Designing MakerSpace with LEGO Play

The idea for a maker-space in Guernsey has been building for some time.

Inspired by five months of travels around North America on his motorbike, Adrian Ritchie came back to Guernsey with the idea of setting up a community space for makers, bike enthusiasts and creative people.  Person by person he has been inspiring and getting others involved.

The vision for the maker-space is to create an innovation hub, merging hardware and software to enable the Maker Movement revolution in Guernsey.  The mission is to create a diverse maker community that will help Guernsey become a player in the 3rd Industrial Revolution.

Sounds like a great plan but how do we go about it?

To get started a team of three met to play LEGO inspired by Marcel Lenormand’s interest in using LEGO play for creative and strategy work.

‘LEGO Play?’ – you would ask?  Yes, we want to build the maker-space in true spirit of modern innovation, communication and principles that throw out of the window old ways of working.  We had no idea what would come out of it and here is what happened…

The LEGO Play lunch designed to help us move the maker-space project forward.

Adrian Ritchie, Sasha Kazantseva and Marcel Lenormand met on Friday 20th of February 2015 to play LEGO.  Little did we know that we would have an incredibly important addition to our team in the face of JP, the wonderful 7 year old son of Marcel.

In between munching our lunch, we tried to answer two questions;

  1. What do I bring to the maker-space?
  2. What are our next steps?

For most of us, having never tried LEGO Play for strategy purposes like that there was an initial moment of stress and thinking “Oh, my construction is going to be rubbish”.  Such thoughts quickly subsided as we got busy choosing pieces and building our creations.

What do I bring to the maker-space?

After only 10 min of play, each of us presented our little grey Lego boards. Adrian went first and explained how he thought of himself as the original idea person illustrated by the LEGO man in the middle of an idea cloud and holding maker-tools.  Adrian mentioned that he did not really know how to take this Big idea forward and needed others to contribute.

I've got an idea!
I’ve got an idea!

Sasha explained that she saw her contribution as an ability to build open, bottom-up, grassroots communities — something that she has done several times before.  She used the open circle to depict the way people gathered together; circles are ancient ways that people came together to talk and dialog about the most difficult issues.  Circles don’t have hierarchy  and make everyone equal among each other.

We need a community
We need a community

Marcel followed by showing his board and explaining how some people laughingly refer to him as a wizard (with a beard like that, who can argue?).  So he illustrated himself as a Maker Wizard, bringing colourful sparkly toys to the table, teaching others how to make things.

Marcel can do wizardry
Marcel can do wizardry

It sounds like we had a perfect initial team to get the maker-space started — we had the idea person, the people person and a maker!

Little did we know that the biggest drop of wisdom would come from the LEGO board of JP who was initially very shy to share his creation.

Asked to explain what his board meant, JP said that he saw a treasure that was being tightly guarded and that a good warrior was coming to claim it but had to face numerous obstacles.

Free the loot and share it with everyone
Free the loot and share it with everyone

We thought that perhaps the treasure chest represented the resources that are available in the Island — yet presently blocked off from us — and that the warrior was the community wanting the maker-space to happen — in an open way and engaging with the local community.

We agreed that those are exactly the principles on which we wanted the maker-space to be founded.

Needless to say we were all stunned at the clarity and representation that a 7 year old could give to the project and how we wanted maker-space to be run.

This is what we bring
This is what we bring

What are our next steps?

The second question made us focus on what we thought was immediately required to keep moving this nascent maker-space in the right direction.

Interestingly, three of us came with similar ideas which could be summarised as; ‘building a small network of makers to offer great quality maker courses and building a website to promote these workshops’.

Do a few things well to encourage evangelism
Engaging a wider circle of people who go on to wave the flag in yet wider circles.
 Build a website with a menu of courses workshop then see the public come through the door to join in.

Build a website with a menu of courses workshop then see the public come through the door to join in.
 From a website head out in different directions to meet people where they are and engage in making courses and workshops.

From a website head out in different directions to meet people where they are and engage in making courses and workshops.

At this stage we were eagerly waiting to hear JP’s explanations of his Lego board.

Get everyone involved, every little bit of help builds a bigger & better offering
Get everyone involved, every little bit of help builds a bigger & better offering

He thought that the next steps included “many people bringing small ideas together to build a bigger idea”.

Our next step is to engage a wider circle of people who want to hear more about MakerSpace and design with them the next steps — which could include coming up with ideas for courses, engaging people as tutors, building the website or something else altogether.A penny dropped as we all looked at each other in silence.

What are the next steps
What are the next steps

We concluded the session by documenting our LEGO Play day and organising a brainstorm for March 20th inviting anyone who has shown interest in the project so far and anyone else we can reach in the meantime.

We want to be true to the fundamental principles of openness and outreach on which we want the maker-space to be built — meaning; including the community from day one in designing and shaping the maker-space.

If you want to learn more about MakerSpace and share in our philosophy — we will be delighted to meet you on Friday 20th March  from 1:00pm to 2:00pm at the Royal Channel Islands Yacht Club (next to Red, above Da Bruno – NOT the yacht club at the Model Yacht Pond!)

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