By Cathy Johnson
“Let’s make something,” says the parent to the child.
“What shall we make?” asks the child.
“Whatever you want.”
“I often wonder what the world would be like if every adult was as creative and free as we all were as kids. I think that it would be a calmer, lovelier, more peaceful place. And I’d like to do something about it.”
Those are the words of art teacher Danny Gregory. But they could be the echoes of millions of people who look at the freedom and openness of the minds of children and have actually done something to recapture their own. They are called “makers.”
The “maker concept” or “maker movement” has several facets, but got its start as “a trend in which individuals or groups of individuals create and market products that are recreated and assembled using unused, discarded or broken electronic, plastic, silicon or virtually any raw material and/or product from a computer-related device.” Or, more simply put, a maker is not just a consumer of goods but is a Do-It-Yourselfer, a recycle and re-user, and a crafter.
In the beginnings of this trend, the idea was that most of the products created under the maker movement would be open source, so anyone can access and create them using available documentation and manuals. However, the maker movement also incorporates creations and inventions that never existed before and were developed by individuals in their homes, garages or a place with limited manufacturing resources.
Gradually the term broadened to include makers of goods like those sold on Etsy, small businesses dedicated to making one thing and making it well. Hundreds of thousands of people attend Maker Faires, an event that takes place in many global cities each year. Google the term DIY along with a subject, and there is probably a YouTube video for a guide.
One of the most well-attended events in Big Rapids each year is the annual Arts and Crafts Festival is Hemlock Park on Labor Day. Most of what is sold there came from makers.
Many libraries and museums now have “makerspaces,” physical locations where people can come together to make. Blogger Brit Morin sees it this way: “In a world of mass-produced products, modern technology has made it easier than ever for a single individual to create and distribute items that are customizable and unique without having middlemen like manufacturers. This growing shift will continue to affect the economy and will likely have big
implications on large retailers. It is a special time in history that will have a transformative impact on our future.”
“Makers will continue to be found in fields ranging from food to crafts to technology. And together, they will push each other forward to invent and build new and innovative things. Many technologies that will drive this growing population are not even built yet. In effect, the maker movement has only just begun.”
What would you like to make today?