerspace meeting tonight, but I’m also going to do it as a blog post, so let me just draft this here. Let me know if anything’s unclear?

(If you’re local and would like to come to a Maram planning meeting, this would be a good one to attend, as it’s the seasonal reset meeting. 5 – 7 p.m., my place, dinner provided, please RSVP if attending! If you need to show up at 6 because of commute or anything, that’s fine, just let me know.)

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Maram Makerspace is a mission-driven Oak Park area project, created to bring together people, knowledge, and tools (physical & digital) to spark inspiration, bridge the gap between the desire and the means to create, and build a collaborative, inclusive, community hub.

We’re particularly interested in offering sliding-scale tuition and scholarships, to extend the joy of making to those who might be otherwise excluded.

Through a combination of workshops and talks, memberships in the makerspace itself, and eventually event space rental, we look forward to funding a long-term sustainable non-profit arts, tech, and writing community. We look forward to building bridges to Austin, Berwyn, Forest Park, River Forest, Elmwood Park, Galewood, and other surrounding communities.

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a) What happened with the Big Idea? We put together a great presentation, we were finalists, but we didn’t win the $50K, which would’ve guaranteed two years of rent on a space. We did get about $350 in audience vote door prize money, which was nice. We’ll apply again next year!

b) How much money do we need for a space, exactly? It’s about $25K / year for rent on the kind of 1200 square foot space in the areas we want (good foot traffic, good parking, close to public transit, accessible from Austin / Berwyn), which would let us do a solid version of what we’re looking for. There’s a bigger version of the maker space that would let us do a lot more, but it would require raising a lot more money. In addition, there are insurance, etc. costs.

c) How much money do we have on hand? We have $15,000 in pledges from two big donors, plus about $1000 from the Big Idea + tuition on events. We’ve also had various items donated, such as two projectors, a printer, a Cricut, a sewing machine — we even have a line on a lasercutter. We’ve bought some stuff too — a big screen, a 3D printer, a tent for events!

d) Are we renting a space this summer? Maybe. We can put maybe $500-$1000 / a month towards rent on that, if we decide it’s a good idea. There’d also be some costs for insurance, etc.

e) What are the pluses / minuses of renting? The advantage is that we wouldn’t be working out of my living room anymore, and that we could hopefully find a fully-accessible space (I have stairs and pets). We’d also have a base of operations, could sell artisan items out of a storefront, etc. It might make more sense to wait until fall, though — a lot depends on how many active volunteers we have to work on the project over the summer. (This means you?) There’s so much we can do, but it’s all dependent on having enough capacity to do it.

f) How will we raise more money? Through tuition (workshops do bring in money, though it takes time to ramp up programming and publicity), and grants (we need people with time to work on that — no expertise needed; I’d be working with you; it’d be good training for future grant-writing work for anyone interested in development or arts administration).

g) What has Maram been doing so far? Writing workshops, days of making (3D printing, coding, cooking, jewelry, paper dying, gardening, more), creativity / productivity retreats.

g) What are we doing this summer? Presence at What’s Blooming on Harrison and Day in Our Village, more workshops and retreats (upcoming ones include adding board game jam, building jam, botanical arts), six-week writing classes, possibly a one-week summer camp. Maybe a textile arts working group for people learning to knit / crochet / etc., if there’s interest.

h) How are we on infrastructure? In the last months, we’ve put together our website (mostly Amanda Chablani‘s doing) and set up a newsletter, which should help with publicity; we’ve also hired a very part-time PR person who is doing tweets, Instagram, etc. for us. Thanks, Irene!

i) What do we need from volunteers? We need to know who can work on this over the summer:

– we desperately need help with PR. That’s our biggest weakness right now — we can put on great events, but it’s tough to get the word out. We could use volunteers to put together flyers, to print them, to walk them around to different neighborhoods (I’d love to have a point person for each neighborhood, ideally). We could use volunteers who will talk us up in various community forums. Beyond that, we can use people in any of the following

– the core admin team (currently me, Amanda ChablaniPamela PenneyAlix MikesellMeghan O’Shea) should be able to come to a weekly 1.5 hr meeting — we’re meeting weekdays right now, but that can shift if needed to accommodate others

– the space research team would be going to spaces and looking at them (that’s currently me, Pam Whitehead)

– the grantwriting team should start researching other grants and writing applications (that’s currently me, Carollina SongLaura Hsieh)

– the event staffing team should make sure that we have people working the booth at events like What’s Blooming on Harrison and Day in Our Village (that’s currently me, Pamela Penney, and Meghan O’Shea, primarily)

– the fundraising team should start thinking about when we’ll be ready to offer memberships / if we want to run a Kickstarter, etc. (that’s mostly me right now.) πŸ™‚

j) Can people give us money now? Yes!Β πŸ™‚Β And if you’re in the U.S., it’s tax-deductible. πŸ™‚

k) Finally, do we have a logo? Possibly. Check back soon. πŸ™‚

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Okay, so that’s the draft. What questions did I not answer yet?

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