Hello everyone! I’ve been considering the density of hackspaces not far from Oxford for a while and how we can best support each other to grow and exchange skills. I initially started thinking about this when the EMPs were announced two years ago at EMFCamp. Organising a Thames Valley EMP has been a slow process due to many reasons but with EMF cancelled this year I’m really keen to push for one next spring. But that’s not the point of the post.
What I would like to focus on is the support EOF Hackspace has been getting from nearby hackspaces and how during this lockdown a lot of the activities have moved online. Throughout the last year many hackspaces have reached out to donate unwanted equipment that has helped us grow our offering. We have a few skill shares every week on our discord server and that’s amazing! But I’m sure there’s lots of small pockets of exchanges happening on all the online platforms. As we slowly return to the real world, I don’t think it’s a stretch to start organising some of these exchanges face to face.
So how to determine what would be a good exchange? I’m thinking something like a quarterly meetup at a designated hackspace where a few workshops are taught (one day of workshops). I’m also considering a shared regional communication platform. And obviously a regular EMP somewhere in a field over a weekend. I’m very flexible with suggestions.
Now what determines the region? I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about this. Again I’m very flexible but I’m also Oxford centric as I’m not wanting this idea to be diluted until it’s unimplementable. The first thing that came to mind was the Thames Valley Police encatchment area, but that excludes some really cool hackspaces in the region such as Swindon and Basingstoke. So I was looking for other arbitrary points of reference and the idea is that I’d like to focus on the area of South East Engand near Oxford. With the impending climate apocalipse, I looked at what rail lines are around and Didcot Parkway station links a lot of the major regional hackspaces. So it’s arbitrary, but it’s as good as it could get. It would encompas the tight cluster of spaces around Reading, but also include other hackspaces within about an hour driving distance. And as we find our footing I’m sure we can find where the centre of the cluster moves.
Proposed benefits of the network:
- regular inter hackspace meetups (quarterly?)
- skills exchanges and networking opportunities
- travelling tools, especially for smaller spaces
- start online collaborations and have a decent chance of bringing them into real world meetups
- common communication platform for online interests
- accessing UKHSF funding to support regional events
- have a geographical focus for any potential EMPs
- tools donation distribution from external sources
I’m proposing some ideas but I would expect interested parties to come together and see where we can find common ground.
I would love to hear your thoughts, and if you are part of the described region please mention the hackspace you are part of to get an idea of interest.