A newly formed group is working toward opening a “makerspace,” or a community workshop where members could have access to tools and the freedom to share creative ideas and work together to increase innovation, collaboration and community in Lafayette.
The group has its sights set on a 10,000-square-foot warehouse in Freetown, where 3-D printers, metalworking equipment, laser etchers, photography equipment and more, in addition to resources suggested by the community, could be housed. The space would be open to anyone who wants to be a member.
The project organizers include Jackie Lyle, who founded and ran the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana for 21 years; David Maynor, a local robotics engineer, artist, photographer, and designer; and Crawford Comeaux, a software developer who’s admittedly obsessed with making the makerspace happen.
“A few years ago I was working at Fibercorps in innovation and ecosystems and I developed a list of requirements for a community or city to spawn innovation; some things were tangible, some things not,” says Comeaux. “There were a lot of things we didn’t have on that list.”
Comeaux says he decided to take the reins and begin a funding campaign. He envisions the space as a 24-hour second home for people of all ages who want to make something that requires creativity. While most makerspaces’ activities are technology-focused, the group stresses the importance of being just as inclusive to artists and geeks alike. The workshop would also be available for field trips, family projects and educational activities.
“What we’re going to be doing in order to identify what we put in there is we’re going to be having independent crowd-funding campaigns for each of the different categories and tools,” Comeaux says. “When you go to our site you’ll see a carpentry campaign or sewing campaigns or photography campaigns or what have you, along with campaigns for specific tools.”
He explains that whenever the campaign reaches its goals, that’s how the group will know what sort of tools and materials with which to equip the makerspace. Comeaux describes the process of growing the makerspace as “organic” and based on the needs of the community.
“I think of this project as providing a big sandbox where all of the highly creative people in Lafayette can get together and make stuff,” says Comeaux. “A makerspace doesn’t thrive because of the diversity and quality of its tools, but because of the diversity and quality of its people and the collaborative culture they create. Our city’s a great fit in that respect.”
Those seeking to contribute to and follow the Lafayette Makerspace’s progress can do so here.