In one of my recent internet searches, I came across a fairly new collective in the city focused on putting together event experiences with a focus on DIY, Design and the Technology realm. The collective was titled, The Makers Nation and formed by a bad-ass chick named Christina Hug.
The Makers Nation own, Christina Hug
Christina set up the event series (such as Creative Cocktail, Meet & Make or the Makers Digest) as a chance for fellow aspiring designers, innovators, thinkers, doers, and builders to come together, collaborate, learn, and, well, build community together. Something we here at Fat Girl Food Squad are so into.
I got the chance to have an e-mail interview with Christina where she told me the importance of DIY culture, what can people expect from Makers Nation and how anybody can be creative!
FGFS: Tell me about The Makers Nation and how did it come to be
CHRISTINA: The Makers Nation exists to help coalesce the creative, tech, and maker communities in Toronto and aspires to make creativity and the act of making things more accessible to everyone. It was started in September of this year when I moved back to Toronto from San Francisco. I wanted to build something that would help support the burgeoning maker community and create opportunities and experiences for people to tap into their creative side.
FGFS: What type of events do you throw
CHRISTINA: We throw all kinds! We host a monthly speaker series called Creative Cocktail, we have a quarterly event called Meet and Make, and we partner with other organizations in the city to put on things like Bot Battles and more.
FGFS: Who are the partners / supporters that you have worked with in order to put on your events
CHRISTINA: The Toronto community has been so incredibly supportive, collaborative, and all ‘round amazing I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for getting the opportunity to meet with and collaborate with so many talented and inspiring people.
I’ve had the great pleasure of working with the Toronto Tool Library, Maker2Maker, and Active Surplus to put on our Bot Battle. For the Meet and Make we were generously given space in the Freshbooks offices and are working with local rock stars like Kingi Carpenter, Amy Egerdeen, Kaye Prince and others.
But honestly none of this would be possible if it weren’t for the people who were coming out to the events and making time for The Makers Nation in their lives. The reactions and enthusiasm people have shown towards The Makers Nation have been both inspiring and humbling.
FGFS: How much does it cost to become involved in one of the Maker Nation events and what does one get?
CHRISTINA: It depends on the event, our Creative Cocktails are free as all of our speakers are volunteering their time and the event itself is meant to be an informal environment for people to connect.
Our Meet and Make that’s happening in early 2014 will be $100 and includes: two three-hour workshops (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) on things like soldering, bookbinding, screen-printing, and English paper piecing. There will be catered breakfast and lunch (from Dundas Park Kitchen), as well as happy hour drinks and we’ll have a photo booth, plus various stations like a Tattly Tattoo bar and a button-making machine. Basically anything that facilitates creative expression, we want to do it!
FGFS: What inspired you to create The Makers Nation?
CHRISTINA: After living in San Francisco for three years and being surrounded by the “playful” mentality I mentioned (about living in San Fran), and having access to so many workshops, events, and resources I just found myself wishing I could bring some of that back to Canada. Knowing that there was a burgeoning maker movement happening in Toronto I wanted to be part of shaping what that looks like and support/stand alongside the people who were in the trenches making it happen.
FGFS: How important is DIY culture?
CHRISTINA: DIY culture is so exciting and is already playing a huge role in our lives and shaping the way we do things. With tools like 3D printers digitizing the manufacturing process people who were once tinkerers in their garage now have to opportunity to become entrepreneurs who can design, manufacture, and sell their own creations.
The idea of being a creator over a consumer is so powerful and the more people learn about how things are made, the more they’re going to want to play a larger role in that process.
FGFS: What are the big differences between San Francisco and Toronto (besides weather)?
CHRISTINA: Weather is a huge one; I’m utterly terrified of facing winters again! In all seriousness though I’d have to say it’s a mentality thing. In San Francisco there is a sense of playfulness across all ages that I have yet to see in Toronto. In SF adults will dress up in costumes and parade through the streets, they will try new things regardless of how it will translate to their careers, and build out their ideas not because they think it will be the next big thing, but because they love the process and just want to see it out in the world. One of my personal missions is to create more opportunities for Torontonians to unplug and ‘play’ because that’s where the really fun creative stuff happens.
FGFS: Your mantra is that “Everyone has the ability to be creative” – why do you think people are so afraid of their creative being?
CHRISTINA: Being creative has an element of vulnerability to it; it’s very personal to put something out into the world that you created. Not to mention the fact that there’s this underlying belief that creativity is something reserved for an elite circle of artists and designers.
I think there is a fear of not being “good enough” combined with not knowing where to start, but in those cases sometimes all it takes is a welcoming environment and an opportunity to experiment, which is what The Makers Nation is trying to build.
FGFS: How would you like to see The Makers Nation grow in the next year?
CHRISTINA: I’m seeing the next year as one big experiment, trying things out, seeing what sticks, and finding ways that I can add the most value to the community. That said I am definitely focused on growing the audience for our Makers Digest, and attendance of our Creative Cocktail, and Meet and Make events. I also have my sights set on unlocking other cities across Canada and the US to expose even more people to joys of making. Success is essentially defined as more people feeling like they can self-identify as a maker or creative and being empowered to participate in that culture.
FGFS: Tell me about the next Makers Nation event
CHRISTINA: Our next big event is our Meet and Make happening in early 2014 (still nailing down the exact date). It’s a day-long DIY extravaganza with workshops from local makers, cocktails, and delicious food. No experience is needed you’ll get the chance to develop new skills in things like crochet, bookbinding, screen printing, and soldering and meet like-minded makers in the city. I’m so excited about it because it’s going to be a really fun day!