Bricolage is a podcast for makers, made in the united kingdom by dominic morow with new episodes more or less every week!

Engine of More: Hackerspace Mission

Engine of More: Hackerspace Mission

The following is some writing (I called it The Manifesto) I did about 3 or 4 years ago and is mostly about missions. I feel strongly that Hackerspaces need a clear mission. I also feel that “no mission” could be a fairly clear mission in itself with all that implies. I will write more about this topic I feel sure.

A recognition at this point, that sometimes people get put off by the words mission and mission statement. I think mostly people come across this sort of thing when they are dealing with a boss or company they might not like or when they are watching a film or TV comedy where the villain wants a mission statement. We’ve done a lot culturally to make missions and mission statements feel uncool and even evil. Humans do this a lot, we should really try to separate and calmly evaluate what a baddie is from the tropes used to make a baddie in our entertainment or personal rhetoric. Mission simply mean. I think the word purpose might be slightly less loaded a term, but mission really is the right word. (Feb 2019)


In this manifesto we will explore the standard moves and strategy that you can use to organise your Hackerspace. It won’t tell you how to use a lathe or which 3D printer to buy and it won’t tell you which software to use or how many programmers your hackerspace needs to run properly*. What it will do is give you a few “plays” that will save you time and money and help make your hackerspace a better, nicer place to work and socialise.

*answer - it doesn’t matter.

Be Clear, What’s the Mission?

Why do you want a Hackspace? What’s it for? It’s not an easy question to answer is it. Maybe you want somewhere to work and hang out? Maybe you want to meet like minded people? Maybe you’ve always wanted a laser cutter and want other people to share the cost with you?

Whatever the reason you need to be clear at least to yourself, why you want to make a Hackerspace. No one likes making mission statements, they seem icky and like corporate BS, but one thing is for sure, once you get started it will be very hard to find two people who agree WHAT the Hackerspace is, what it is for and what its purpose is.

Here are some suggestions, you can use these or adjust them or write something totally new. Just put something down. Nothing is written in stone and everything can be changed later, BUT the longer you leave anything the harder it will be to change it. More about that later. Try and keep it to just one or two sentences:

  • Our Hackerspace is a workshop where members share knowledge, tools, resources and space to make things.

  • This Hackerspace is a workspace where members pool their resources to achieve a quality of tooling they could not achieve alone.

  • The Makerspace is a place where makers socialise and share ideas.

It doesn’t matter which of these (or even none of these) you choose, but think carefully, what are the most important reasons to you now, before you start and before anyone else wants to come to it.

If people don’t like your mission and don’t rally to it then you might need to change it. You might need to compromise until you find a mission people can embrace.

You should keep your mission short and simple. No more than 2 or 3 sentences and so simple that the meaning requires no additional explanations. That they have simple easy for everyone to understand meaning, do not require most any person to look up the words (especially not in Urban Dictionary).

Avoid the following type of mission. They are worthy Hackerspace projects but they are not missions.

  • A place to work on the RepRap and a MESH Network

  • A place that my business can use for my work and will make money with access to tools on only my terms!

  • A Space that allows me to do more of MY hobby whilst other people subsidise it and act as cheap labour.

  • A shot in the arm for my cash-poor city/business/gallery/library/arts collective/school/museum to carry-on operating like it did in the good old industrial golden days.

Don’t include your conduct policy in your mission that should be a separate and clear document. More about that later.

Be clear what you want the Hackerspace to be, there will be those, who have set their own missions (worthy or not) that will try to co-opt your mission and change it into their mission. These commonly are:

  • Saving the planet

  • Sticking it to the man

  • Collecting junk

  • Furthering their business interests that may be disguised as a charitable act or selfless activity

  • Won’t someone please think of the children!

A mission should be so clear that, when you are making a decision (the group is deciding on X or Y) you should be able to say “Does X help us to; (then your mission) e.g. members share knowledge, tools, resources and space to make things?” If the answer is no, then you don’t need to worry about it. If the answer is yes, you should investigate it further!

About Compromise

Once you’ve determined what your mission is, you need to know which bits of it you are prepared to compromise on and which bits of your mission you are not willing to compromise at all. Whatever you do the moment you start to grow you need to be ready to compromise.

Well I hope this was helpful. Comments are of course welcome. Today’s thumbnail is my own workshop space at my home.

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