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The terms Hacker and Hackerspace are becoming so mainstream that even a popular women’s magazine Chatelaine had “hacks” on their cover this month. So what do these spaces look like? What are other communities doing with their spaces?

In Vancouver, hackerspaces are on the rise: Vancouver Hack Space, MakerLabs, Vancouver Community Laboratory, and Zen Maker Lab are just a few that have popped up in the last several years. Perhaps it’s due to the rising costs of housing and buying things in the city, or perhaps we are becoming more aware of the interconnectedness we humans share on this planet. In any case these spaces are places where people gather with like-minded others to share tools and ideas and work on projects such as building circus equipment, custom-designed boats, jewelry cabinets; they share knowledge and expertise in areas such as machining, crafting, electronics and robotics, as well as electronic music and art, not to mention beer.

In Baghdad a group of scientists, engineers and techies have created Iraq’s first hackerspace. Known as Fikra Space, from the Arabic word for “idea” this open-access laboratory is intended as a technological playground to promote collaborative innovation, entrepreneurship — and potentially solutions to some of the problems facing the country. It’s open for all people, no matter their ages and their religion. The hackerspace concept, where participants are free to drop in, experiment with specialist tech equipment and share ideas, has been imported to Iraq via Bilal Ghalib, a 30-year-old Iraqi-American. Ghalib became involved in hackerspaces when he visited about 50 across the United States in 2009, shooting footage for a possible documentary. Check out his Ted talk on YouTube (The link is up on our Facebook page). In Iraq the next generation of students and entrepreneurs want to take back control of their futures, they are looking for change and they are looking for opportunities to start making things again.

On Vancouver Island there are makerspaces in Victoria and Nanaimo. From the makerspacenanaimo.org website: “Makerspace Nanaimo is an open community lab: a blend of workshop, studio space, social hub and educational facility where members can share tools, resources and knowledge to build just about anything. On any given day you might have people woodworking, someone welding, a couple of programmers debugging code, someone at the bench soldering, and others socializing or playing foosball”.

Bilal Ghalib has some inspirational words regarding creating a hackerspace for individual communities: “A hackerspace looks like the community that forms it, it arises from a group of people that want to support each other in actualizing their imaginations and making it real. But what is important about collaboration, and what is important about a community of people that wants to support you in creation? A community that supports the design: the design necessarily supports that community”. From Ghalib’s experience “a hacker looks at a problem and realizes that he can actualize the solution by any resource available, by taking stuff apart, by asking a friend, and all this happens at hackerspaces”.

So how do we turn our imaginations into reality here on Hornby? By creating our own hackerspace. What do you want to see in our community hackerspace? Come out to a meeting and join in on the conversation. The next meeting will be held at the Fire Hall on Wednesday March 2 at 7:00pm. For more information visit our Facebook page “Happy Hornby Hackerspace”

By Leanna Killoran and Quana Parker