Reflections on White House Nation of Makers Event
Representing NYC Resistor at the White House for a Nation of Makers event was an incredible honor. NYCR put their trust in me to represent them, and their willingness to trust and empower all members is a big part of what makes them amazing. During the event the host invited me to take a visible and active role in the national community of makers by speaking, which deepened the honor. Afterwards, participants were asked to reflect on the overall experience and share.
The White House Nation of Makers event highlighted for me that I am not a member of one single community. I was there primarily as a representative of NYC Resistor, but also the communities of networks of makerspaces at national and regional levels, makers themselves, my small business at Super-Releaser, concerned citizens interested in inclusion and justice, and women in technology. My list could stretch a long way further, and each of those communities stands to benefit by strengthening makerspaces nationally. I intend to take the needs of all of my communities into account while working on makerspace grassroots efforts.
Makers have an incredible set of tools that can be applied to improving the world, and it was heartening to see that our government shares a vision of the potential from empowering the movement. This approach of moving action both from the bottom-up and top-down to bridge a currently wide culture gap, speaks to my maker’s pragmatic nature. I celebrate the idea that the do-ocracy skills we have honed in our makerspaces can now help iterate on culture and policy.
I’ve spent time since the Makerspace Organizers Meeting looking into my own toolbox. Since the problems at hand are being addressed by a large coalition of leaders, some of my tools are the same as the others at the workbench. So I dug a little deeper to find where best to apply myself to the problems at hand. NYC Resistor has gotten a lot of things right, especially in creating concrete actionable policies to encourage inclusiveness, and I can facilitate connections between our astonishing membership to some of the issues at hand. One of my tools is being a strong people connector, and I can help spread the work to make the load lighter and loop-in the good kind of disruption. I’m adept at long-term thinking, which can play a nice counter-balance in a fast-acting space. My experience and willingness to be a bureaucracy translator (as evidenced in this blog post) can be harnessed to greater collective benefit. I am sure I can find more things in my toolbox the longer I think on these problems, and I invite others to look in their toolkit critically for rare finds.
I was given a special opportunity to have an amplified voice in the proceedings, and am looking forward to hearing a diversity of voices in the ongoing conversation. This may require people who are usually strong voices to make space, and I hope we are up for that challenge.
I have been totally surprised by the strength and warmth of the response my talk has gotten and enjoying people approaching me with reactions building on the message of invitation. When I was chatting with a friend, she pointed out that there needs to be a corollary, which is to believe and accept the invitations. The White House event and Senior Advisor for Making, Andrew Coy, issued such a huge invitation, it is fun to see folks answer with such a large collective, "Yes!"