Monday, September 2, 2013

Ariel Levi Simons On Behalf of LA Makerspace Interview

LA Makerspace, what is it? If you're interested in hacking, engineering or just plain science look no further. Community of people who like Make Magazine and those who want to build robots there's a new place for you.

Ariel Levi Simons co-founder of LA Makerspace was nice enough to answer a few of my questions about the organization, what they do and where they're going.

Ariel could you state your position in LA Makerspace and what you do in your position?
I'm one of the founding members of LA Makerspace.  My big focus in getting the space started was to have a community lab space and tool shop for students in Los Angeles to work together, and with outside research groups, in order to help connect them to the world of research.  This is all run under the banner of our citizen science program, and we have worked with four high schools and research groups affiliated with such institutions as the Natural History Museum and Safecast (An environmental monitoring group.).
When did your organization come about and was it from a Kickstarter? Sorry, I missed it.
Our organization formed in May of 2012 from a group of people who were already active in the hacker community, but who wanted to make a space which was also accessible to a younger crowd of future engineers, artists, and tinkerers.  Generally, hackerspaces have memberships which are restricted to adults, and the goal of LA Makerspace was have a space which went beyond those norms.
The Kickstarter campaign came about at the end of 2012 in order to purchase our big ticket items, such as a laser cutter some 3-D printers, as well as bring on dedicated staff to help run the space.
What does the group do currently? It's for kids and adults?
LA Makerspace is for people of all ages.  We have a number of classes, workshops, and events which go on in the space. We've done everything from wearable tech to molecular gastronomy.  On a more regular basis we have classes on programming, such as with Scratch and Arduino, our citizen science workshop, where we share out our current work in the scientific community, and our Evil Genius workshop, where we work on robotics projects towards our longer term goal of world domination.
I was just at LA Mart for Scare LA, I didn't see anything about LA Makerspace when I was there. Was one reason leaving due to the low visibility of the place. With so many Kickstarters in LA I suggest banning together and finding a place here in the city, sort of a Kickstarter district, where all the Kickstarters can grow and welcome each other.
If we can get some super cheap live/work space it would be great to make a Kickstarter district for Los Angeles.  Kind of like the Brewery, but with more of a Mad Max feel.
One of the reasons, yes, for leaving LA Mart was the low visibility of our space.  We are looking to relocate to a space which would be much more directly accessible to foot traffic.  We would actually like to set up in a library space somewhere along the Metro in Los Angeles for that reason.
Badges! I want those stinking badges! What with the Make Badges?
This is all part of our quest to help with the gameification of all human existence.  One of the cool things about working in a hackerspace is picking up new skills and, in the process, sharing and showing off your new found knowledge.  We have been working with in making and posting new badges for our mad skills.  Whether it's making conductive origami or building a skateboard, there's a badge for your most recently step on the path towards total creative enlightenment.

What are your future plans when September ends. I see it's mostly having LA Makerspace around the city at different venues.
We are currently searching for new spaces to set up shop in Los Angeles in the coming months.  Wherever we set up we would like to have a space that's plugged into the community and easy to get to on foot, Metro, and by car.  Los Angeles is a large city, and our plan to eventually set up a network of makerspaces around the city to help spread the wealth.
Are there any similar organizations like yours in LA?
For a full directory of makerspaces in Los Angeles, and around the world, please check out .  That being said, our closest ties are with CRASH Space in west Los Angeles and Deez Makers in Pasadena.