In keeping with a string of “this is this” posts, I wrapped an exhibit at a local maker event last weekend, helping children make flowers in a stationery garden. It’s an expo for art, science, tech, and laughs. It’s in the running for the largest maker event in Ontario, and there are a few qualities that set it worlds ahead of other events.
Access is a priority. In a community with powerfully diverse incomes and standards of living, having something as arcane and strange as MakerExpo be free means it’s accessible to almost anyone. There are hands on activities for kids and adults, and the opportunity to see things you never imagined possible, whether that’s robot sumo, the chance to find local maker spaces, or a lady knight riding a balloon dragon.
Tables are free to exhibitors as well, which gives people who otherwise might not be able to show their work the chance to display it alongside professionals, and connect with people in the community. Whether you’re weaving a community cloth, doing an all day podcast, or debuting a textile art that’s new to you, you’re welcome. Their tagline is “We are all makers”.
It welcomes everyone
It’s not all robots and 3d printing, either. Community videogames, miniature painting, LEGO therapy art, balloons, cardboard, fibre art, and writing. Maker Expo isn’t in the business of policing who’s a maker. It’s a mixed media expo, made up up people in the community who want to make strange or interesting things. Or even really neat mundane things.
It welcomes creation and exploration, whether that’s offering up new experiences, or creating new spaces for people to wander around in. Two days of mayhem and wonder and blinking lights and the occasional quiet space.
I took up space in a paper flower garden all day, doing flower crafts with people and talking about the way that we design space. The exhibit was off to the side, and gave people a place to decompress after the din of two auditoriums full of hectic hands on bedlam.
With paper roses, tulips, and fantastic flowers that don’t have names, and in concert with a Canned Lightning, a sound-sensitive LED exhibit that added some energy to our skyline, we got a chance to sit and chat with people who’d come from miles to see wonderful things.
To quote a seven year old we interviewed last year,
“Everything here that people built is one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.”