Invention; innovation; cooperation. These are the driving forces behind the creation of hackerspaces, and behind Kwartzlab.
A hackerspace is a physical location where like-minded people get together in a cooperative environment to pool their knowledge, experience, and physical resources with a goal to bringing into reality the projects about which they’ve been dreaming. The sky is the limit, almost literally: projects range from building hardware to building art, from restoring antique equipment to putting electronic blinking eyes in a crocheted doll. Put simply, members get together at the space to make stuff, to work on personal projects or bigger collaborative ones. Check out this page on Wired.com for a little more info about hackerspaces in general.
We are a social and creative group, first and foremost. We love to think of new things to invent, or new ways to do things; our work really is a window into our personalities, and into the spirit of the Society. We’ve joined Make:KW for workshops on programming Arduino microprocessors and motor drivers, and even metal casting. Individual projects include a steampunk gown with a complete animatronic bustle; a laser synth guitar; and a “hillbilly” amp made from an old wooden box. We even had a booth at this year’s DIY and DJs event. But in addition to all this hard work, we also love to have fun, and sometimes we just get together for lunch, or a few drinks, or to take part in community activities. The fun stuff helps us to get to know one another, and this additional bonding really feeds our cooperative spirit.
The Kwartzlab Society is a not-for-profit corporation, registered in the province of Ontario; it is entirely member-driven. Members pay a monthly fee, which goes toward the cost of running the space: rent, utilities, cost of tools and equipment, and other costs that may crop up. For more information about becoming a member, including the privileges and responsibilities thereof, head on over to our membership page.
Kwartzlab was born, so to speak, out of the Kitchener-Waterloo maker group,Make:KW, headed by Michael Hiemstra. We love Michael and thank him so much for his support as we get our group and our space together!
A Brief History Of Kwartzlab’s Beginning…
A hackerspace can come together extremely quickly. We all started off as strangers; since March we’ve gotten together socially a number of times to get to know one another, and this has built a real sense of community among the members. This and excellent communication enabled us to get a lot done in just six months:
- March 11, 2009 – Michael Hiemstra (Make:KW) put out a call for a hackerspace on his site
- March 26, 2009 – first weekly meeting at Williams Coffee Pud. More than 25 people showed up!
- April 4, 2009 – a steering committee was formed, with the intent of overseeing the details of setting up the hackerspace
- May 8, 2009 – our first hands-on meeting: Arduino 101! At this time we also began surveying the community to learn what they would like/expect in a hackerspace
- May 24, 2009 – field trip to hacklab.to hackerspace in Toronto
- May 28, 2009 – signed up our first paying member
- June 4, 2009 – began scoping out potential locations
- July 9, 2009 – our first General Meeting. At this stage the Kwartzlab Society split from Make:KW to form a separate entity. We have 22 paid members and $3,000 in the bank
- July 14, 2009 – incorporation papers signed
- July 16, 2009 – incorporation papers in the mail
- July 30, 2009 – Letters Patent received from the government – we are now a Corporation!
- August 15, 2009 – signed a lease for unit 106 at 283 Duke St West in Kitchener
- August 30, 2009 – we now have benches, chairs, cleaner windows, a working refrigerator, shelves, and whiteboards. Walls are patched, about to be sanded, and soon painted!
- September 23, 2009 – we are almost ready to show our “face” to the world – the space has been almost completely transformed!!
- October 1, 2009 – space renovations are complete. Let the making continue.
- Oct 2, 2009 – Kwartzlab teams up with neighbouring hacker spaces thinkhaus (Hamilton) and hacklab (Toronto) to create SoOnCon (Southern Ontario Conference of Hacker Spaces). ROCK!
- Oct 6, 2009 – Kwartzlab holds its first open lab night