We are opening up our platform so that people in other parts of the UK (and further afield) can start their own open-access local manufacturing directories. They will be able to use and build on our work, by being able to access our software (our labour of love, built by some tip top developers), resources, and come on training courses built from our experiences and learning so far.
Over the last couple of years we’ve had countless enquiries from people looking to re-create what we've done in Scotland for the their city or region. Whilst we are still focussed and fascinated by making manufacturing more accessible in Scotland; we have always had something of an open philosophy when it comes to sharing our work.
When more and more of these requests came in, the more we realised that we should really be making our platform available elsewhere. If we wanted to see small scale, local making, manufacturing and repairing as a real alternative to mass production in this world, we needed to look outwards, and think about an international system that would to make this change possible.
Alongside openness, we’ve also been big believers in the power of small. Our work for Scotland has only worked so far because we are a small team that are passionate about the future of skills and industries here. We are also able to take the time to curate, visit and film the factories that we list on the platform so that we know they will work with our typical audience: artists, designers, architects and makers.
With that in mind, who better to go out and find, film, meet and verify local manufacturers in other places, than the equally passionate people that live there?
If lots of smaller groups worked together, could we create a shared network of local manufacturing directories that were openly available around the world?
Sometime last October, we decided that yes, this was possible, and so we committed to making Make Works available for other regions to use. These regions (something like a ‘chapter’) will be run independently, with their organisers chipping in annually for the shared costs of using, sustaining and developing the software.
Regions will be able to access resources, tools and extra training in specific skills (e.g photography, film-making, data-collection, content writing). They will also receive on-going support (e.g regular Skypes) from HQ as they develop so that it doesn't seem such a daunting task. We are even planning an annual factory finders meetup!
Building databases, designing taxonomies in detail and obsessing over improving UI are all things we do well at MWHQ, so we have spent the last few months making sure that experience for anyone else using the software is at a benchmark of “as good as using Squarespace or Mailchimp.” The idea being that emerging regions can concentrate on factory finding, rather than brand building, or worrying about the technical complexities of web design, development or SEO.
Regions will be encouraged to start building their own cultural programmes, public events, factory tours (etc) offline too. Over the years we’ve tried our hand at running everything from artist residencies to lecture nights; Pecha Kucha’s to manufacturing pub quizzes; publications and exhibitions to speed dating for makers and manufacturers meet-ups. We can’t wait to see how different regions build on these ideas and develop their own public programmes for their area.
Over the next few months we will be opening some of the first new Make Works regions that are already involved. You will still be able to search on Make Works Scotland just like you do now, but you’ll also be able to look at emerging directories from other areas across the UK and beyond. (Spoiler alert, first up is Birmingham!)
If you are fascinated by how things are made, the people that make them - and can see a need to make manufacturing more accessible where you live, then we’d love to hear from you. You can work on mapping a city, a specific geographical area, or even a whole country (though in terms of localism, we don’t recommend anywhere much larger than Scotland.)
In exchange for the software, the brand, sharing our expertise and ongoing support, we’ll be asking for an annual contribution, which will go towards our shared running costs of the platform. This is significantly lower than what it would cost to set up a similar website from scratch, and means that we will have capacity to do things like fix bugs or collectively make improvements to how the site works.
To get more of an understanding of our history as an organisation and what we are about, you can find out more here.
If it seems like something you are serious about making happen then send us an email explaining who you are and why you’d love to start your region, to firstname.lastname@example.org