The calm before the storm

It’s Friday morning, 24 hours before Brighton Mini Maker Faire. Tomorrow is the day that has been the focal point of my life for the past 6 months. This is how it started for me.

Massive Robot Seagull 2

One bright Saturday In February, Liah and I went down to the Skiff to take part in a Zombie Badge Workshop, essentially a soldering class for complete beginners.

We spent a couple of hours there, being taught how to solder and make simple circuits by the Build Brighton folk, and really enjoyed the whole experience. Learning a new skill, the atmosphere; being with a group of people who all walked through the door unable to do something, and 2 hours later realised they could.

Over the past year, I had been doing more and more projects at home, learning to sew, making camping gear, and so on. So it was inspiring to be working on a project with other people for a change. Afterwards, I collared Mike and found out about Build Brighton, their workshops and the hackspace movement. It was all very intriguing.

He also mentioned that they had been talking about putting on a bigger event — a workshop-on-steroids — in Brighton. Something called a Maker Faire. There was a group of people already involved, they’d had some meetings, done a lot of groundwork, but had reached the point where they needed someone to co-ordinate people and energy. At this point I had been freelancing for 4 or 5 months and was looking out for something new to sink my teeth into. Although this was clearly not a project that would help pay the rent, it sounded too interesting to pass up. So I went home, um’d and ah’d over whether I could afford to take on such a big commitment, and after a couple of days signed up.

A few weeks later, we all sat down in the Earth and Stars pub, and I met for the first time some of the other people who had been getting the show on the road before I’d got involved. Mike Pountney (who ended up being my main partner-in-crime, co-organiser and general getter-of-things-done), Honor Harger from Lighthouse, Anna Dumitriu (who’s running the event on the day), Andy Budd from Clearleft, Nilden Ozkan and others. They had made considerable progress, securing some initial financial support, getting the go-ahead from O’Reilly (who own the Maker Faire brand, and sorted out banners and Make goodies for us), tapping up venues to see who could donate a suitable space, and also working on a wider programme of events that became known as Brighton Digital Festival, of which we’re just a part.

Over the next 6 months, I met a whole crew of people who had been instrumental in setting Brighton Mini Maker Faire up and devoted time to making it happen: Ant Miller, Graham Cameron from O’Reilly, Toby Cole, Barney Livingstone, Natalia Buckley and others from Build Brighton. Sarah Angliss (aka Spacedog) who is organising the after-party. Rowan Stanfield and her colleagues from Content & Motion, who have done such a monumental job getting the word out, setting up interviews and running our online presence. Phillip Berman from Larchmont Films who has shot our Meet the Maker videos. Maxine, Marilena and Josh from the Brighton Dome.

I managed to rope in a few other people to help out. Amy to make bunting, banners and signage; Angus Hubbard from Loaded Productions to shoot a film on the day. There’s a whole crew of volunteers who’ll be working tonight and on the day to set everything up and help things run smoothly who I haven’t even met yet. I hope it’s clear that this has been a hugely collaborative and shared effort.

And of course, an army of Makers is about to descend on the Dome. I hope that I will have time on the day to meet them all, learn about their projects — and maybe do some soldering.