Makerspaces Stepping Up in the Fight Against COVID-19

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Both for-profit and nonprofit organizations alike are feeling the effects of COVID-19 in a significant way. But nonprofit organizations – especially those in the arts and education industry – are under extreme pressure to pivot and innovate or seek alternative funding in order to keep their organizations afloat.

(If you haven’t yet, check out our Social Good series highlighting Cleveland Nonprofits adapting their programming to continue making a difference in their communities during these uncertain times!)

Makerspaces Shifting Operations

Makerspaces, including those within libraries and schools, like many others, are being affected by the closures resulting from this pandemic. Some makerspaces have chosen to completely shut their doors, but others are remaining open with limited members-only access, in which cases they are still able to function with ongoing collection of member dues.

However, whether the physical doors remain open or shut may no longer be a barrier to makerspaces in the near future, as many spaces are starting to explore digital options which would allow them to offer revenue-generating programming virtually.

Moving classes to a digital platform, for example, is a great way for makerspaces to limit exposure and adhere to social distancing guidelines while still contributing to the public in a safe and crucial way. Remote conferencing through platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, and even Facebook Messenger allow for groups of all sizes to meet and interact socially, and can also be used by instructors and facilitators to deliver class material. Video conferencing allows users to see each other in a face-to-face setting, and devices can be set up strategically to allow instructors to view and provide feedback and instruction on projects that are occurring in real time.

In a time where our society needs creativity and authenticity most, virtual classes allow people to socialize and remain in contact despite the physical isolation, allow creativity to flourish, and promote innovative and effective tools for navigating this pandemic. Read here to see how one local nonprofit, Motogo, is leveraging technology and remote learning tools to deliver shop class to kids at home.

How Makerspaces Are Stepping Up

Although there is no semblance of “business as usual” right now, makerspaces are stepping up by doing a variety of things to establish a sense of, and enhance, the community – and these efforts are not going unnoticed. Schools with access to 3D printers are using them to create personal protective gear, including gloves, masks, and gowns, for various hospitals. Other non-school maker spaces are using their 3D printers in similar ways, working on creating more equipment that is needed by both healthcare professionals as well as the public. Some makerspaces are asking the community to come together and sew masks, while also providing instructions and advice on making hand sanitizer from scratch using the WHO method.

In Boston, Coca-Cola recently teamed up with MakeIt Labs to provide logistics and supply chain support in the mass-production and distribution of face shields to protect front-line hospital workers. Already, this effort has grown to include multiple 6,000-pound donations of plastic sheeting from EasyPak and Sonoco, and with the help of Coca-Cola’s donated delivery services, materials are being transported to Atlanta where Georgia Tech students will use the donated supplies to make over 50,000 plastic surgical shields for Atlanta healthcare workers.

Sangfroid Strategy helps organizations learn from where they’ve been, figure out where they want to go, and map out what they need to do to get there. We are experts when it comes to helping organizations build resiliency and move through difficult times and navigate complex situations.

Looking for a Makerspace to collaborate with in your area?

Check out our list of nationwide Makerspaces encouraging or facilitating the production of safety goods or spreading social good during these uncertain times. Do you know of a makerspace that should be on our list? Let us know!




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