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Can Closed Public Schools Become Makerspaces? (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year ago | from the many-brains-make-light-work dept.

Education 85

In August Phil Shapiro wrote an article that asked the question, Can 50 Closed Chicago Schools Become 50 Makerspaces? Now, in September, we have a ruminative interview with him about schools, makerspaces, and how making places where kids (and adults) can make things and generally tinker with tools and get used to the idea of working with their hands to create new things and to repair old ones. For many of us in previous generations, our "makerspace" was our garage or basement, and our mentor was Dad. Today, this doesn't seem to be the case in a lot of homes. Besides, working with others is safer than working alone, and even if we bowl alone there is no good social or biological reason for us to create alone -- especially if we have a congenial makerspace nearby.

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No (1)

sunking2 (521698) | about a year ago | (#44750523)

But they do make good crack houses and meth labs.

Re:No (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44750659)

Well, to be fair...in Chicago ( and likely in Detroit too), if the said Maker Spaces were used to make zip guns and the like, they might be useful for survival of those unlucky enough to be stuck there.

:(

Re:No (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44750685)

They would be better off with a drill-press. That way they could make a real zip-gun.

Re:No (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44750675)

Housing and laboratories! What an amazing way to address inner-city poverty and STEM education.

Crazy Talk (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about a year ago | (#44751315)

It would be insane of Chicago to let these buildings be used for Makerspaces. People might actually learn something there, even school age children, That must never happen in Chicago schools. Far better to serve the community as crack dens.

Betteridge Law of Headlines (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#44750547)

1. Can they? Of course.
2. Should they or will they? Maybe.

More to the point, has anyone actually demonstrated that "makerspaces" are an improvement over a standard school shop class or (for particularly motivated students) a public vocational school?

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44750749)

Well, makerspaces don't charge tuition, and don't cost the city nearly as much to keep open. There's certainly a lot of concrete value in formal training, but informal training can create more abstract value.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750853)

Makerspaces don't charge tuition? Most charge membership fees for their members, and they often charge something for classes. And it costs something to keep the lights and heat on, who will pay for that?

Chicago does have a free "maker" lab at its main public library, and they are creating more. Those are free/nominal fee to use.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

Rob Riggs (6418) | about a year ago | (#44752653)

Chicago does have a free "maker" lab at its main public library, and they are creating more. Those are free/nominal fee to use.

As a Chicago tax-payer, if the CPL maker space continues beyond it's $250K start-up grant, it will not be free to me. I should also add that I am a member of a Chicago maker space. Someone always pays; whether donors or taxpayers or members.

I'm all for putting maker spaces in high schools. We called them "shop class" when I went to school. (BTW, get off my lawn!)

I am not yet convinced a maker space belongs in a library.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44753195)

Who does pay for it though? No one should be wasted tax money to support this experiment. If you do want tax money, you'll get much farther by calling in "shop class" or "vocational training" instead of "makerspace" which is a hipster slang word that no one controlling tax dollars will understand. Otherwise it just sounds like a place for people to hang out.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44750833)

Exactly, other than Shop classes have a curriculum, and are expected to follow it, but makerspaces would have none, and whim could be followed.

The problem is insurance, and staffing, and plant maintenance.
No one is going to allow the use of a building owned by the city UNLESS all of those issues being addressed in dollars.
Just not going to happen.

It would be easier, and more productive to just adjust or expand the curriculum to include self-directed projects class, for which there is already broad support in the sciences especially for gifted Sheldon Cooper types. Simply extend this to industrial education classes in the existing facilities currently in use.

Don't expect anyone to open a facility shut down due to budget, or population, or physical plant problems. If they had the money to do that they wouldn't have closed them in the first place.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#44753383)

My high school shop was always open for personal projects befoee and after school, and one could go in during study halls or lunch so long as one didn't interfere w/ the current class.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751693)

Better questions:

1) does Chicago REALLY have demand for FIFTY "makerspaces"?
2) can we please cunt-punt the person who coined the term "makerspace"? It sounds so obnoxiously self-satisfied it makes me see red. Call it what it is: a "public" or "community" workshop / tool shop.

We don't call community gardens "growerspaces" and "weederspaces" and you don't call public parks "walkerspaces" and "loungerspaces", and you don't call bedrooms "sleeperspaces" and "fuckerspaces." WHY? Because all of those terms would sound completely fucking ridiculous - just like "makerspace" does.

Same reason nobody takes GNU and Gimp seriously - FOSStards don't know how to name anything, opting for cutesy names that they find amusing, instead of clear and pronounceable names that will help people understand what it is. You can do it with your idiotic software. You can't do it when you want the city government to turn over valuable real estate to your use.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44752365)

right on about the asinine term "makerspaces", but let's also get rid of "cunt-punt"

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44752619)

I'll happily give up cunt-punt just as soon as Slashdot gives up "makerspace" and "hackerspace."

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#44754247)

Same reason nobody takes GNU... seriously

Yep the userland running on possibly the majority of internet servers and the majority of supercomputers, not to mention numerous workstations and laptops around the planet. And the compiler used for a vast number of embedded devices.

Nope. No one takes one of the world's most dominant operating systems and toolchains seriously.

instead of clear and pronounceable names that will help people understand what it is.

So: GNU Image Maniuplation Program versus (from a variety of eras):

Excel, oracle, chrome, powerpoint, FoxPro, Lotus 123, VisualAge, Outlook, visual studio, Java, Acrobat, Flash, Shockwave.

For which of those is the function most obvious?

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44756499)

Oh, looks like I hit a nerve in someone's toucherspace! I'm entering some words in this texterspace so you can understand my point - which you apparently missed by a country mile. (Or a "wild estimatorspace," if you prefer the colloquial.)

Nobody but IT professionals give a shit about the GNU userland (that's the "typey-sysadminspace"), Java, FoxPro, Shockwave, Flash, Acrobat, or Visual Studio. The other tools are only known because their names are synonymous with their function, due to marketshare.

And the point was this: You can get away with retarded names in software land - because most people don't care about most of these tools - the audience is ONLY other software retards. When you want to move into a market where you have to interact with the public, cutesy idiotic made-up names are a bad business model.

I invite you to put that in your thinkerspace and chew on it for a while. Or in your pooperspace, if you prefer.

Re:Betteridge Law of Headlines (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44753247)

Shop classes aren't tested for with No Child Left Behind, so of course funding for them got cut.

Afterall, in the future everyone knows that no one will work with their hands, instead we'll all be computerized with tablets (apple only or else not approved by the schools). Only immigrants will need to know the skills for actually doing things other than updating facebook status.

the answer is no (4, Insightful)

cas2000 (148703) | about a year ago | (#44750549)

they didn't close the schools so that socialist anti-consumer degenerates could use them, they closed them so they could sell the land off cheap to developer mates.

Re:the answer is no (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44750643)

Yep, if there's one place property values are sure to soar, it's areas where the schools are crappy and underfunded. Chicago is suffering from the same suburban sprawl that chokes the tax money off of many U.S. cities.

Re:the answer is no (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44750701)

Yep, if there's one place property values are sure to soar, it's areas where the schools are crappy and underfunded. Chicago is suffering from the same suburban sprawl that chokes the tax money off of many U.S. cities.

Well, to be fair, the environment for cities like Chicago, with the corruption, bad school system and other factors, led those people with the means to wisely leave the city, lest their kids get caught up in gang, drugs, or just plain get killed as an innocent bystander....while also getting a substandard education.

Do you really blame people that have the means to move to a better environment for their homes and families for doing so?

Re:the answer is no (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44750727)

No, but I do blame the perverse incentives that create suburbs that will decay into a similar state of social disorder across a few decades, while generating other social costs along the way.

Re:the answer is no (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44750895)

No, but I do blame the perverse incentives that create suburbs that will decay into a similar state of social disorder across a few decades, while generating other social costs along the way.

Yes, because that can be foreseen so easily....

People do what they want.

And generally they don't want to live in dense highrise housing complexes planned by urban planners such as your self. These places become crime ridden and run-down in short order. So people move out. They buy a house that they can manage themselves, rather than begging the building supervisor to fix the plumbing.

So you get suburbs. The alternative is a concrete ghetto. How many times does society have to relearn that lesson before people with a plan stop trying to impose their own ideas on how others should live.

Re:the answer is no (1)

guruevi (827432) | about a year ago | (#44753315)

I live in a city where suburban sprawl happened a long time ago (maybe like 2 decades). The city and local companies are still giving incentives for families live in the suburbs (they would give a free grant for ~10% of the purchase price).

The result: all the suburbs have now become ghetto's and are getting worse, the police simply doesn't even patrol entire swaths of the suburbs because they are too large and out of fear for gang fights. The center of the city has gotten a lot more cleaned up and/or empty, mainly filled with high-class students and older people are slowly relocating out of their paid-off family homes to renovated apartments in what used to be 'the projects'

Re:the answer is no (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44751151)

No, but I do blame the perverse incentives that create suburbs that will decay into a similar state of social disorder across a few decades, while generating other social costs along the way.

What perverse incentives are you talking about?

I know there are quality of life issues, often more price friendly housing (especially at first), and it is nice to have a yard to enjoy, and not have to share a wall with neighbors, have pets enjoy a fenced in back yard, etc.

What's perverse about that?

Re:the answer is no (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a year ago | (#44751433)

Cities happened because that's where people congregated to make stuff, essentially. That is no longer the case or even necessary and people now want the open space our species grew up in. The only thing perverse about a city is that it *is* a hive and people don't like living in hives.

Oh, and the people that want to force others to live in hives.

Re:the answer is no (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44753231)

Well, every urban core has people fleeing it, not just chicago. Rich people don't live there, so there's no incentive to spend tax dollars there to keep it looking nice. Most of the time when you do spend money fixing up the urban core the poor people will complain about gentrification (which to be fair, is a valid concern because of all the hipsters who want to live downtown which raises the prices).

Re:the answer is no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750975)

Chicago is suffering from the same suburban sprawl that chokes the tax money off of many U.S. cities.

Well if you think people shouldn't be allowed to leave a city and take their skills and money with them, then build a wall like East Germany did to stop people from running away from their "obligations" to those less well off.

Re:the answer is no (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about a year ago | (#44751665)

Chicago is suffering from the same suburban sprawl that chokes the tax money off of many U.S. cities.

Well if you think people shouldn't be allowed to leave a city and take their skills and money with them, then build a wall like East Germany did to stop people from running away from their "obligations" to those less well off.

Where did he say people shouldn't be allowed to leave a city? He stated a fact (people leaving cities for suburbs hurt the cities' tax revenue), he didn't state an opinion whether that was a good or bad thing.

Re:the answer is no (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44752377)

Why don't you let people defend themselves ass wipe?

Re:the answer is no (1)

ogdenk (712300) | about a year ago | (#44752953)

Or they do what they did down the street and turn it into a mercenary training camp instead:

http://threatmanagementgroup.com/TMG/facilities-2/utc-urban-training-center-2/ [threatmana...tgroup.com]

That used to be the Bowman High School in Bowman, SC. Still has the Bowman High School lettering on the building.

Good questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750551)

Step 1: plaster over bullet holes in the walls...

Re:Good questions (3, Funny)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44750667)

Screw that, 3d print bullet hole plugs, each custom fit.

Bowling alone is fine... (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44750569)

...as long as you don't roll on Shabbos.

Re:Bowling alone is fine... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#44752257)

What's this day of rest shit? What's this bullshit? I don't fuckin' care!

No. (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44750573)

Not just Betteridge's law of headlines, but the idea of a place where any person can come and do whatever they want is anathema to the perception Americans have to a "public good". There's a quite unspoken undertone to a lot debate in the U.S. that reflects the perspective that things are either done in private or by employees for money. Public gathering places are few and far between, and not just because of fiscal concerns.

Now, with a spirited group of concerned citizens you can achieve a lot, as many charities demonstrate, but that represents support for maybe a couple such building renovations, not 50 school's worth.

Re:No. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44750655)

It's not as bad as a reductive CNC machine. But mis-programming a maker can trash it. You simply can't let everyone come and do whatever they want.

At very least you need one competent person and a virtual machine to do test runs.

Re:No. (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44750923)

Really?

The makers I know locally have nothing to do with virtual machines or computers. They make physical devices, some simple, some complex, many without a electrical part in the whole assembly. Your focus is too narrow.

Re:No. (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#44750999)

OP was referring more to the idea of a bunch of random ass people coming together and doing a project with little no training or expertise beforehand.

Glue some foam together? eh, no big deal, one armed blind guy could do it.
Worst case? Get to spend time time washing off your hands.

Woodworking? Get atleast a hobbyist in there who has spent some time building stuff and knows how to properly hold the tool.
Worst case? Cut off a part of your body. Damage still limited to yourself.

3D printing/Metalwork? OK now you need someone competent, the risk of mistakes means serious damage to properly and people.
Worst case? You puncture a gas tank and turn it into a flaming rocket which explodes.

Re:No. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#44751575)

Do a Google image search on 'Lathe accident'.

Now imagine the cost to insure a metal working lathe if you let anybody off the street use it for random projects, with no training requirements or supervision. Perhaps even drunk people...

Granting a 3d plastic extrusion printer is a few orders of magnitude safer. You can still crash the head into already printed space. I'm betting there are few blobs of plastic that used to be print heads out there now. How could you make one fatal? Contaminate the stock with mercury? It would take talent.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44752137)

I've got a MakerBot 2X and a pile of Arduino stuff collected over the years and I'd love to open a MakerSpace. I'd fund it and I can find others to fund it. I just don't know how to run it.
I know from experience (I opened and ran a commuity recreation center in the last century), the first kid through the door will have drugs. After him comes the guy who throws lit cigarettes in the wastebasket. After them comes the loudmouth who drives others away.
I can do it, but in the one hour no adult is present, the whole thing goes up in smoke...literally.
 

And Libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750607)

I've always felt that public libraries could provide the same service. With the rise of eBooks and things like Wikipedia, we clearly don't need such large public libraries anymore - so why not repurpose some of the space to hold physical tools. 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC milling machines and just regular stuff like drills and saws would provide a valuable educational resource for people needing work and perhaps becoming the entrepreneurs that will revive failing cities.

Re:And Libraries (1)

alexander_686 (957440) | about a year ago | (#44750779)

I don’t think that is happening. From what I have been reading library usage is up but the usage is changing.

Partly this is because people are using the library’s computers and internet access – mainly the poor and young who don’t have it at home. Partly this is people using the reservation system to borrow music, DVDs and books instead of buying them.

Re:And Libraries (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about a year ago | (#44751405)

I'd really like to see libraries that loan out high-end electronic equipment. For example, I could easily see myself using a C500 occasionally, but not often enough to justify buying that instead of a RAV4....

Re:And Libraries (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44750933)

The tragedy of the commons ring any bells?

Re:And Libraries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751391)

With the rise of eBooks and things like Wikipedia, we clearly don't need such large public libraries anymore

Where will poor people access eBooks and things like Wikipedia? email stations at public libraries usually have a waiting line.

Putting the cart before the horse. (1)

0m3gaMan (745008) | about a year ago | (#44750623)

In light of Chicago's more pressing problems, a proposal like this sounds a bit too optimistic.

Re:Putting the cart before the horse. (0)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year ago | (#44750715)

If it's just allowing use of existing buildings, I don't think it's a bad idea. Under the following logic:

if cost(thing)cost(debate(thing)):
        Just do it
else:
        Debate it

Now if they want city funds, that's a different matter.

Re:Putting the cart before the horse. (1)

Chas (5144) | about a year ago | (#44750889)

It isn't.

If those buildings are occupied, utilities have to be running (Power, water, heat/AC,etc).
That means firing up the physical plant on-premises.
Running that physical plant requires staff.
This being Chicago (A Good Union Town...), and for liability reasons, they're NOT going to turn over physical plant and grounds to A. Random Tenant.
That means union labor.
The utilities, salaries, insurance, etc all cost real money. And probably a LOT more than any makerspace tenant is going to be able to pay.
That means the city would have to foot the bill.

Which means it ain't happening. City Hall wouldn't give a shit HOW much it helped the local neighborhood out.

NO WAR FOR BIG OIL (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750629)

Children and civilians will be killed by the upcoming missile attack and in the past that never stopped Leftists and the world community from calling the POTUS who ordered the attack a war criminal who should be tried at the Hague.

Another question which will never be asked by the MFM (delenda est):

"Mr. Kerry, what is the President's plan if Russia, China, Iran, or some combination of those three decide to react with force- considering all three have issued harshly worded warnings against any US Intervention?"

This is why you never let liberals attempt to run foreign policy - they are all about party and not victory for the USA. They will manage to royally fuck this up and I feel so sorry for any US military person that may be caught in the cross-fire.

What's frightening is that the Obama foreign policy/military/intelligence brain trust doesn't have just one general who's dumb as a post. No, no, that would be manageable if there were actually a few smart people around to leaven the mix.

Instead, there's took-too-many-punches Dempsey, and there's also Secretary of State Mr. Ed The Talking Horse.

There's the perpetually befuddled Susan Rice ("I wasn't lying about Benghazi, I'm just professionally incompetent at my job.")

Coupled to Samantha ("Israel delenda est") Power, whose sole purpose in public life is a massive obsession with destroying the only country that is even remotely close to being an American ally in the Middle East.

There's James Clapper, who has now perjured himself so many times in front of the Congress that it's absolutely stunning they haven't formally held him in contempt.

There's James Brennan, who actually is out there on the record claiming, incredibly, that the fanatical jihadis of the Muslim Brotherhood are a "largely secular organization".

There's Tom Donilon the sleazeball Fannie Mae lobbyist/lawyer with absolutely no national security experience of any sort before being elevated to a top level national security post.

This entire car stuffed full of clowns is being overseen by The Won ("Hawaii is in Asia") and by his underboss Joey Choo-Choo.

Let's remember that Joey Choo-Choo was specifically selected by Obama for his "extensive foreign policy experience". Such as serving wine at diplomatic dinners to teetotalling legations of Muslim mullahs from Iran.

This won't end well. This can't POSSIBLY end well. This is the most inept and ignorant foreign policy team in the entire history of the nation. Giving them warmaking powers is like handing a three-year-old a grenade with the pin out.

Physically, yes. Beyond that, so many variables. (2)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#44750635)

Seems to me there's something wrong if you have 50 empty school buildings but the same number of available teachers and students (or more) than before you closed them. They do make great workspaces but, hey, even better schools in many cases... unless the school is so run down that it's more suited to being a practice space for local bands.

Re:Physically, yes. Beyond that, so many variables (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751375)

Seems to me there's something wrong if you have 50 empty school buildings but the same number of available teachers and students (or more) than before you closed them. They do make great workspaces but, hey, even better schools in many cases... unless the school is so run down that it's more suited to being a practice space for local bands.

Don't worry. The murder rate in Chicago and all the teachers they fired balanced things out quite well.

Re:Physically, yes. Beyond that, so many variables (2)

mcl630 (1839996) | about a year ago | (#44751767)

The population of Chicago has been declining for decades, meaning fewer students to fill the schools. That, combined with "No Child Left Behind"'s (unfunded) mandate to fix or close failing schools, combined with falling property values (meaning less property taxes to fund the school district) has led to the massive closures. Those buildings really aren't needed as schools, they have plenty of space for the smaller student population in the remaining schools.

Re:Physically, yes. Beyond that, so many variables (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#44752279)

Nowhere near the same number of students in the system. Same as in Detroit, Baltimore, etc. It's absurd to have the same number of physical buildings and mid to upper level managers for 50,000 students as for 100,000 students.

Re:Physically, yes. Beyond that, so many variables (2)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44753069)

Seems to me there's something wrong if you have 50 empty school buildings but the same number of available teachers and students (or more) than before you closed them. They do make great workspaces but, hey, even better schools in many cases... unless the school is so run down that it's more suited to being a practice space for local bands.

They have the same number of teachers, but not all of them are good teachers. The union walked off the job last year in protest of standardized testing, and rating teachers on their ability to actually teach children so that they can pass the tests; these are things that hurt bad teachers, and not so much good teachers,

Now obviously, part of the problem is mainstreaming children who are ineducable, either through no fault of their own, or because they could care less about learning; such children should go into remedial programs until they can be mainstreamed with certainty, and the teachers involved in teaching them shouldn't be penalized for the performance of kids we already know to be poor students: equality of opportunity is not the same thing as equality of ability, or equality of outcome.

Additionally, the Chicago Teacher's Union is claiming classroom overcrowding, which you could maybe buy if Utah weren't running 35 student class sizes, and have been since I was in elementary school in the 1970's, or their students weren't doing well on the standardized tests in a way that was attributable to class size. So it looks like what the district is doing is cutting dead wood.

Yeah, it's sad that those teachers couldn't teach very well, so they don't have jobs any more, but it's about as sad as trying to convert the under-enrolled schools, which no parent wants to send their children to because they won't get taught, being turned in blue collar training camps for blue collar jobs that aren't going to be there for the kids once they leave the makerspace. You're not going to get your machinists union journeyman card hanging out in a makerspace without a multi-year apprenticeship. Guess how many participants are currently in Seattle Machinists Apprentice program (you know, Seattle, where Boeing is located)? 34. Guess how many hours you have to put in to become a journeyman? 7,424. That's almost 4 years.

Blue collar jobs are not coming back any time soon. Unless you see the U.S. implementing trade tariffs in the near future so that it costs the same to buy something manufactured in a country that doesn't enforce environmental laws, making it a lot cheaper to buy labor there than in the U.S.? I didn't think so.

While A Good Ideal (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about a year ago | (#44750665)

I think the liability aspect of it being a public facility would prohibit it's use as a makerspace.

Ugh, awful word (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750707)

'Makerspace' sounds like something that's been hijacked by corporate interests or sociology majors - not people who actually like building stuff.

Re:Ugh, awful word (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751717)

Reminds me of the word "makeoutplace"

funding (1)

confused one (671304) | about a year ago | (#44750741)

One of the reason they closed the schools and consolidated was lack of funding. What makes anyone think that the city will want to pay to keep the building open?

Re:funding (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year ago | (#44751029)

Many such spaces are privately funded and lease the building.
They attract dues paying members via available services and classes.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/09/ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750809)

One of the many unintended consequences of the political crusade for increased homeownership among minorities, and low-income people in general, has been a housing boom and bust that left many foreclosed homes that had to be rented, because there were no longer enough qualified buyers.

The repercussions did not stop there. Many homeowners have discovered that when renters replace homeowners as their neighbors, the neighborhood as a whole can suffer.

The physical upkeep of the neighborhood, on which everyone's home values depend, tends to decline. "Who's going to paint the outside of a rented house?" one resident was quoted as saying in a recent New York Times story.

Renters also tend to be of a lower socioeconomic level than homeowners. They are also less likely to join neighborhood groups, including neighborhood watches to keep an eye out for crime. In some cases, renters have introduced unsavory or illegal activities into family-oriented communities of homeowners that had not had such activities before.

None of this should be surprising. Individuals and groups of all sorts have always differed from one another in many ways, throughout centuries of history and in countries around the world. Left to themselves, people tend to sort themselves out into communities of like-minded neighbors.

This has been so obvious that only the intelligentsia could misconstrue it -- and only ideologues could devote themselves to crusading against people's efforts to live and associate with other people who share their values and habits.

Quite aside from the question of whose values and habits may be better is the question of the effects of people living cheek by jowl with other people who put very different values on noise, politeness, education and other things that make for good or bad relations between neighbors. People with children to protect are especially concerned about who lives next door or down the street.

But such mundane matters often get brushed aside by ideological crusaders out to change the world to fit their own vision. When the world fails to conform to their vision, then it seems obvious to the ideologues that it is the world that is wrong, not that their vision is uninformed or unrealistic.

One of the political consequences of such attitudes is the current crusade of Attorney General Eric Holder to force various communities to become more "inclusive" in terms of which races and classes of people they contain.

Undaunted by a long history of disasters when third parties try to mix and match people, or prescribe what kind of housing is best, they act as if this time it has to work.

It doesn't matter how many government housing projects that began with lofty rhetoric and heady visions have ended with these expensive projects being demolished with explosives, in the wake of social catastrophes that made these places unlivable.

To those with the crusading mentality, failure only means that they should try, try again -- at other people's expense, including not only the taxpayers but also those who lives have been disrupted, or even made miserable and dangerous, by previous bright ideas of third parties who pay no price for being wrong.

This headstrong dogmatism and grab for power is not confined to housing. Attorney General Holder is also taking legal action against the state of Louisiana for having so many charter schools, on grounds that these schools do not mix and match the races the way that public schools are supposed to.

The fact that those charter schools which are successful in educating low-income and minority students that the public schools fail to educate are giving these youngsters a shot at a decent life that they are not likely to get elsewhere does not deter the ideological crusaders.

Nor does it deter the politicians who are serving the interests of the teachers' unions, who see public schools as places to provide jobs for their members, even if that means a poor education and poor prospects in life for generations of minority students.

All this ideological self-indulgence and cynical political activity is washed down with lofty rhetoric about "compassion," "inclusion" and the like.

Bigger question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750825)

Can Detroit become Makerspace?

It used to be.

Watershed in Portland (3, Informative)

astro (20275) | about a year ago | (#44750847)

There is an awesome, long running "Makerspace" in Portland, Oregon, that was formerly a public vocational school. http://watershedpdx.com/ - but it takes individual and collective will and effort for such a thing to happen. They shouldn't just be handed out by the state.

How 'bout "no"? (5, Informative)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about a year ago | (#44750861)

>> Can 50 Closed Chicago Schools Become 50 Makerspaces?

Here's a list of the schools closed and their capacities:
http://graphics.chicagotribune.com/school_utilization/ [chicagotribune.com]

These aren't small buildings. Most are elementary schools. Many are in neighborhoods where you'd want tools and other equipment with "street value" locked up behind more than the average school door.

A better idea would be find "maker" space in light industrial parks. I'll bet there's plenty of that kind of unused space in those neighborhoods too.

Re:How 'bout "no"? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44753241)

Yes, this is a good idea. There are many unused buildings in industrial parks because of the recession. Even when the recession is receding there's a bizarre trend to build new buildings instead of reoccupying old buildings (this may be a silicon valley thing, where a new building means more prestige).

Re:How 'bout "no"? (1)

Splab (574204) | about a year ago | (#44755779)

It's more likely a new building is cheaper than trying to bring an old building up to code.

Re:How 'bout "no"? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year ago | (#44755347)

Not being small buildings, that's a feature. Don't just make them into maker spaces. These are large lots, they have room for parking. Make them into maker spaces and shops. Make stuff in the maker space, take it next door and sell it. If you've got multiple floors to work with, maybe even put residences on-site. Improve the physical security. Turn sports fields into farmlands.

A better idea would be find "maker" space in light industrial parks. I'll bet there's plenty of that kind of unused space in those neighborhoods too.

Light industrial parks have all the same problems as these schools, plus they're often polluted with toxics (especially in places which have been zoned industrial for many decades.) But that's also a good idea.

great concept (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#44750871)

That's entirely too good an idea to have any possibility of success.

Two issues I can think of: (1) Funding (if they can't fund schools, how are they going to fund this?) and (2) liability, (who's at fault when little Tommy saws his fingers off) which in a way I guess also comes down to funding.

I think part of the funding might come from (dons steel helmet) um, corporations. For instance, a makerspace in Michigan might be funded and supplied by Ford. In Chicago, who would participate? I suspect there is a lot of room for jokes here...

Re:great concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751359)

In Chicago, who would participate?

Abe Froman [youtube.com] , of course!

But... but... what about guns? (2)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#44750885)

There's no way they'll allow these unlawful felons to set up firearms factories in schools.

Re:But... but... what about guns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751455)

Worse than that, some religious anarchist might 3D print a Crucifix or make a wooden Star of David. In a (former) Public School! Can't HAVE that! It might offend an athiest! Call the thought police! Stop this now before its too late!

Re:But... but... what about guns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44752093)

Kill yourself.

Re:But... but... what about guns? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about a year ago | (#44753151)

Bah, wouldn't happen anyway - remember, they have strong gun control laws and schools are gun free zones! Who could think of violating those laws?

Music... (1)

heezer7 (708308) | about a year ago | (#44750905)

Why did that need background music?

No problem (1)

stox (131684) | about a year ago | (#44750907)

after a large enough donation to the Mayor's campaign fund.

No - old schools are closed for a reason (4, Informative)

Jjeff1 (636051) | about a year ago | (#44750951)

Old schools are generally closed for a reason. Declining attendance comes hand in hand with reduced tax roll, which means less money for maintenance. Even a relatively new school building needs a lot of maintenance. But usually, they're closing OLD schools that require roofs and countless other maintenance items. Asbestos, giant boilers that don't pass safety inspections, etc... I've done work in a school that still has a significant amount of coal sitting in the basement.
Remember these buildings aren't just a big version of your house. You might wire up a new outlet in your house, but you probably don't have the tools or know-how to core 2 foot thick concrete walls or work with 440 volt feeder lines, pneumatically actuated steam radiators or commercial fire alarm systems.

Hacker space culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44752505)

you probably don't have the tools or know-how to core 2 foot thick concrete walls or work with 440 volt feeder lines, pneumatically actuated steam radiators or commercial fire alarm systems.

Hacker/maker culture is in love with things like this. Electricians, plumbers, engineers, retired very knowledgeable persons, and those that are willing to spend the money, time, and effort to do these sorts of things are the people that we are talking about. For them, learning how to do things and passing on what they already know is fun defined.

Tell one of them that they probably can't do something, know something, or have to tools to do something, and they take it as an exciting challenge.

Creating Alone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44750969)

"there is no good social or biological reason for us to create alone"

I could not help but get a little hung up on this statement. I have found undeniable benefit in my social life as well as my physicality in the past by delving deep into the creative process un solo. I find this work to be the most fulfilling for me as a musician and builder of tings. I don't believe this statement to carry weight.

Shows me the Money (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year ago | (#44751069)

The floor space cost is just a pittance of what it takes to get a "makerspace" up and running.

Show me the project spreadsheet. You can easily go beyond $1 million in equipment without even trying.

Better ideas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751211)

I hate to trash this utopian vision of an urban hipster future where open spaces become public access man-caves, but aren't there better uses for our publicly funded heritage?

Just a few alternative uses off the top of my head:
Homeless shelters
Drug rehabilitation centers
Orphanages
Demolished and replaced with parks or green spaces
Neighborhood libraries
Community centers

Is a maker space really that important? Are there any cases in which the public good brought about by a maker space made a positive difference to a neighborhood?

Re:Better ideas (1)

donaggie03 (769758) | about a year ago | (#44752029)

Considering there's 50 available spaces, it sounds like the people of Chicago could benefit from multiple of each of your suggestions. Why does it have to be an either/or situation?

high operation overhead (1)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#44751239)

Cleaning, adminstration, maintenance, safety. The older schools, which were probably the ones closed, were not deigned for modular(partial) use.

Sniffs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751595)

Wait, so Dad will be at these schools... I never had one of those

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44751663)

5 maybe 10, not 50.
You need to think about the market possibilities, you don't start something with 50 outlets. You take 1-3 and expand as needed.

Why wouldn't you create alone??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44755195)

This has got to be the most presumptuous and juvenile summary on /. yet. Good gravy people, is there a QC filter around here????

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