Talent Maker City: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead!

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By Sophia and Adam Bogle

Talent Maker City: Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead!

I met Ryan Wilcoxson at the ScienceWorks Mini Maker Faire last year. (Which is coming up again September 23rd so mark your calendars!) He was at a booth where they were handing out paper airplane designs and promoting their enigmatic-sounding project: Talent Maker City (TMC). What could this name possibly mean? Were they from a city where talent was created? Was it a subdivision of Talent where they made things? Was it some virtual reality place on the internet? It turned out that my second guess was the closest.

The idea of Talent Maker City is based on creating a “makerspace” facility in Talent. A makerspace is a physical location that offers classes, training, equipment and support for creative endeavors that all have to do with making things, from creating products, to getting experienced

guidance in prototyping an invention. A place where you can learn to fix a lamp, create a new line of tech gadgetry to sell or create your own artwork.

Creating a makerspace is only part of it though. The reason it is called Talent Maker City is because it represents a paradigm shift for the whole city of Talent. The maker city concept has the potential to make small cities thrive through supporting open innovation and creative

entrepreneurship. While makerspaces exist in many big cities. Choosing to create this in a small city requires more effort but also has the potential to have a bigger impact. It can support and sustain the local maker economy and build a more connected, more successful, thriving city that

supports the whole Rogue Valley and beyond.

I went to their open house on April 11th to find out more about it and was amazed at how many people showed up and also at the level of enthusiasm. We did a sort of “window shopping” session on “What do we want this to look like?” and I just remember that everyone wanted it to

be a beautiful space that would encourage collaboration and someone mentioned having a rooftop bar. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

The origin story for Talent Maker City goes back to 2016 when Talent planning commissioner, Allison French and local artist Karen Rycheck discovered the Etsy MakerCities Summit (etsy.com). Through a happy synchronicity it happened that all in the same day they got the approval of Talent mayor, Darby Stricker and then brought Ryan on board (who was doing

woodcraft in his garage) and so they decided to apply to get in. Weeks later they found out they were one of only 13 cities chosen out of 126 to be included so they went off to New York to find out more and create an action plan.

Now, almost exactly a year on from the group’s sojourn back east, Talent Maker City is working with the City of Talent to build the makerspace facility as a core attraction of their upcoming Gateway Project development and they are moving full STEAM ahead! Pun intended. S.T.E.A.M. Stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. Even without having the physical makerspace yet, TMC is offering summer STEAM camps for middle-schoolers through Rogue Community College and the Phoenix-Talent School District. The camps have already begun to fill up so check it out soon! Stop Motion Animation, Rube Goldberg Machines and Renewable Energy are just a few of the ones available.

TMC has also launched what will be a year-round series of diverse maker workshops, from a live bronze pour demonstration to a hands-on udder-to-cheese goat chèvre class in conjunction with Pi Creamery in Talent. More maker workshops are in the works! If you have a suggestion for one, contact them!

Are you a Maker, Entrepreneur or Teacher? Do you want to help Southern Oregon become a vibrant ecosystem for creating economic innovation? Get involved! Go to TalentMakerCity.org and click the contact button to let them know what your interests are. Together we can create an environment that encourages the kind of boot-strap creativity and entrepreneurship that can only be describes as Oregonian.

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