Pitfalls to Avoid
Strategically, the number one pitfall you want to avoid is leaving people with the impression that the Maker movement is all about Makerspaces, little kids working with 3D printers, and/or artisans crafting product out of yarn. Of course, all of these activities are great and are a critical part of the Maker movement. The true potential of the Maker movement is in the unleashing human potential among people young and old; people who may otherwise feel left behind due to rapid technology change and/or locked out of economic opportunity.
Whenever you run a community event, ask the questions, who is not in the room? who should be included?
Portland Made surveys its membership each year and can draw a direct line between the build up of the Maker movement in their city and economic value. One of their most surprising findings is that people who would not call themselves “entrepreneurs” gravitate to the word Maker.
Likewise a study by Deloitte quantified the effect of the Maker movement on economic output and the creation of new jobs in urban manufacturing.
Defining the Word Maker
Anyone of any age or skill level can be a Maker. A Maker is someone young or old who likes to work with their hands, tinker, experiment, take things apart to understand how they work, and build new thing using the modern tools of production. Makers develop prototypes of potential new products and then figure out how to manufacture them, ideally by leveraging local suppliers. This creates an authentic local supply chain so that additional manufacturing firms can flourish.
Maker’s believe that:
“If you can see it in your mind’s eye, you can build it.”
Through the process of working with their hands, Maker’s discover that they can have agency over their own future. Makers challenge themselves to tackle hard things, acquire new skills, and come out the other side. This in turn is essential to building economic opportunity in your city or town so as to ready people there for a lifetime of continuous learning, where the only constant is the need to acquire new skills.
One of the most daunting task a city or town must take on is to prepare its citizens for a lifetime of productive work. The Maker movement encourages people to get exposed to modern tools of production at any age and also to acquire additional skills we know to be important to a potential employer and/or to build a local manufacturing business.
Modern Tools of Production
- Computer science
- CNC Tooling
Additional skills that Makers Can Demonstrate and/or Learn by Doing
- Design Thinking
- Problem Solving
More tactical pitfalls to avoid when planning and executing your Town Hall include:
- Trying to do the event yourself.
Spend the time upfront recruiting a Planning Committee and select each person on the committee as a source of energy, ideas, and community.
- Trying to build your own mailing list.
Instead, you want to depend on the kindness of your partners on the Planning Committee and elsewhere to get the word out.
- Death by Powerpoint.
The best format for a Town Hall is one that encourages engagement. In addition to avoiding too much Powerpoint, you’ll want to avoid having any one speaker dominate the proceedings.
- Expecting people to come to an Unconference with “stuff” prepared to talk about.
Make sure you seed the discussion with thoughtful talks brought forward by members of the Planning Committee and/or from a speaker you invite into your community with highly relevant experience.
- Not collecting RSVPs prior to the Town Hall.
Important so you can keep the conversation going after the Town Hall is over.
- Not checking people in when they arrive at the Town Hall.
For the same reason, RSVPs are important. You’ll want to know who attended your Town Hall so you can follow up appropriately and keep the dialogue started there going.
- Not having a dedicated hashtag for your Town Hall.
Suggested format: #makertownhall-YourCITYNAME
- Spending all your money on the venue. Similarly, spending all your money on food and drink.
A great venue and better food and drink is rarely make or break for an event like this.
- Not considering what other events are happening at the same time
- Not staying visible the day of the Town Hall
The day of the Town Hall The organizer(s) of the event need to stay highly visible, to nip problems in the bud and keep the event moving in the right direction.
- Not following up with people after the Town Hall.
Do follow up and let everyone who participated and RSVPed know what happened and to keep the dialogue going.
- Not documenting the day of the event with photos.
- Make sure to hydrate and eat.
Often when running town halls, you’ll find yourself wanting to talk to as many people as possible and forget to take care of yourself during the day.