What is a Makerspace and why is it important for Barrie?

My name is Brian McGillis. I am a Board member of the BRIX makerspace.

I would like to take a couple of minutes to try and show just how good a decision you have made, and to convey why we are so grateful and enthusiastic about this makerspace.

The concept of “making things” is of course, not new. Humans are inherently creative, all the way back to when we figured out how to use wheels and fire. This recent period of makerspaces and maker culture has been the result of new innovations in fabrication technology, reduced cost and increased availability of many of the tools and materials that people need in order to create things. The added advantage of the Internet means that the we have an existing wealth of knowledge and ability to collaborate worldwide. This has spurred a fundamental change in the world of invention, innovation, fabrication and creation.

A phrase used to describe this phenomenon is “The democratization of the means of production”. We now live in a world where someone with an idea and passion can pay a monthly membership fee, and have access to a makerspace filled with tools and supplies that removes the barriers that have existed in the past that could keep them from pursuing their creative ideas, whether that idea is to make a coffee table or build a mini sattellite.

Makerspaces have grown vastly in number over the past 2 decades. Popular Science reported in 2016 that in the previous 10 years, the number of makerspaces worldwide had grown from about 100 to 1,400 active or planned makerspaces, and there are more recent estimates that put that number at over 2000 today. There are many in the GTA and around southwestern Ontario. Notably Newmarket has had one called NewMakeIt that has been operating since 2015, and has had 3.1 million dollars in local economic impact, and created over 100 jobs in the area.

Besides access to the makerspace itself, a major part of makerspaces is the people and community within it.

The maker culture is largely made up of people that not only love to make things for themselves, but have a passion for making things for others, teaching other people how to do things, and for working together with other people. Not only will BRIX be a place where people will have access to the tangible things they might need to make something, but they will have access to people who will be able to show them how to use the tools, what to do with them, and help them follow their creative spirit.

We have seen this within the people already associated with BRIX, and with many people we have met and talked to as we have participated in events like Celebrate Barrie in the past couple of years. This

shows that there are many like-minded people who not only would want to use the makerspace, but who would also become active participants in collaborating, teaching and sharing to make BRIX even better. In the last few weeks as the news about BRIX has been getting out into the community, I personally have met several new people who have talked to me about their enthusiasm for the makerspace, about all the great things that BRIX can be, and what they can do to be part of making it happen.

BRIX hopes to benefit many different groups of people. Starting with kids and students, we will enable them to explore the world of creation, sparking their interest and facilitating their pursuit of their new passions. The world of fabrication and technology has grown leaps and bounds in the last century, and the pace is ramping up. For example, there are companies that are currently developing the process to 3-D print soft tissues with living cells to replace things like noses and ears.

These are the technologies coming forward today, and a makerspace is the perfect place for today’s students and entrepreneurs to get started on the technology of the future.

Hobbyists and DIY-ers will have a place where they can learn how to, and make; – bowls and cutting boards
– build a bookshelf
– make a robot

– design a sustainable automated rooftop garden
– create an interactive sculpture
– or just a replacement knob or handle for something

The possibilities are endless.

Entrepreneurs will have access to tools and space where they can scale up their operation, prototype new products and ideas, and have the potential to start a business that may have been out of their reach otherwise.

Anyone could attend a workshop and discover something new. This could be anything from electronics and programming, to painting, pottery, knitting, and sculpture, or a trade such as welding or carpentry, and help them on a career path they might otherwise have missed… and we know, there is a lack of available tradespeople in our economy.

We also hope to benefit the community by participating in some of the same types of programs our existing group has in the past, such as building community garden boxes in parks around the city, and doing wearable technology programs with the MacLaren Art Gallery. We also plan to partner with Barrie businesses to recycle electronics and furniture to reduce waste going to our landfill.

It may or may not be cliche to say that we will help people make their dreams come true, but it is true that it will be a place where people will be able to try and transform their ideas into reality.

I hope that I managed to adequately convey the potential that we have, and our enthusiasm. I would be glad to discuss further with any members or anyone else in earshot.

We again are grateful and excited for this opportunity, and we are eager to get started.

BRIX Woodshop @ Barrie City Council

We’ve been silent for a long time, but that hasn’t meant our work has stopped. We’ve been hard at work scouting out potential locations for BRIX to call home, and it seems like we’ve finally found one.

We have an accepted offer to lease space in beautiful Downtown Barrie.

This coming Monday evening, The City of Barrie’s General Committee will be voting on a Staff Report recommending the City provide some early start-up funds to see the Woodshop/BRIX get doors open, and the woodshop/makerspace built out in full ASAP.

If you can make it out to Barrie City Hall for an hour or so next Monday, Feb 3 at 7pm to show support for this important initiative in our Community, it would be very appreciated. RSVP HERE

We have been building relationships with a number of creative, arts and social service providers in and around Barrie, who all bring something unique to the table. In addition to the Woodshop; we anticipate investing in audio/video recording, ceramics & pottery, electronics repair, re-sale and recycling, sewing & weaving, jewellery/lapidary, introduction to the trades training, youth development through Sport and physical activity, food security and cooking lessons, various types of art, theatre and performance opportunities for the Community.

We intend to build the Makerspace into a hub of creativity in our Downtown, and we hope that you’re as excited as we are!

We’ll have a lot more updates and opportunities to get involved with our efforts as we very quickly transition from planning to implementing and operationalizing our goals.

Please reach out if you have specific desire or skills that you believe will help BRIX out!

Yours in making,
BRIX


BRIX Barrie Region Innovation Xchange Maker Market – A Success!

The first Annual Maker-Market was a huge Success!

 BRIX – Barrie Region Innovation Xchange have made a splash in Downtown Barrie with their first event.

With 20 different local makers, artisans and creators coming together to showcase their creations, they had the opportunity to meet other people in the maker community and to sell their often one-of-a-kind items to those looking for unique gifts this holiday season. There was a number of other makers on a waiting list which certainly points to the level of interest and need there is within our area to bring forth opportunities for makers to display their gifts and network with other creatives! 

More than 225 people came through the Five Points Theatre, few leaving without taking something home from the Maker Market. Reviews from those leaving ranged from glowing to asking if the market could become a weekly event.

While currently BRIX do not have immediate plans for another market, expect something similar during the warmer months! 


Noella Maker Market – Dec 16

Join us for the first Noella Maker Market inside the Five Points Theatre in downtown Barrie.

We’ve got space for over two dozen local makers of all kinds, and are inviting anyone who would like to participate to send us an email: make@brix.work for information and to reserve a table at no charge.

We want to bring makers from the greater Barrie area together to show off what you make, meet other makers and maybe find some one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family.

We are getting closer and closer to creating Barrie’s Makerspace, come out and hear about the exciting things going on.

The Market will be open from noon until 4pm on December 16, we’re looking forward to seeing you there!

Please RSVP here: Noella Maker Market

Celebrate Barrie Winners Announced

Early in 2018 a steering committee was struck with representation from the Barrie Woodworkers Club, SimCoLab, Firebird Community Cycle, the Barrie Public Library and the Creative Economy Department from the City of Barrie.

Since that time the steering committee has met every other week working collaboratively to determine the basic needs/requirements for the actual physical space, we’ve brainstormed on different trades/tools/machines we’d like to have in the space and we have entertained a couple of possible locations, though they are years down the road.

Separately but related, an Ontario Trillium Fund Grant Application was submitted in February, designed to provide some funding to hire a consultant or several students to research other Makerspaces, funding opportunities and overall business model creation. We will find out if we are successful sometime in July and have a job description and list of responsibilities/outcomes nearly finalized for posting should we be successful.

A name was selected by vote among the steering committee, a lot of different acronyms were thrown around, the one chosen is BRIX, short for the Barrie Region Innovation eXchange.

We have a website, which you can find here: http://brix.work. It’s very bare-bones at the moment, but you can definitely share the page to ‘join’, which adds people to this very email list. The website will see updates over the summer months.

Our biggest outcome to date, is that at our last meeting an initial Board of Directors was struck and the steering committee was shut down. We are excited to learn about our Trillium grant, and have a back-up plan and solid Board in place to keep the momentum going.

We are looking for interested candidates/Organizations/groups who are makers and who would like to provide input into the direction BRIX takes over the next many years here in Barrie. All who make ‘stuff’ are welcome to contact us.

Thanks for reading, please definitely respond back if you have questions, comments or feedback. Also please share the link to join our email list http://brix.work/join

Now that you’ve made it all the way to the end, we’re so pleased to let: Robin A, Alexa S, Amanda O and Paola know that they’ve each won a hand carved pen which was made on-site at Celebrate Barrie by the Barrie Woodworking Club!

Congratulations to everyone.

A makerspace?

The “Barrie Makerspace” is being formed for the purpose of:

  •         Providing entrepreneurs requiring access to information technology, programming and construction facilities to develop, refine, construct prototypes and promote ideas and fledgling businesses
  •         Providing facilities for fledgling businesses allowing them to establish a foothold in their industry without having to face startup costs.
  •         Providing facilities for recreational makers to pursue their hobby in a community workshop environment

Partnerships in the Barrie Makerspace are open to those various disciplines –recreational or otherwise- that are in keeping with the overall objectives of the Barrie Makerspace objectives.

Membership in Barrie Makerspace is open to anyone[1] subject to satisfactorily displaying

  1. Competence and ability to meet the safety standards established for the tools and equipment the member seeks to use.