The Department of Making + Doing, a hands-on civic innovation workshop located at 3711 Market Street, provides space, tools, and knowledge to empower youth, adults and community organizations to become makers and do great things in their communities. It is a collaboration of four maker-based organizations in the city: the Hacktory, Public Workshop, STEAM Initiatives and NextFab.
Last June, DM+D held its first community meeting as a way to help fellow makers find one another through a series of engagement initiatives.
“What came out of [the community meeting], more than anything, was kind of a realization that we really needed to focus a little more inwardly,” said Michael Darfler, DM+D’s program manager and currently the organization’s sole employee.
As a result of the meeting, Darfler said DM+D organized a group of power users — people who made significant contributions to the space — to the organizations and partners of DM+D. Since the community meeting, DM+D has hosted monthly meetings with the power user group.
“They’ve really helped us identify certain use problems, or means of improvement in the space,” he said, adding that they’ve also held cleanups of the DM+D space.
Darfler added that they’ll likely hold another community meeting in December, six months after the initial, to check-in with people and give them an update about the space.
Bringing Making to the Streets
DM+D received three grants in 2013 — one each from the Barra Foundation, Knight Foundation and ArtPlace America. Currently, its working on projects related to the grant from ArtPlace, which focuses on bringing making to the streets. As a result, DM+D has worked with teenagers and college students to create a mobile maker cart to take to the streets of Philadelphia.
The cart has already made appearances at the Lancaster Avenue Jazz Festival and the Lancaster Avenue Night Market, and it will make its next appearance as a Pop-Up Maker Station as part of Design Philadelphia on Saturday, October 11, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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“Over the course of the five hours we’ll really be transforming that space into something new, something exciting. Just getting people engaged in the design and building of that space itself,” said Darfler. “We don’t have a master plan, it’s really going to be dictated in a lot of ways by what people are excited about and what they’re interested in.”
In addition to the upcoming event, the next couple of months will also be focused on the grant received from ArtPlace and making sure that DM+D uses it to its full potential.
“The next couple of months are just going to be a big focus on ArtPlace and really making sure that as the grant winds down we are really able to get the most out of it and provide the most good for the community and for ArtPlace and for our organization,” said Darfler.
“I think we’re doing a good job, I think the big challenge for us moving ahead is making sure everyone else knows what we’re doing.”
Image c/o DM+D-30-
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