Why Making Matters

971980_10151973755784115_145808677_nHave you noticed how everyone’s been talking about makers lately? Last week at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, mythbuster and maker Adam Savage gave the keynote address (you can watch it here, but beware a few bits of salty language). Hardly a week goes by without 3d printers making the news — as a tool for improved plastic surgery, an all-in-one house builder, or even a maker of lifesaving surgical implants. As we found out a few months ago, even the White House wants to get in on the making game.

Obviously, we’re pretty excited when we see so much attention given to makers and making. But it’s worth stopping to remember the bigger picture: what does the “maker movement” do for us? Among many others, I see three main reasons why making matters:

  1. It reconnects art and science under the banner of creativity. As Adam Savage noted in his keynote, “Art and science have always been the twin engines pushing us forward as a species.” Only in recent years have we seen art and science as intellectual opposites. The more we can recognize them as creative endeavors, the more likely people will be to engage with them.
  2. It empowers individuals, especially kids, to pursue their creative instincts. Caine’s Arcade was big news last year, and this amazing creative project by a young boy certainly warranted the attention. On a smaller scale, we see this kind of pride in creativity at the Science Factory every time one of our visitors or campers yells, “Look what I made!” Families with children also join Eugene Maker Space in order to pursue their own building projects that a standard school curriculum wouldn’t allow. Kids who are encouraged in their creative pursuits are likely to continue them as adults.
  3. It has the power to change lives and communities for the better. A volunteer and member recently pointed me to this video about Kelvin Doe, a 15-year-old from Sierra Leone who builds electronics from recycled and reclaimed parts. This hobby led him to create his own low-power radio station for his community, a project that earned him a visit to MIT. Kelvin’s story is just one of many, many examples of makers who have improved their communities through their creativity and ingenuity.

What do you think? How does making matter to you? How does the maker movement improve the Eugene community? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! (And if you’re ready to show off what you’ve been making, don’t forget to get your application in to the Eugene Mini Maker Faire on June 7!)

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