WINDSOR, N.S. — The innovative minds behind Makers are hoping their social enterprise will capture the imagination of Hants County residents.
Makers is marketed as “a place where the community can make, learn, teach, tinker, gather, collaborate, share, innovate, socialize, build, create, buy and sell.”
It’s a venue that strongly encourages the sharing of skills.
Co-founders Catherine Jamieson and Kathy Monroe officially opened Makers April 28. There was a steady stream of visitors checking out the new venture.
“People sharing knowledge and exchanging knowledge-based information is a really unique type of human interaction and it's one of the few things that we have left in our world that's often done freely... because they're sharing their passion,” said Jamieson while people buzzed about the Makers space on Gerrish Street.
Although there is a membership fee involved, Jamieson said what the community gets in return far exceeds the cost.
“For me, this is a community endeavour that uses the arts or creativity as kind of a way back (to being social). It's the train we're riding in on but the idea is to create a social shift,” said Jamieson.
“People don't talk enough; they don't share information enough; they won't teach you anything unless you give them a few bucks. It's very transactional,” she added.
While paying for goods and services is the way of the world, Jamieson said it's nice to be able to go back to the basics and help one another again.
“It used to be you learned knitting from your grandma, now you pay someone $12 an hour to teach you. I think we need to get more back to learning from our grandmas and if we can't learn from our real grandmas, we should go to Makers and learn from someone else's grandma who is willing to teach,” said Jamieson.
“That's not to say knowledge doesn't have value and you shouldn't pay for it. It just means that it shouldn't be the sole reason why we pass it on.”
Several community volunteers are already involved in Makers and are eager to see the non-profit thrive.
Artist Kate Vasyliw moved to Summerville from Ontario last September with her husband and fellow painter Ray Kohn. When they learned about Makers opening up, they knew they had to get involved.
“We were looking to find an arts organization to get involved in and when we heard about Makers we thought, 'that's fantastic.' To have something like this in Windsor is so phenomenal,” said Vasyliw.
The couple will be hosting Tuesday paint nights at Makers.
“I think it's an evening just to have some camaraderie and to meet other artists. So it's going to be a mixed bag,” said Vasyliw, who said all skill levels are welcome to attend.
Janet Lunn, who was sitting on one of the comfy couches crocheting during the grand opening, will be hosting Knitflix on Tuesday nights as well.
“So Knitflix, despite the name, doesn't always have to be knitting. I'm probably going to be crocheting,” said Lunn. “It's for anybody that has some small handicrafts... they come, watch a movie, and be social with some other handicrafters.”
Lunn said she received a fair bit of interest during the grand opening from members of the general public.
“I've had everything from teenagers to retirees sign up. I think it's going to be interesting seeing the demographic of it,” said Lunn, noting Makers helps to transform generally solo activities into social ones.
Lunn describes Makers as 'mind-blowing.'
“It's amazing. The amount of talent here is beyond what I had any idea. I know I'm going to be taking some classes if I can and the volunteers have put in so many hours. This space is absolutely amazing,” said Lunn.
There's “just a little bit of something for everybody and I'm really looking forward to just having a place to socialize with other people who share the same interests in crafting.”
There will be a full schedule of regular activities for members — everything from game nights and book clubs to study groups, workshops, and demonstrations. There will also be special events, like book readings, wine tastings and live entertainment.
Members are permitted to use any available space, tools and in-house materials/supplies for self directed activities whenever they like.
Jamieson said Windsor is the perfect spot for the new venture and said most small towns could benefit from something similar.
“Small towns are very, very unique and you need very unique solutions for them,” said Jamieson, adding the construct wouldn't necessarily work in large urban areas like Halifax, Toronto, or Montreal.
Unlike traditional maker spaces, Makers doesn't solely focus on sharing tools and resources. It incorporates a more social aspect.
“I see this as the way that the future unfolds for small towns, small rural communities. We have to get back to town halls. We have to get back to having places where people can go just to go,” said Jamieson.
“We're kind of a little bit trying to be a jack of all trades and hopefully we won't end up being the master of none.”
Jamieson said she was “extremely gratified, humbled” by the outpouring of community support when Makers opened its doors.
She said now they need memberships in order to keep those doors open.
“This is a test of the community. It will either support it and it will stay or it won't and it will go. Hopefully the community is wise enough to understand the value of something like this,” she said.
If you go
Makers is located in Windsor at 21 Gerrish St. and is open daily.
The privately-funded enterprise can be reached at 902-472-2600, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Makers space contains a retail store and areas in which members may engage in artisan and leisure activities.
Membership is $100 annually for an individual; $160 for a family of four. Individual day passes can be purchased for $5.
To learn more about Makers and what they offer, visit: www.makerswindsor.com.