The Biggest Makerspace in a Town of 10,000 or Less

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FabLab ICC is located at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas. It’s a small town of less than 10,000 people in southeast Kansas. Yet for a town of that size, FabLab ICC with 15,000 sq.ft. of space is large. Jim Correll is the Director of FabLab ICC and Tim Haynes is the Manager. They are my guests on this episode to talk about how their FabLab serves not just students, but also the community at large. Two of their programs are the Food Fab Lab and a Guitar Fab Factory. All of this you can find out by reading their newsletter, FabLab BLAB.

Links: https://www.fablabicc.org/

Jim Correll and Tim Haynes at NACCE event in 2016

Transcript: The World’s Largest Makerspace in a Town of 10,000 or Less

Jim: Launched a thing that we called the weekly entrepreneurs brown bag lunch, and out of that in 2012, we started learning about 3D printing was coming in and the FabLabs were growing and we started hearing about maker spaces. And so in this kind of lunch meeting series, we started talking about, maybe we should have one of those in Independence someday. And for everybody there Independence, Kansas is a little bit less than 10,000 people. So it’s very rural in the southeast corner of Kansas, about 75 miles north of Tulsa, Oklahoma. So it’s not urban at all. And Independence is by far the smallest enrollment community college of the nineteen in the state of Kansas. We bill ourselves as the “world’s largest makerspace in a town of 10,000 or less” now.

Dale: Welcome to Make:cast. I’m Dale Dougherty.

The FabLab at Independence Community College in Independence, Kansas produces FabLab Blab, an old-fashioned newsletter that reads like a proud small town newspaper. Jim Correll, the director of FabLab, has made the newsletter a priority, showcasing programs as well as students. Tim Haynes, the FabLab manager wrote about developing a guitar fab factory program in his recent column. Jim and Tim are my guests on Make:cast to talk about how a makerspace at a community college in a small town can serve the community at large and create new opportunities for young people in the local economy.

First of all, guys, welcome. Jim, would you just give us an introduction to yourself.

Jim: I’m Jim Correll. I’m the director of FabLab ICC at Independence Community College, and maybe a little bit of an unlikely character to have ended up in a position like this. But I grew up a farm boy on the other side of the state in Kansas, and then had a lot of varied experience in my adult life sometime in manufacturing and doing a lot of varied things.

The college wanted to put entrepreneurship together in 2006 and they didn’t want it to be an academic situation. I usually tell people they’ve decided that a misfit like me, who’d never done anything more than five or six years in my adult life was the right fit because I have had a couple of businesses of my own in addition to working in manufacturing and some of the other things. So that’s how my history started with ICC was in 2006 to launch an entrepreneurship program.

And one thing led to another and in early 2014, the college president at the time told me if I could put the money together for the initial sort of launch and equipment, there was a 2000 square foot shop area in a building that wasn’t being used that we could have. And so we use the suggested equipment lists by the international FabLab Foundation and we’re able to put some money together. And that’s how it started in October of 14.

Tim came on board in I think July of that year and the school wanted me to hire an engineer fresh out of Pitt State University in Pittsburgh, about 65 miles away. And they’re a good engineering school, but I was pretty sure a new engineer is not who I wanted. And Tim was working for us in the library and he showed me all excited one day, how they were making bicycles out of bamboo and how much more practical they were than the composite, expensive kind. And I knew right then he’s the one that I wanted to help me with this. So I got them to let him move over.

 We outgrew the 2000 square foot shop very quickly and eventually encroached pretty much on the rest of the 8,000 square foot building. And in 2016, we started talking about maybe having another building and then that came about with some help from the economic development administration. So we added another 15,500 just about adjoining.

And so we bill ourselves as the “world’s largest makerspace in a town of 10,000” or less now. It’s been crazy. There’s three of us that run it and we try to use volunteers. And that kind of was a challenge to keep the volunteers going through COVID, but we’re trying to build our volunteer program back up and we bill ourselves as half for our students and half for the community.

So we have a lot of community members join. We just charge $125 a year for an individual to belong and then have access to all of our stuff. So we’re open about half of the time during the week for our members and our students to just come over. And then we use the other half of the time to do the classes that we do, and then the other administration for running the place.

Dale: Tim, do you want to just give us some background on you? So you were working in the library?

Tim: Absolutely. So I don’t have a background in library science or anything related to libraries. I actually am one of the people who married into this community. So my wife was born and raised in this town and her parents both teach at the high school here. And so pretty much everybody knows them. And we were both in grad school, our first year being married. We were living in downtown Kansas City, both kind of floundering and looking at opportunities for what we would do after school. She’s a physical therapist. She had job opportunities, six months before she graduated. And one of those was a very firm offer to come back to her hometown and work for the hospital here in her hometown.

And she had committed to doing that. And I didn’t really have any other offers on the table at the time. So I just started looking for jobs around this area and I thought it might be interesting to work at a community college.

But very quickly learned that it really wasn’t fulfilling me professionally. So I was actually in the middle of the job search when Jim came to me and said, Hey, they’re going to build this FabLab thing. And at the time that he wasn’t even offering me a job, but then maybe a week or two later, the president of the college at the time came to me and said, “They’re going to need somebody to manage that FabLab with, would you like to be that person?” and I couldn’t say yes, quick enough.

Dale: Did you know what you’re getting into?

Tim: Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

Oh, the first, probably two months on the job was cleaning and painting and rearranging furniture. And just tidying the place up, trying to make it look like a FabLab.

Tim Haynes working with a class

And of course, when you’re trying to build a FabLab and you’ve never seen one before, you have to like, look at pictures and talk to people and figure out what a makerspace looks like. So we actually drove down the road one day to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Dale: Nathan

Tim: Nathan was definitely a mentor for us, especially early on when we were just getting our feet under us. That’s a testament. So I think the community that a FabLab network has, and not just FabLabs in general, but all kinds of hackers and tinkers that, that meander about in this pool of the maker movement. And of course you’re on the forefront of that, but I had not seen a 3D printer before about 2013. And I’m relatively new to the movement myself, but I attended the US FabLab network symposium in Milwaukee in 2015 it would be. Like February, March, 2015 was my first professional conference I’d ever been to in my life.

 And I was really confused because we had a FabLab at our college and I was there to figure out how to run the place, how to manage the place. But all of a sudden I was the expert in the room in a lot of discussions because we had a FabLab and there were lots of people at the symposium

Dale: weren’t that far along.

Tim: So they were still trying to figure out how to get one. It was very surreal to me. And so I certainly had some imposter syndrome going on. Like your people are looking to me to know what I’m doing, and I don’t have a clue.

Dale: We’re all amateurs at some level. We have to figure it out.

On your website, you have a 3D tour of your FabLab. And in your newsletter, you’ve mentioned that a young man created that for you. Can you talk a little bit about how that happened?

Jim: Wesley Collins was a student here at ICC in about, I believe, it was probably 2014 and 2015 and he was pretty good football player.

And of course he wanted to go to a D1 school. But I believe he came back here to Coffeyville, , which is close by. His family was there. So we met him right at the end of his experience in 2015. And we had a volunteer that kind of took him under his wing.

Wesley was really excited about 3D printing and drones. And so he went on to Washburn University, which is in Topeka, Kansas, and got his business degree. And he actually interned at the Kansas State Senate for Laura Kelly, who’s now the governor of Kansas. So he was making his way and networking, and he maintained his interest in the drones and started a drone business. And right now he still has that business on the side, but he also bought the 3D tour equipment that he used to make that tour video that you saw on our website. And he’s still down in Coffeyville. He’s married. He’s got two or three little girls. And Walmart has a big distribution center– it’d be about 50 miles from here and he’s working insane hours there right now. And he’s got it all planned out that next March, he’s go full-time with this drone and ….

Page 2 of FabLab Blab Newsletter

Dale: It speaks to what your original mission was to find people like that.

Tim: Sometimes we can’t find them. Sometimes they come to us.

Dale: The value of having a space, and to actually have someone who may not have that word in their head at all but they know they want to do stuff.

Jim: We’ve found Dale is that, although we’ve always been obsessed with combining entrepreneurship with the makerspace. Maybe that’s because I started at the college with the entrepreneurship program. But we found that, although that it’s not unique, it’s not universal among makerspaces. So we really look at a big part of our mission. Like a lot of the equipment we have now we’re in such a small market. You can’t go down the street and print a brochure at a UPS store or something like that. There’s nothing like that here. We have nice laser printers. So our business members can come in and do everything from business cards, up through banners and fliers. So we really try to have a lot of equipment that the small business owner maybe doesn’t have easy access to.

Tim: It’s not the cutting edge, but it’s certainly practical.

Dale: I think that community orientation, especially in a small town, is really important because really there aren’t other resources available. And it’s, I think there’s two things. One is the equipment. The other thing is the expertise in the community developing that and even like Tim, you didn’t go to school to be a makerspace manager. You can see maybe how it fits a number of your skillsets and some of which may come from school, some of which come from other things you did in life.

Tim: Certainly. Yeah, so my academic background is in foreign languages and political science. And as a student, I was required to study abroad, but I would certainly argue that was one of my most formative and most educational experiences. And I can attribute that mostly to going through and surviving culture shock.

And I think culture shock is something we tend to look at through the lens of international travel, but it absolutely applies to throwing yourself in the deep end of any discipline and trying to try to figure out how to make it work. You got to sink or swim. And I think productive struggle is that is the course, the psychological term that applies here, but but you don’t have to be an engineer to be successful in this field. What you do have to have is an appreciation for productive struggle and a healthy curiosity.

Dale: I haven’t heard that term, but it’s great. We had an Education Forum end of September and I gave a talk on it and said, Give us your C students. It was the title of my talk. I use that word struggle. Didn’t have the productive part of it, but that’s a good thing to add. And I said, to some degree, A and B students see themselves as successful and D and F students see themselves as failures, but the C student has experience of both, that they can fail and they can succeed. Harry Truman famously said that “the world is run by C students.” And the idea is that when you get out in the real world or you have to do something like even run your own business, you’re gonna, you’re gonna fail. And you have to be able to overcome that to be successful. You’re not just going to step out and be an instant success.

Jim: There’s a national program with a Kansas arm called JAG, jobs for America’s graduates. And it’s really for the troubled kids. And while troubled is not the right word, the kids that are struggling to make the grade in high school and in danger of dropping out and our problem with the subliminal message on that is that what we think that comes through to the student is you’re a script you’re about ready to drop out of high school. And the best you can hope for is to work for somebody else or the rest of your life. And yet we think that there’s many potential entrepreneurs, great entrepreneurs in that group, even in the D and F ones.

Tim and Jim giving a presentation

Dale: Absolutely. And I don’t mean the D and ‘s are a waste of time by any means. If you go out and talk to business people in your community, they weren’t the A students.

Jim: Rarely.

Dale: And it takes a different kind of person. I’ve always thought that one of the opportunities in places like yours is to find that student that’s struggling and help them get there a little bit faster. Some of them go on to struggle for 10 or 12 years and they’re in their thirties and they’re still trying to figure out what they can do in their life.

And they’ve had sometimes really bad experiences, but, if they get if they find a community of people that can support them, it makes a huge difference. Support, meaning, encouragement.

Jim: That’s a big part of our mission. We had a group of them in here the other day. And we said, people talk about trade schools a lot, but usually that’s all within the context of going to work for somebody else.

So we told these JAG kids the other day, you can own the plumbing company. You can own the HVAC company. You don’t have to work for everybody else. And then we found out that they left 12 of them home because they had flunked the class or something. And we want to figure out how to tell them those are the ones that we need to talk to the most, the ones that you left behind.

So we’ve got to work on that part.

Dale: My hope is that these are also people that might be able to find some of these opportunities, like what’s missing in Independence, Kansas, what needs to be done here, that other people don’t want to do.

Jim: Exactly. Dale, there’s a guy up north of here that has a mobile tire service. It’s called Tires To Go and he’ll come and put four new tires on your car wherever it’s at and balance them. And you will not ever hear a school career counselor or any of these career counselors we have talking about anything like that. And so we’ve been using this iceberg analogy, that the iceberg above the water, that’s the careers that people always talk about to these kids.

But then below the surface, you’ve got all this stuff that has to be done to make the world work. And you need somebody that can figure out what that is. So we like to liken the entrepreneurs to the stem cells of an economy because they can go figure out what’s wrong and fix it.

Dale: And we need that fixing.

Jim: Yes.

Dale: Tim, where you going to say something just a minute ago?

Tim: I was gonna say while we will not ever, you won’t hear us say education is useless or worthless, you will hear us repeatedly present the case that we are at a college, but we’ll be the first to admit that our college doesn’t serve every single student and they will not all be best served by encouraging them to pursue a two-year academic degree and transfer on. There’s so much we can do in our FabLab, which just happens to be located at a community college. It could be anywhere else, but there’s so much we can do to serve the students who really aren’t sure what they want to do and really give them a peek at what’s below the surface of the water at this iceberg of careers that they’ve never heard of before.

And I get it. A lot of our problems with our education system is driven by desire for data and metrics. We want to know that we’re performing well and that we’re efficiently spending tax dollars, whatever that looks like. And so we’re demanding data. That’s what they’re giving us. They’re giving us data. They’re giving us students who get good grades, that we can assess the outcomes and we can track their progression and we can graduate them in batches and we can present a percentage of success. And now that we have that metric, we can try to improve it for the next year. What we are talking about is very difficult to track because we’re talking about individual cases and the sample size is literally one. Every single person is going to have a different track.

Dale: Those older metrics are pass through metrics. They go from one educational institution to another, and that’s they don’t actually figure out how to get them out into the world very well.

And I thought that the big challenge I in California had been involved with community colleges putting some makerspaces in a couple of years. And watching and getting to know some of the students at that level. And I’m really interested in a sort of, post high school graduate and, particularly in rural communities, what opportunities do they have if they don’t go to college?

And often though, for them going to college, they don’t get any better understanding of who they are and what they can do. They’re just on another set of requirements that they have to fulfill to pass on to the next level, as opposed to, Hey, I’m good at this. Or I like this and I, I think FabLabs and makerspaces places where they can come in and say, can I do this?

And then they figure out they can and they could do something else too. For particular kids that have had bad experiences learning because learning is boring and learning is traditionally, listen to what I say and remember it when the test comes, as opposed to watch me do this. And then you try, which is at the heart of the maker movement, really. Experiment. Try to do something and figure it out. I think if you can match that sort of formation of a person, that they understand what they can do and what they like to do. And then outside there in the world, you have opportunities that need people who can do certain things like solve problems or use technology in different ways. And th that’s mapping, it doesn’t necessarily mean just cause you like to do something, it’s an opportunity out there, but you can work those directions together. It’s not just getting it a degree. It’s actually figuring out where you want to go.

Tim: Absolutely.

Jim: And I would say even on a personal level that working in a makerspace gives you the self-efficacy to.know, that you can learn stuff and learn to do things that you didn’t know you could do.

And we did the STEM program each year. Verizon sponsors that for middle school girls. And I’m telling you, many of those girls will go into their adult life and they will not be afraid to learn how to do stuff around their house. And if you think about how much money somebody would save over a lifetime, if the rank and file little plumbing jobs, and little repair jobs around the house, they could figure out how to do themselves.

Instead of having to call up a repair person who, around here, you can’t get a plumber or a lot of those people to show up. We say it as a, just a thing that helps them in all areas of their life, whether it’s personal or professional or even academic. Many times the boring classes, even the stuff that they’re trying to teach, becomes a little more relevant after they’ve had a little bit of experience in the makerspace.

Dale: Yeah some of it’s to build confidence that they can learn these things. And even with technology, it’s you can just take the point of view. It’s a big mystery. I don’t understand how it works, so you can figure out, I can understand this and I can gain a level of control over it that other people have.

So another program I saw in your newsletter is that you have a food lab.

Jim: Right. Oh, that was an interesting development. We had done two of these stem programs with Verizon, which consists of a three week day camp in the summer. And then once a month followup, Saturdays through the school year. And they put that all on pause in 2020, because of COVID. And I guess they decided to go ahead and let us apply for some grant money in 2020, especially in a way that would deal with food insecurity.

A Food Fab Lab session

We put together this thing called Fab Food Lab and it’s a series of how- to things all to do with food. Some of it’s how to cook food. Some of it’s how to grow food, even compost food.

We had one session on campfire cooking, which was really popular actually. And we’ve done some things we call Kitchen Kids where we take about that age middle school sort of age kids and help them do basic recipes in a kitchen. And so that’s ongoing.

Dale: I guess what I like about those programs, you and I probably know that there are some people that know what a makerspace is and show up. They’re interested in 3d printing or maybe like Wesley. He was interested in drones. There are people that don’t have a clue what you might do in one of these areas. And so welcoming new people to the space, I think is important.

Jim: Yes, pretty much anything that we can do to get people and their parents out here. Finally, after seven years, we’ve got a really nice looking, pretty decent tri-fold brochure. So everything, unlike some parts of the country, everything hasn’t gone digital here, there are some people that still read newspapers and you can still get mileage out of a newsletter and a tri-fold brochure.

 Then we’ve adapted one of those to target toward business owners. We’ve not ever done a very good job, really marketing ourselves to business owners and letting them know what we have here that they can use to build and improve their businesses.

And so we’re just getting ready to try to figure out how to distribute that to businesses in the area. But it is an ongoing challenge because there are plenty of people in the world that still don’t know, have any idea what you mean when you say makerspace or FabLabs.

Dale: Tim, tell me a bit about your program your guitar fab factory.

Tim: Yeah, the guitar factory program was an idea that I had after a few semesters teaching the STEM guitar programs curriculum. So the STEM guitar program, the NSF grant funded program based at Sinclair Community College in Ohio they they presented at the US FabLab symposium 2017. I believe in Edwardsville, Illinois, just over the river from St. Louis. We attended and we were impressed. And the guitars that they had there were really beautiful and really unique. And we just thought this is something we’ve got to figure out how to do. And they offered us summertime training workshop, which I attended at Oklahoma City. We’re in a small town, in a remote part of the state. We have to travel to do all this stuff. And so it’s a big deal to drive several hours away and attend a training workshop all week. But Jim agreed to let me do it. He did my job two while I was gallavanting and building a guitar. But but man, it is so gratifying to realize that you can build a playable, sounds great, looks great electric guitar with your own two hands. The tools are really not that complicated.

There’s a little bit of electronics, a little bit of woodwork. It will quite a bit of work working actually, but but you can just see how simple an instrument, the electric guitar actually is. We taught the class one semester using some sort of partially built kits and really focused a lot on the wood finishing techniques and paint jobs, and just neat stuff like that.

We did some hydro dipping, where you get the tank and the paint on top. Swirling designs. And it turned out really well. And we will continue to offer that class as long as there’s interest in it. The first class, I think, we had six participants. We got up to eight, we got up to ten. One semester I think we had 12 people in the class with four wait-listed and we really can’t accommodate more than about 12. There’s one instructor. Space is quite limited. Tools are limited as well. As you can imagine, the luthier tools you use for a guitar builder are quite specialized, but one of the gentlemen in the first class we taught, his name is Steve Reed and he operates a business called Mr. Reed’s Workshop. And he is a very accomplished luthier, an engineer by training, but Steve is a tremendous asset and has helped me teach the class.

Dale: So he’s helping you teach that. That’s great.

Tim: If anybody asks me a question, I just tell them to go talk to Steve. So I’m, I am the instructor in as much as I’m the cheerleader and I’m the ICC staff person.

Dale: It’s something also that even in a small community, you have talented people there that, are teaching say at the college here, but you can connect youth to them. You can connect people that have projects or ideas. And they’re often very generous with their time.

Tim: Yes. And not to make too much of a stereotype of college faculty. But I think sometimes the people who are not faculty at the college tend to be a little bit more open minded about the content that they are really experts in. So there’s not this barrier that exists between when you have someone that’s not actually paid to be an instructor, but somebody who is offering their knowledge freely to share with eager learners as it is.

So the guitar factory concept is an opportunity for us to incorporate a whole bunch of different skilled positions, jobs if you want to consider them that. But woodworking, CNC operation, design, graphic design, marketing, inventory, accounting, and the list goes on.

So we really do have this concept that we could operate a guitar factory, building electric guitars using our CNC machines. And then it could be students, or it can be FabLab members running this factory and performing all of the tasks, rotating through all the positions. So they get the cross training in all those..

And at some point, they’re going to say, you know what? I really like to do more of this, or I really like to do more of that. It’s not the case probably that we will nail them down into one position for a really long time until they decide, Nope, that’s not for me. We really want them quickly to try a whole bunch of stuff.

Dale: Often a lot of workforce development is backward looking in terms of these were jobs that we used to have need of, and they’re still around to some degree and in cases of welders and such, but I really think the maker world is creating a new kind of person that can be plugged into lots of different work opportunities. Just if you take your example, Tim, again, you didn’t train for the job you have today, right? You had developed foreign languages. It said that nobody would say that’s the straight path to becoming a makerspace manager or running a guitar factory.

Jim: We see two kinds of companies, manufacturers, let’s say in the world, I call them the handle pullers. Those are the companies that just want everybody to do the same thing every day and learn to do it as fast as they can. And by the way, I think those are going to be the ones that struggle as we move further into this global marketplace, are going to find it harder and harder to be competitive for

Dale: Or those jobs will be replaced by robots.

Jim: That’s a whole nother thing, but we’ve got we’ve got a company here that makes injection molds, and he’s told us that he said, look, I’ve got machines here that there’s no way that some community college program is going to show them how to use this machine sitting over here in the corner.

But if somebody comes in that knows a lot of different things on, then they have the confidence to new learn new things. Then I know that I’m going to be able to train them to use this machine. And if I need a banner, they can go back to the FabLab and they know how to print a banner. But anyway, that was that was the idea.

And we actually attempted to launch a program that we call it FabForce and Tim coined that phrase, we call it FabForce and then our state board of Regents, who is in control of the universities and the community colleges, they don’t get it. So they put it on what they call hold, which means that we can’t get any funding for it.

It’s in limbo right now, but we’re informally still offering that to some students, but you’re very right. It’s the politicians and the policy makers that somehow need to get this message. So we all have to get political, even if we don’t want to change the message..

Dale: I agree. You’ve mentioned the U S FabLab network. Is that still operating?

Jim: We don’t think so. We thought it was pretty good because the symposiums were fairly well attended. And we were contacted by one of the last guys to chair it. He pretty much asked us if we did. Is that a fair statement, Tim? If we’d take it over and try to get it going again.

Tim: There’s a community of people who still want to participate in that and want to support and develop the US FabLab Network. And yeah, we have been approached to take over leadership roles with them.

Dale: We then talked about the difference between makerspaces at community colleges versus those at four-year universities.

Jim: The equipment is not the most important thing it’s important, but building that community of makers is the important part.

And I think sometimes the four year universities, especially if they get too much alumni money, they’ll put three or four or five million into a place. And then they can’t figure out how to get the community to come in and use it. And you’ve probably seen that. We know one that I won’t name. We know one that got a lot of money like that, but they’re charging 80 or $90 a month. And that will never fly in a market like ours. So we got to figure out a way to keep it down around that $125 or $150 a year range.

Dale: I think one of the really positive things you do and it is old fashioned is to publish this newsletter that you do. The FabLab Blab. And I think It’s just one of the responsibilities a makerspace should take on and execute some way is to talk about what’s going on in the space.

Not just that we have the space, but what’s happening because we have the space, what are people doing in it? And I thought you did a nice job in that there’s things that you’re trying to direct. There’s potentially things that your members are doing and it deserves recognition. It deserves to be known.

Jim: I wanted to say of the newsletter, it is old school, but you just wouldn’t believe how much good we get from that. We send out nearly 2,400 copies of them. Of course, we don’t know how many end up in junk folders and all that, but the contact with you and there are probably at least five or six other contacts. Cause we send them out all over.

We’ve got probably five or six contacts that are like big, gonna end up being big opportunities for us. And that’s great people like getting that.

Dale: Doing a website, newsletter, whatever, but not just like a static website, but talking about who’s doing what. And I think there’s so much value just take the guitar program, for example. And this in a positive way, you copied it from someone else and made it your own.

That’s how making works. That’s how actually a lot of innovation works.

Tim: Very enthusiastic that we were carrying

Dale: or it’s you tip your hat and say, thank you very much for your interest and can I help you? And it’s because they figured some things out. And you can build on that and they can, you can even, it’s very much in tune with open source ideas. Although it’s not code, it’s just, you take a project. It’s got some recipes in it. You share back, what you improvements are and you begin to form a community around that. So that there’s lots of different places doing guitar work.

And there’s, if you think about a lot of the dormant industries in America, you could slowly nurture them back to life by having projects like these, and say, just one small community after another. There’s going to be young people interested in this and they’ll begin to get better at it.

And, one day they could be world-class at what they do, but they have to start somewhere.

Tim: It feels like just a great irony of the age of globalization we live in that in order for our communities to really thrive, we need to look within and we need to develop our own. We almost need our bigger communities to get smaller.

We really think that a more sustainable approach for the future is for every small community to have some kind of a makerspace and nothing would make us happier than for the small towns, five, 10 miles from here to have their own small makerspace.

Dale: Jim and Tim, thank you very much for your time. I do think they’re really great lessons that people can learn from Independence Community College from independence, Kansas. Unfortunately I don’t think that politicians get it yet, but it’s by actually thinking small about some of these problems and just finding places to develop that expertise and have the opportunity to get young people engaged by this is an opportunity for them.

Jim: We’ve spent 60 years telling the youth that they have to go somewhere else to find their opportunities. And we need to change that message and show them the iceberg below the water surface and that there’s opportunities in these small towns because people need things done..

Dale: Exactly. Guys, thanks for your time today. Really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

Jim: Thank you very much.

Photos: Courtesy of FabLab ICC.


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