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Are We There Yet?

Warning: The following story might amaze you.

I just returned from an incredible trip to Virginia. The reason for this visit is what is amazing. My wife is very into genealogy (emphasis on very, ha!). A couple years ago she took a DNA test through After looking at her results and her ethnicity breakdown, I became very interested and decided that I too would have a DNA test done. My daughter got into this as well and decided that she would like to have a DNA test for her birthday. Cool. A little family bonding over genealogy. One important note for this story is that my daughter was adopted from China in 2005. We expected her results to simply tell us what extent she was Han Chinese. No surprises. Boy, we were very wrong. Ancestry matches you with others with whom you share DNA and her results showed that she matched as a direct relative with someone in Virginia. What!? After several emails to Ancestry and eventually, to her match, we found that my daughter has a sister who lives about an hour out of D.C. in Virginia. Incredible. We met the family over a Thanksgiving break a couple of years ago and over the last couple of years they have corresponded on a regular basis and her sister came and spent a week with us over the summer. Her sister is a ballerina and was dancing in her final Nutcracker performance this past week. She doesn't plan to continue dancing when she goes to college, so this was one of her final performances, so we packed up the car and decided to go see her dance.

What does this have to do with makerspaces or the maker movement? Good question. While we were in Virginia, we had the pleasure of staying in an Airbnb owned by a friend of my daughter's sister's family. She is a fantastic tile maker and her husband is an accomplished author. My daughter's mother is a painter and her father is a photographer, so we were surrounded by incredible, creative and talented people for the entire weekend. There is nothing like being around successful, creative people to make you stop and ask yourself "what have I done?" Call it a creative inferiority complex, but it really made me reflect on what I have done and where I am headed.

'Tis the season, right. The end of the year is the time to reflect on where we have been and where we are going. I have been thinking about this as a maker and podcaster. As a maker, this past year has been really pretty great. I have a ton of digital creations that I have accumulated over the course of the year from logo designs to weird abstract bits of computer code that I have written. I am in the middle of several physical products that I am creating as well. I have an analog synthesizer that I am building at home, a 2d plotter that I am making at work, and lots of t-shirts, bags, and other products that I have created. Yet, I still feel like I haven't accomplished as much as I would like. In fact, I'm not sure what that would even look like. Am I just on some weird hedonic treadmill that compels me to continually create and never feel satisfied? Anybody else feel this way?

All of this has me thinking about the broader maker movement as well. Where are we heading? Do we have a cohesive and coherent purpose? Should we? It feels like we are fractured and moving in so many directions at the same time. Maybe this comes from the fact that being a maker is a really big tent and has so many different perspectives. However, I find myself feeling very impatient about things. I want more people to participate. More people to understand and appreciate the work that is out there.

When I started Maker Riot, I wanted to hear as many voices as I could from the maker movement; partly because I wanted to become a better maker, but also because I thought it might be helpful to other makers out there looking for voices in the maker movement to help them move forward. My hope for the new year is to help you, and me, become better makers. To help us spend more time building relationships in the community. I want to help you become a better maker or makerspace, or whatever. Let me know what I can do. Let's connect and build a better and stronger maker movement.

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