Our First Meetups

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We publicly announced Asmbly at our first two meetups on January 12 and 20. The turnout was great with over 160 people attending - thank you for that show of support! It was a great time to ask questions, give us feedback and make connections. We posted a short survey during the meetups to gather community feedback on some important questions (e.g. where should Asmbly be located?). The survey will be live for another few weeks - please take the survey and let us know how Asmbly will best serve you.

One of the main goals of the meetups was to present the vision, structure, and next steps for Asmbly. We have included important, summarized points from the meetups below for those who were unable to attend.

We can’t wait to put the next event together (this time it will be mostly social, like a pint night), so stay tuned; we’ll announce the next shindig here soon. Let’s keep the community momentum going!

RECAP

What is this makerspace?

A makerspace is a place for creativity, collaboration, education and inclusivity. It’s like a gym, but instead of weight benches and treadmills, it has table saws and welding gear and laser cutters and more.

Doesn’t a makerspace like this already exist in Austin?

Austin is a big city; the 11th biggest in the USA. The metro area has ~2M people. And there are some great, specialty-focused creative spaces in Austin, but there isn’t a large, nonprofit, multi-discipline makerspace here yet.

We’ve done a lot of research on creative spaces in Austin, and looked high and low for an existing organization that was providing something close to our vision for Asmbly. Unfortunately, we didn’t find an existing organization, so we decided to start Asmbly.


What’s the vision for Asmbly?

These 4 elements are fundamental to Asmbly’s vision:

  • Makerspace
    space to create and collaborate

  • Community
    where novices and experts alike come together to share knowledge

  • Education
    quality classes taught by experienced instructors

  • Outreach
    Provide opportunities for community education and enrichment


How is Asmbly different from makerspaces in general?

The concept of a large, multi-specialty, nonprofit makerspace isn’t a something the founders of Asmbly invented (we wish we had!). Large, nonprofit makerspaces like Asmbly operate successfully all over the country (to name a few: Artisan’s Asylum outside of Boston, TxRx in Houston, Dallas Makerspace, Open Works in Baltimore), and we’ve engaged these organizations throughout the Asmbly design process. Asmbly will be a novel concept in Austin, but it’s a well-proven makerspace model that exists all over the country.


Where will it be located?

Location depends on geographic demand (fill out that survey!) and space availability. We’re looking for 10,000-15,000 square feet. We have been touring prospective spaces, so we’ll keep you updated.


What will it cost to join?

Our goal is to make pricing as affordable as possible for members of Asmbly. Final membership fees are dependent upon the determination of location, property size, and lease rates. Here’s a general idea of how Asmbly’s membership structure for both General Members and All Access Members might look:

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What kind of shops will you have?

First and foremost, we’ll have clean, organized, well-equipped and well-maintained shop areas. Hurrah!

We expect to add shops based on demand and this is what we are currently planning (specific models and brands of equipment are TBD, but feel free to email us with questions/feedback ):

  • Woodshop: everything you’d expect in a professional woodshop… Table Saw, Miter Saw, Band Saw, Jointer, Planer & more + Automated Dust Collection

  • Metal & Machining: extensively equipped, including MIG and TIG welding, metal blade chop saw, horizontal bandsaw, plasma torch, etc.)

  • Ceramics Studio: wheels, kiln, drying racks, damp closet, glaze storage

  • Jewelry Making: work stations equipped for everything from wire work to lost wax casting, soldering, etc.

  • Digital Fabrication: large format CNC router, Tormach, 1-2 laser cutters and several 3-D printers


Who will run this space?

As a board-driven nonprofit, we will have a Board of Directors with diverse backgrounds, talents and experiences. The BOD will solidify Asmbly’s mission and goals, fundraise, and vote on organizational decisions.

Employees will be key to managing the operations of Asmbly. Initially, there will be two paid employees: an Executive Director to work directly with the board to manage day-to-day functions of the nonprofit, and a Facilities Director to maintain equipment and facilitate shop operations. We will also have a paid cleaning crew to help us keep the space tidy.

But as a nonprofit we will need volunteers to help us make everything work. Volunteer opportunities include everything from serving as a shop champion (e.g. woodshop guru, CNC expert) to leading open house tours and shop orientation.


What makes this a nonprofit?

Asmbly exists to promote the arts and technology, as well as education of anything related to arts and/or technology. Education is central to Asmbly’s mission, and our education programming will include:

  • A variety of disciplines and skill levels

  • Regularly scheduled offerings

  • Classes with clearly stated objectives, curriculum, and prerequisites when applicable

  • Qualified, contracted instructors paid per class hour


What are Asmbly’s plans for community outreach?

We have a lot of ideas right now for community outreach projects, including skills and job training/placement for high schoolers and young adults, fabrication partnerships with artists and arts organizations, and programming for the underserved. We will seek grant funding for our community outreach projects.


How will all of this be funded?

Monthly member dues and class fees will cover Asmbly’s budget. But we need start up capital to purchase equipment, build-out a space, and more. The good news is that we have already identified ~ 50% our funding needs through private loans and donations.  We get the rest of the way to our goal primarily through tax deductible donations, additional private loans, and commercial loans issued by nonprofit lenders. Hopefully, most of that is through donations; when we don’t have to pay it back + pay interest, 100% of that money can go into Asmbly.


Will there be crowdfunding?

Yes! We will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for Asmbly soon. Crowdsourced funds are important, but just as important is the validation of community interest. Are people willing to pay to use this space?  We, as well as our private loan providers, want to ensure that the community is truly interested in a nonprofit makerspace as we have described.  Crowdfunding will allow us to pre-sell memberships at a discount as a reward for being part of the campaign. The more participation we have, the more evidence of community interest in making Asmbly happen.


When will all of this happen?

Here’s an overview of our timeline. We are nearly through with the first phase below.


How can I help this happen?

There are a couple of ways you can get involved and be a part of the community that makes this happen.

1) Spread the word & Give feedback

  • Sign up to receive updates on our site - right there on the homepage click on the “Stay updated” button

  • Please follow us on social media (check out our social buttons on the homepage)

  • Tell your friends

2) Be a part of our crowdfunding

  • Be on the lookout for funding opportunities. We’ll post here and on social.

  • Have an employer that might donate for business memberships?


3) Deeper Engagement

  • If you are interested in teaching, being a shop champion or other volunteer, email us at info@asmbly.org

  • Our plans for continuing engagement… pint nights, etc. Stay tuned here!

  • If you know people or businesses we should get in touch with, please let us know.