Engine of More: Barn Raising
I was lucky enough to attend some talks at STEAMHouse in Birmingham last night, the event run by Maker Assembly will be happening regularly for the near future so watch STEAMHouse’s pages for more info.
One speaker, Joseph Halligan, from Assemble, told us, amongst other stories, about the Yardhouse Project. The Yardhouse project was an affordable shared workspace building in Stratford, on land that was shortly to be developed into the Olympic Park in 2012. One image and idea that struck me from the talk was that of a barn raising (apparently also know as a rearing in the UK!?)
In the talk I was struck by the fact that building the Yardhouse together with the skills they had and with materials from scratch, was a super important part of not just raising a building, but making a cohesive collective.
The concept of a barn raising is evocative of the people pulling together to achieve something bigger than they could alone. It conjures stirring images, like the one above, of the whole community engaging in a gargantuan project. One can imagine how being a part of that project might feel and how rewarding it might be to know you helped build that barn?
I’ve long been trying to grasp what the differences have been for me personally, between current day hackerspace experiences and those of when founding the Nottingham Hackspace. Furthermore the experiences I witness of newer people coming to an established space and how they wrangle or assume that the space came together.
This is a topic I will explore further, but my takeaway is this. A barn raising or rearing is important for a group, especially for a group of makers. It may be literal like the building of the Yardhouse was for the Assemble collective, or it could be a little more figurative. The idea has bearing also on newer intake to the space, that is to those who join the group later. They may need a barn raising of their own, to truly bring them into the community you seek to create.
An aspect of community building I’m keen to explore is that of bonding through a shared hardship*, that hardship might be some form of “boot camp”, a shared experience allowing the member to push themselves through something difficult in order to assert their right to become part of the collective. These ideas aren’t fully formed and I’m aware the language might be highly off-putting at this stage.
*I want to point out I do not mean a real hardship, more of a personal challenge that allows growth. I also recognise that such language may seem prickly and elitist to some so I am want to make quite clear this is a theme I am still researching and may prove irrelevant. However there is no disputing the bond that is shared by those who have been through something together. I promise at some point I’ll expand on why that might be good for some hackerspaces.
today’s thumb is a picture of some welding PPE at the STEAMHouse in Birmingham.