February 20, 2013
A nonprofit dedicated to providing the tools, space and support for creative tinkerers has crafted quite a shindig to celebrate its one-year anniversary Sunday.
The party/open house will be both a celebration of The Curious Forge's first year and an effort to attract more members, said founder Liam Ellerby.
"Come by," he said. "See what we're about."
Tapped into the Maker Movement, The Curious Forge nurtures creative traits as different as welding and basket-making, glass work and electrical programming, at its cooperative creative space, located 520 East Main St., behind the AnimalSave Thrift & Treasures store.
Its creators boast that the goal is to empower people to take things they enjoy and learn how to make them their own. Ellerby describes the organization as similar to a health club.
"As a community, we can afford equipment that as individuals we can't or don't have the space for," Ellerby said.
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And like a gym, some of the people there are really passionate or really knowledgeable and others can learn from the more experienced, he said.
"Doing that as a group is a great way to collaborate," said board member Kara Asilanis. "It can be really inspiring."
The Forge also taps into the growing notion of hacker space: shared work space for communal creativity, often used in reference to computer programming. One full corner of The Forge's 3,000-square-foot warehouse is devoted to metal work, Ellerby's passion. Other parts have kilns for clay, tables for sewing. The warehouse has entire walls dedicated to "found object" supplies, some belonging to specific members and others up for communal grabs.
"We're all junk-yard dogs," Asilanis said.
Members work at all hours to hone the skills to repair their own belongings, others strive to express themselves creatively.
"We're all makers who, in part, like repurposing things," said Asilanis, a local painter who is becoming adept at welding.
"A lot of people are really into welding," Asilanis said. "Many of them are women."
In today's culture, Asilanis said, many basic skills have been forfeited to the convenience consumerism. Rather than repair, many people will simply replace, she said. The ability to repair or build something yourself, she said, is liberating.
While its first year was about educating people of their mission to attract a foundation and the structure of the organization, the coming year will be about growing, Ellerby said. That will in part include attracting new members. Ellerby said he would like to have around 30 members.
"Enough people know now what it is, so we can now concentrate on empowering our members and the community," Ellerby said.
Memberships to The Curious Forge come at $50 per month, which buys 24-hour access to work space, unlimited use of the tools and equipment, discounts from local supporting material vendors and a voice in the organization. Its current nearly 20 members also get discounts on the close to 40 various instructional workshops including art bike building, flame effects, soldering, Ardunio chip hacking and solarizing.
"If we don't have the skill set in-house, we will invite someone from the outside," Ellerby said.
Future goals also include working community groups, such as homeless advocacy organizations and senior citizens. Ellerby envisions a program for seniors that shares their technical skills with youth who can, in turn, help with modern technology.
The anniversary open house will feature members' working projects, demos and a few hands-on opportunities, such as soldering.
Visit http://www.thecuriousforge.org for information.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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