I just returned from New York a couple of days ago. We got back at 12:30, though i wasn’t even sure we would get back that day. Due to extreme fog we were diverted to the Portland airport, where all the passengers, like middle school girls, huddled around whispering about what was to happen. When I heard in the telephone train that we weren’t going to get out until the next morning I almost needed resuscitation. My poor feet after 4 days of walking around New York could barely hold me up.
But back to the far more interesting matter of New York and visiting Genspace. If you don’t know about Genspace, it’s the first Biotech Hackerspace. It’s set up in a loft in Brooklyn. They run classes and offer lab space and advice, like most Hackerspaces, it started out in the corner of a different ex-Google run Hackerspace. Joseph Jackson from Biocurious and my friend Cindy Wu helped set up a meeting with Ellen Jorgensen, one of the PHD heads. Genspace is pretty small, taking up about 1/4 of the top floor of the loft. It has a computer room with a big table, then a sterile room closed off by glass for bacteria, and a workbench area
Me and Ellen talked about Hackerspaces in General and she gave me some quality advice about starting and running one. She told me that a Hackerspace needs:
- Someone with Lab Experience to be there in operating hours (12-8 pm). Seems pretty obvious, but I actually hadn’t quite realized it. Generally good to make sure no one’s creating genetically engineered bunnies. Yes they could be benign Bunnicula like creatures (Please tell me you’ve read Bunnicula!), but in case they weren’t, I think death by bunny would be a bad way to go. I mean how pathetic would that be to have on your gravestone. You’d be known as the sucker that got beat up by a bunny rabbit forever.
- A person with authority who knows what they’re doing.
- 1-2 people to devote all their time and coordinate with an expert. Because really, who needs a social life? I’m in the IB program in highs chool so social interaction just seems to foreign. I’ve come to the point where not having any work is stressful, because I must be forgetting something! So this part will work wonderfully for me.
- Someone to give and teach introductory classes. Anyone out there with biology experience looking for a karma boost or spare cash? The Holiday season tends to inspire both needs as we tell too cheery colleagues that “No, you can’t pull of that elf outfit” and mom’s candle turns out “to cost how much?!”.
- Create and atmosphere with support and fun social environment. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll have to do slightly more than advertising free pizza…
- Must have a Science Advisory Board to give opinions on tough questions. Like, “We probably shouldn’t let this girl genetically modify her boyfriend to want to watch less video games. Right?”
- The space must have non-absorbant floors for bacteria. hadn’t thought of that one, but good point. The neighbors would probably get unhappy if their ceilings started to glow. I mean, I would think it was great. But I’ve found not everyone shares my view of mixing synthetic biology and interior decorating.
She also highly recommend having Workshops to have funding.
Seeing Genspace and meeting Ellen was really cool and definitely made me inspired about a Hackerspace in Seattle. I’m enclosing some pictures, so enjoy. And if anyone has lab equipment they don’t need. Well, post a comment and I’d be happy to pick it up!