In June, Marietta residents Nick and Sarah Arnold attended the second annual Nation of Makers Convention in Chattanooga, TN representing the Building Bridges to Careers (BB2C) Makerspace and the Washington County Public Library, respectively. The Nation of Makers Convention (NOMCON) brings together community leaders, maker organizations and related agencies to discuss issues, challenges, and ideas related to the national maker community.

The mission of Nation of Makers is to support the full range of organizations that impact makers by encouraging connections, broadly sharing resources, facilitating funding opportunities, engaging in policy development, and advocating for the maker movement. NOMCON carries out this mission through a host of facilitated workshops and panel discussions, group tours, networking events, resource exhibitions, and engaging speakers.

“I appreciated seeing real-world examples in other communities that illustrated the wide variety of people who have the power to be part of a movement,” said Nick. “From government representatives to retired craftsmen, everyone can provide leverage. It’s all about how well makerspaces can align themselves in the community to build on that local wealth of expertise.”

Both attendees were inspired by the impact being made by maker communities nationwide and the growing number of resources available to those starting or sustaining makerspaces.

“While the Washington County Public Library is already a strong partner with the BB2C Makerspace, it was encouraging to see how public and academic libraries are finding creative ways to connect with local makers,” said Sarah. Currently, Washington County Public Library cardholders have free access to the Tech Space featuring 3D printers and vinyl cutters. “I would love to see more cardholders and community members take advantage of the resources available at the Makerspace.”

Equipped with examples of best practice and successful strategies being employed in maker communities nationwide, Nick and Sarah look forward to sharing what they’ve learned through an upcoming Lunch-and-Learn series with the Makerspace staff and members this fall, touching on topics such as building the local maker pipeline, fostering a culture of collaboration, and makerspace sustainability.

“Supporting the local maker community is – at its very core – an investment in the future of your town. You have the power to directly impact another person’s life and skillset,” said Nick. “Whether you have time, knowledge, materials, money, or some other personal commodity – EVERY resource contributed to a makerspace has a compounding effect on local cultures and is actively changing the future of our cities across the nation.”

The overall message from the conference was that the maker community is growing and will continue to do so. “We are truly fortunate to have the BB2C Makerspace in Marietta and others nearby in the Mid-Ohio Valley region,” said Sarah. “Between the needs of the regional manufacturing industry and the growing ‘gig economy,’ the demands for diverse makerspaces are present.”