Decatur Makers Find New Home, Annouce Fundraising Campaign

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The Decatur Makers send in this announcement…

Decatur Makers finds a home, announces fundraising campaign

An unused church gym across from the Decatur post office will become the first home of Decatur Makers, a community-organized makerspace where adults and school-aged kids can invent and build.

Metro Atlanta’s first “family-friendly” makerspace, Decatur Makers has embarked on a campaign to raise funds and recruit volunteers to repair the gym, which is owned by First Christian Church of Decatur. The church has agreed to lease the 3,200-sq. ft. facility to Decatur Makers for five years in exchange for building improvements.

The fundraising campaign – facilitated through a fiscal sponsorship arrangement with the Decatur Education Foundation – will enable the all-volunteer Decatur Makers to replace parts of the roof, repair water damage and make other changes to prepare the building to be a makerspace. Tax-deductible gifts may be made securely online at DecaturEducationFoundation.org (with a reference to “Decatur Makers” in the form’s Comments box).

“The generosity of First Christian Church is turning an idea into a reality for the Decatur community,” says Lew Lefton, who chairs Decatur Makers. “If people in our community match that generosity in the form of financial gifts and volunteer hours, we can have the space open before the fall.”

Lefton added that a “Clean-Out-the-Space Day” has been scheduled this Saturday, March 22, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Volunteers of all skill sets may sign up to help at Volunteer Spot at http://vols.pt/AktJWv.

With a goal of $50,000, the fundraising campaign will support a long list of improvements needed for the space to be occupied, including new electrical wiring, drywall installation, roof repairs and plumbing. Lefton says the campaign has already reached 20 percent of its fundraising goal. Details on the needed improvements are available at DecaturMakers.org.

In addition to the fundraising campaign, Decatur Makers is offering multi-year Founding Memberships at varying levels for individuals and families. Founding Members pay membership fees in advance for access to the facility and workshops and use of tools. Membership levels also include a charitable gift to the organization, and Founding Members will receive prominent recognition in the new space.

The maker movement promotes creating, repairing, repurposing and otherwise making things from electronics to textiles, usually around shared equipment and community space. Decatur Makers is “a welcoming community of inquisitive people who work together in a safe environment to discover, understand, design and create interesting things.”

More: DecaturMakers.org

16 thoughts on “Decatur Makers Find New Home, Annouce Fundraising Campaign”


  1. And here’s an idea for a project: repairing toys from the toy park across the street, and finding them good homes when the park gets over-full.

    1. Oh, some nicely made and safely painted wood vehicles and playhouses would be so cool! Plastic is practical and cheap but so tacky, especially once it gets worn and dirty.

      1. Wonder how much of our collective energy footprint is generated every year by manufacturing, distributing, marketing and consuming “nicely made” products to replace “tacky” items that were serving very well through multiple use cycles but were deemed not lovely enough. Kids can actually have fun with sticks, rocks, empty buckets, mud, pine cones, empty cardboard boxes, etc. Tackiness is a purely adult construct.

        I’ve always thought a cool thing about that park was that it offered a second, long life for toys that had been outgrown or otherwise became redundant.

        1. Totally agree with you smalltowngal

          ” practical and cheap but so tacky, especially once it gets worn and dirty”

          That is probably said about Decatur bungalows as they are being demolished to build pseudo Craftsman mcmansions.

          1. Weren’t older Decatur homes more likely to have used wood, stone, plaster rather than more synthetic substitutes? Of course, there was the asbestos mistake….

            1. Not the post-WW II models. Lots of asbestos siding, sheetrock, masonite, linoleum. (That’s the house I grew up in — built in 1949 on the GI Bill.)

              1. My current house still has some asbestos siding buried somewhere within it. The safest thing to do was evidently to contain it. It hasn’t burned yet!

        2. I like the idea of recycling plastic toys once they are made. And I definitely think simpler, e.g. simple wood designs, or even sticks, cans, stones, are better than complicated plastic toys that leave nothing to the imagination or ingenuity of the child..

        3. Yes. This. Exactly.

          www theatlantic com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

  2. I’m curious about the “Metro Atlanta’s first ‘family-friendly’ makerspace” claim. Are most makerspaces elsewhere actually not family-friendly? And what does “family-friendly” mean? Is this like “family-friendly” restaurants? Do the other groups provide space for adults to make stuff without the need to ensure that everything is kid-safe? For example, where you can assume that you can set a power saw or soldering iron down without worrying about someone else’s child picking it up? Or that the projects are too advanced for kids? Or that kids are simply not permitted in these non-Decatur spaces at all?

    Does this statement indicate that the plan is for your group to do a lot of kid-oriented activities? And that kids are always welcome in the space no matter what type of activities are being worked on?

    1. Geez Nancy. Not sure what your intention was but talk about a condescending response to a great development for the community–adults and children alike.

      1. I don’t think Nancy’s comment was condescending at all. Nowadays, the phrase “family friendly” almost always indicates a situation in which there is no expectation or requirement for children to behave and respect other people, or for their parents to take any responsibility for seeing that they do. We’ve all been trained to understand that when a venue or event bills itself as “family friendly” it generally means everyone else–restaurant patrons, shoppers, festival goers, people who mistakenly thought they might enjoy an evening of live jazz outdoors at the community center–is expected to put up with whatever gets dished out by any children who happen to be present and allowed to disrupt other people’s experiences. It’s a sad but true fact of life. Hearing “family friendly” attached to a place like the Makers space, where the presence of children has many specific and potentially serious safety implications and could mean the space is actually of little or no value to anyone who’s NOT working with children, prompts reasonable questions.

  3. Sorry, didn’t mean to come across that way. I have not visited other makerspaces but had been thinking about looking into the Decatur Makers group as a way to expand and share my skills and to learn from other people who like to “make stuff” like I do. I have had kids in my own shop when working on projects and it’s a very very different environment when you have children around power tools and other equipment. You plan different projects, you do a ton more prep work, you pay a lot more attention to safety issues and you set different expectations for what’s going to be taught and accomplished in the space while there are children there. I love working with kids, but there are plenty of times when I would not want them anywhere in my workshop when I’m in the middle of some of my projects.

  4. Actually, I think Nancy raises some good points. The balance of kids and adults in a space like this will always be a challenge, but we’re willing to face it head on.

    Nancy, it’s hard to generalize much about “most makerspaces” since each one tends to reflect the membership and community it serves. There are “family friendly” spaces in other cities, but the active spaces in and around Atlanta are not generally considered to be places where kids are integral to the community. We think that, especially with modern digital design technologies, there are actually plenty of opportunities for kids and teens to build things side by side with adults, as long as there are clear rules and policies. And it’s been my experience that most kids can learn to use and respect power tools and hand tools as well as any adult.

    Safety (not just kid-safety) has been a critical part of our thinking from the beginning. Our current thinking is that the more dangerous tools (table saws, drill presses, laser cutters, lathes etc.) would likely be restricted so that they couldn’t even be operated unless the person who “badged them on” had completed the appropriate safety training, demonstrated basic knowledge of the tool, and signed the liability release. Standard machine shop safety practices (e.g. using the buddy system when working in the shop) would also be in force I expect. Tools that can cause serious damage would be in a separate area behind some additional access control. Electronics (including soldering irons), 3D printers, crafting, and other less dangerous stuff would be more accessible.

    Our board has been working on developing policies which will allow kids to be in the space as members, but not unsupervised, not everywhere, and not at all times (e.g. we expect to have “adult swim” hours). Some projects will be kid focused (see the fixing the toys thread above), some will be kid driven (e.g. the CSD robotics team are likely to use this space), and some will not have anything to do with kids (abstract art, small business prototyping, weird burning-man-inspiried awesomeness etc.).

    I’m happy to discuss this further if you want to shoot me an email at [email protected]

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