Have you heard of the story of the fablab in Amersfoort?


According to the story, 4 artists were sitting complaining about the cost of equipment hire and setting up a studio for themselves, when one artist’s partner said, “I’m sick of hearing about you talking about this. What’s the minimum amount of time and money you need to set this up?”

When they seriously looked at it, they realised that the price of the hardware had dropped ridiculously, and with modern delivery times, the speed of set-up had dropped too.

So they built it in a week. For 5000 euro’s. Between 4 of them.


I hadn’t this is a really useful approach

During the sessions about unMonastery during lote4 this was a key point of friction. i kept wanting to drive the conversation towards this: the practicals…how to make it happen and keep it running in scenarios with little or no money. This is precisely the right approach. Because if you can do it you don’t have to deal with funders etc which frankly would be a HUGE benefit. Just the time wasted on filling out forms in badly designed grant processes, yuck.

Thanks for sharing!

This is the main reason that i started learning tool making.

“This is precisely the right approach. Because if you can do it you don’t have to deal with funders etc which frankly would be a HUGE benefit. Just the time wasted on filling out forms in badly designed grant processes, yuck.”

It also means that you can just go and do it. Precisely the sort of empowerment that the NGO’s and the aid charities don’t want to use. Look at the reactions that the Hexayurt got.

Using the Amersfoort approach means that it is simple to get things started with a minimal capital investment. Anyone who can scrape together 1000 euro’s, and can find a group of people to work with, can put together a space where you can build the next set of tools.

This sort of re-iterative developement process has been core to the way that objects have been made for all of human civilisation.

Re-investing your energy on improving the tools you use to improve your life.

It’s only that now the price-point of automated systems has dropped to the point that small-scale manufacturing facilities can compete with large-scale manufacturing in economic terms. And rather than having to use expensive-to-buy, and expensive-to-run, machinery, you can control it with a computer that costs a few euro’s to manufacture from parts, and runs on AA batteries. :smiley:

Add in the use of self-built power generation systems, and self-built power-storage systems, and the running costs drop to almost zero.

Get enough land, and a clean water supply, so that you can build a sufficient number of these, http://wickcuriosityshop.net/collection/plant-regulated-growing-system   and you’ve got most of your food supply sorted. Using these devices that he made himself, Charles Seber was able to grow two-thirds of his yearly food bill, in a space the size of a London garden.

We’ve been looking at optimising modular greenhouse designs for water reclamation, so it reduces the energy cost of growing food, and increases the range of crops you can grow.

And of course, the design and making of these tools-for-survival is just one branch of the tech-tree of possibilities that extends from the basic workshop.

Get the basic workshop built, and you’re on your way.

I’ve got a space where we can build a workshop, and i’ve got funding. I’ve got one other person who’s helping me.

We need some more people to help share the workload. Anyone interested?

Hmm are you coming to #31C3?

We’re setting up an assembly there.

The idea being that rather than just go ahead and build more stuff we start with figuring out who is already working on different parts of the puzzle and then figuring out ways of supporting one anothers projects.

Also maybe inventoring what skillsets and a step-by-step plan/map of the road to autonomy and building community around each part as it can feel quite overwhelming going it alone/starting from scratch… https://edgeryders.eu/en/edgeryders-at-31c3

I’ve never been to the CCC yet.

I’m already booked til the end of the month.

The idea that we share the workload, and avoid duplication of effort, is great.

It’s the sort of thing that i was hoping to find when i joined Edgeryders.

While it would be nice to meet up in person, most of the prep-work we can do online.

I came across this article today.


It’s an interesting breakdown of some of the issues involved with setting up a Fablab.

Some of the background issues are similar to some of the issues that were discussed in Belarus, and some that i’ve personally experienced at the London Hackspace.

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And another paper written from the point-of-view of the EU funding system, http://peerproduction.net/issues/issue-5-shared-machine-shops/editorial-section/critical-notions-of-technology-and-the-promises-of-empowerment-in-shared-machine-shops/

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