News

Mansfield Makerspace fosters creative idea-sharing across generations

March 10, 2017
by Angela Cirone, Richland Source Correspondent

MANSFIELD -- Nathan Gross is a professional matchmaker who plays matchmaker for friends and acquaintances throughout the region.The lifelong Mansfield resident launched Mansfield Makerspace to inspire collaboration among artists, engineers, craftsmen, machinists and techies. Close 1 of 4 Buy Now Mansfield Makerspace members toured Miller Metals Manufacturing for the October, 2016 meetup (Submitted Photo) The August 2016 Makerspace Meetup included indoor and outdoor household tips at a private residence. (Submitted Photos) Buy Now Nathan Gross founded the nonprofit Mansfield Makerspace to cultivate a community of creative makers. (Photo by Angela Cirone) Buy Now Mansfield Makerspace Founder Nathan Gross reviews his notes about the nonprofit's March programs. (Photo by Angela Cirone) prevnext

Mansfield Makerspace Photos Buy Now Mansfield Makerspace members toured Miller Metals Manufacturing for the October, 2016 meetup (Submitted Photo) The August 2016 Makerspace Meetup included indoor and outdoor household tips at a private residence. (Submitted Photos) Buy Now Nathan Gross founded the nonprofit Mansfield Makerspace to cultivate a community of creative makers. (Photo by Angela Cirone) Buy Now Mansfield Makerspace Founder Nathan Gross reviews his notes about the nonprofit's March programs. (Photo by Angela Cirone)prevnext

“I see the Mansfield Makerspace as an entrepreneurial womb where great ideas and sources come together,” Gross said.A self-proclaimed tinkerer, Gross found himself working on projects in a converted space on his property. After listening to an episode of The Survival Podcast about the perks of entrepreneurship, he was inspired. He wanted to establish a creative community in which members share ideas and resources instead of remaining isolated.“There is resurgence in craftsmanship that you are seeing around these spaces,” Gross said.Most group members, or makers, are younger than 40 and relatively inexperienced. However, expert craftsmen have engaged in the entrepreneurial community as well. It's important to Gross that the community remains intergenerational.“It is a younger community, but there are seasoned craftsman that I see as valuable assets,” he said.The community teaches the skills that used to be transferred from generation to generation in families and through apprenticeships.“If you don’t have someplace like this to dip your toes in the water, how do you know if you want to go on and earn a certification or advanced training?” he asked. “It’s wisdom-from-the-elders meets a thirst-for-knowledge from the young people.”To gain vision, Gross toured the Columbus Idea Foundry in the Franklinton Arts District. He saw firsthand how this creative community offers classes, events and coworking space for entrepreneurs, designers, craftsmen, artisans and artists. CEO Alex Bandar advised Gross on how to launch a similar community for Mansfield and provides ongoing guidance to Gross and Makerspace board members.A Sept. 17, 2015 Columbus Alive article puts the impact of Columbus Idea Foundry into perspective. From 2010 to 2015, the Franklinton Arts District transformed from a community plagued by drug addiction and prostitution into a premiere destination for artists-in-residence. Restaurants, idea businesses and galleries line the blocks, but the Columbus Idea Foundry anchors the district.“It is a shining example of what good planning and community building can do to bring that whole movement to the forefront of revitalizing an area,” Gross said.Gross intentionally designed Mansfield Makerspace with the needs and culture of north central Ohio in mind. With an existing artist community, it's a natural fit.“Around here, the consensus seems to be that it’s time that Mansfield has gotten on board with this trend that has swept major metropolitan areas,” Gross said.Mansfield Makerspace is in the first phase of its development with two types of opportunities for engagement. Monthly meetups began two years ago allowing attendees to network in a social environment. Structured workshops began in fall 2016. They give participants a chance to gain new skills or knowledge. With 10-20 attendees, both meetups and workshops take place at local businesses or Braintree Business Development Center.Makerspace Board Secretary and Dojo Comics owner Luke Beekman planned March’s combined meetup and workshop. Participants met over the weekend at Main Street Books to mingle, and then moved on to Dojo Comics to discuss the skillsets needed for local self-publishing.Interested community members can register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/makerspace-self-publish-pub-workshop-series-tickets-31438552557“I am looking forward to giving people of all ages have an opportunity to self-publish their work,” Beekman said.Beekman believes the Makerspace community will help address the skills gap in Richland County. He thinks hand-on skills such as woodworking and welding are important.“We kind of live in a society that is disposable. In the process of making things really high-tech, there is also a certain amount that has been lost.”Between physical gatherings, makers network on a public Facebook group that is 316 members strong. Gross acquaints himself with event attendees and enjoys connecting them with others in the network.

“It is a natural fit for me,” Gross said. “There are people with needs, and there are a lot of craftsmen holed away in workshops. Bringing the two together is the real magic of the Makerspace community.”Gross credits his five board members with moving Makerspace to the point of launching workshops. “They are committed to the mission and willing to donate their time,” he said.Gross plans to enter the next phase of Mansfield Makerspace by December 2017 with a permanent presence in Downtown Mansfield. He envisions converting a storefront to a comfortable work space with couches and computers. Makers will be able to gather for lessons in design.As a 509a2 nonprofit organization, Makerspace will get complimentary CAD software licenses. Gross is working to establish a partnership with North Central State College that will allow a maker with a prototype to use the Kehoe Center’s Fab Lab.Gross is in the process of working with the Mansfield Arts Center on a series of workshops especially for makers. Midwest Aircraft Products Company has also offered its resources.“We don’t have a place in this community where you can take your great idea, get it into a computer and run through prototyping,” Gross said. “We can provide these resources for the community and continue offering workshops.”Mansfield Makers’ nonprofit status will also allow it to accept in-kind and monetary donations. Gross hopes local businesses and individuals will consider donating equipment after they upgrade.“Once we have a well-defined need, we would like to start exploring grant opportunities in this community,” Gross said.Long-term, Gross would like to see Mansfield Makerspace move into a large space with a community workshop area. It would act as centralized hub for makers. Gross will approach the goal slowly and maintain existing partnerships.Gross has polished his leadership and public speaking skills through Mansfield Makerspace - skills he plans to use in launching a tree service business with his brother. He appreciates the experience he gains by networking with his community.“It’s been great experience in getting outside my comfort zone,” Gross said. “It’s a network-building experience I could not have replaced.”

Source: Mansfield Makerspace fosters creative idea-sharing across generations URL: http://www.richlandsource.com/news/mansfield-makerspace-fosters-creative-idea-sharing-across-generations/article_d7735906-0279-11e7-9ff0-039748ab39fb.html