MakerTour adventure is an expedition towards 50 fablabs and other models of workshops in France and Europe. A six-month immersion (from October 2015 until March 2016) to explore, document and share the diversity of labs initiatives and practices to the greatest number. And our way to take part in a better understanding and appropriation of the maker movement and its places.
Thirds places, fablabs, makerspaces, hackerspaces, Techshops or even biohackermakerspaces.. There are everywhere, everyone talks about these new workshops, they pop up in city halls, at the corner of your street, from primary schools to universities, even within great companies like Ford, Airbus or Renault. The press talks about the subject, and everyone is getting confused. How not to get lost in this profusion of initiatives and practices?
The FabLab concept was born within the walls of the MIT in Boston in the late 90s, by the work and passion of Prof. Neil Gershenfeld. A fablab is the digital evolution of old times workshops, run with a sharing, openness and collaboration mind. It is a place open to all, making the idea-to-object process easier than ever thanks to a great community, digital machines and tools, and a "learning by doing" methodology. The fablab is also part of a local ecosystem and a global network of fablabs around the world.
Do-it-Yourself, Do-It-With-Others, learning by doing, open innovation, free and open source, documentation, iteration, these communities and places developed their own vocabulary and langage, not always understandable by the masses.
What really is happening in these labs where collaboration, sharing spirit are golden rules? Are they just a digital evolution of old times workshop or is the revolution deeper? Why do these labs captivate such a great diversity of actors all around the world? Who is concerned? What can you make there? Who is using them? Where can you find them?
And MakerTour's mission is to bring answers to everyone!
We are Etienne and Mathieu, two young guys fond of hiking, freshly graduated and members of MakerTour expedition! MakerTour came to life after we discovered the fablab and makers universe in the Programme I.D.E.A. (our university). The Programme's fablab, beyond embodying the pluridisciplinarity pedagogy, became quickly the epicenter for all our projects, both educational and personal.
The adventure became in September 2014. At that time, we wanted to draw up an overview of fablabs and fabrication workshops in France. Even though papers and works on the subject had already been published, they needed to be pursued. The task would be tedious as we could not rely only on the information available on the web.
In January 2015, we hit the road to meet different models of fablabs, inspired by the work of Fabien Eychenne and François Bottolier-Depois on the subject :
# the educational fablabs
# the associative fablabs
# the company-oriented fablabs
This first expedition lead us from Lyon to Amsterdam, through Lille, Rotterdam, Amiens, Dijon and Biarne, towards 7 places and 30 actors such as Peter Troxler, the Bri'Co'Lab, iFabrica, La Machinerie, Net-Iki or Kelle Fabrik. It was an intense and extremely rich experience, we met incredible people running fantastic initiatives!
# 1st observation: the places visited share common issues (documentation, funding, community animation, etc.)
# 2nd observation: unifying tools/projects must come to life to facilitate both local/global network development and good practices sharing!
Back in Lyon (south of France), we clearly understood the impact of the "labs exploration" concept and the value of taking it further. Lifting the veil on the subtleties between the models and practices is a necessity, along with creating and facilitating the information production and communication. One idea came: reproducing the "fablab tour" experience, methodically documented, on the French and European territory.
We then created the non-profit organisation MakerTour and presented the idea to the communities, mostly during the Fablab Festival (in May 2015 in Toulouse, France), on the mailing-lists, or in front of the companies members of non-profit organisation Fab&Co.
# To take part in the democratisation of the movement and give everyone the curiosity to come to these labs
# To document the diversity of models/practices and facilitate their spread on the territory
# To spread the good practices and create connections
Today, MakerTour launches an expedition towards 50 fablabs and makerspaces in France & Europe starting on October, 17 2015 until march 2016.
# 6 months on the road, around 50 labs documented and around a hundred fabmanagers/users interviews to be found on amazing-player.eu (French participative media about third-places)
# 6 thematics to be detailed to bring tangible answers to the fablabs' economic, social and environmental issues
MakerTour is a non-profit organisation, around a dozen partners, 2 passionated and ultra motivated guys, eager to meet and share these places and people!
For this first version, the MakerTour expedition will explore the French territory (40 labs) and remarkable initiatives on the European territory (10 labs). The exploration will be divided in 3 great phases:
* Other cities may be added to our list under construction, depending on the budget collected with the crowdfunding campaign!
Today, MakerTour non- is made of 5 active members:
Marie Baron, Programme I.D.E.A. graduate, designer and president of MakerTour.
Samuel Javelle, product designer, fabmanager, Programme I.D.E.A. and secretary-general of MakerTour.
Rémi Berger, Programme I.D.E.A. graduate, entrepreneur and treasurer of MakerTour.
Etienne Moreau et Mathieu Geiler, Programme I.D.E.A. graduates, the two labs explorers of MakerTour.
They help us everyday to give life to this project, they guide us through our researches, share our thoughts, open their doors and networks to us, became friends, examples, and supports. Without them, we would not be here, and we would like to thank them all!
The adventure goes on today with all of you! Together only we can turn this experience into a powerful tool to inspire the world!
Our partners see in MakerTour a mean to take part in the good practices sharing by documenting their own lab and learning from the rest of the community. Beyond the documentation, the project is a tool to find landmarks, information on the movement, create connections. Thanks to their commitment to the project and their implication in MakerTour initiative, we have gathered an important part of the budget required to start the expedition (15.000 €).