Campbell Boyer: He’s a maker, she’s a maker … wouldn’t you like to be a maker, too?

By Campbell Boyer

With all the national press about the National Day of Making, the folks that brought you last year’s Louisville Mini Maker Faire would like to invite you to be a maker, too.

It seems like we in Louisville frequently feel that we’re slightly behind the times. And please, do not send me the Mark Twain attributed quote. But as far as “making” goes, we are the envy of many neighboring cities.

call-to-makersAs one of the founding organizers of the Louisville Mini Maker Faire (along with Elizabeth Rounsavall, Kelby Price, and a cast of 10s), I have had the opportunity to visit a number of the hacker and maker spaces in the region, and they always marvel at the great resources we have here for makers and inventors.

From the informality of LVL1 to the funding by the Vogt Awards to the cutting edge research being done at the Speed School’s Rapid Prototyping Center, there is jealousy of the resources we have here. And it just keeps getting better.

Our mayor, Greg Fischer, was one of the first signatories of the Mayors Maker Challenge. Louisville Innovation Director Ted Smith is in Washington, D.C., with two of the leaders of FirstBuild — General Electric’s Crowdsourcing, Innovation and Maker Space. They are part of the White House’s Maker Faire, which is held in conjunction with the National Day of Making. (Thank you Ted, for taking LMMF’s postcards and a T-shirt up there with you!)

To get you started on your maker path, we’d like to recommend the following resources:



LVL1 is always the place to start for adult (and late teen) makers. In the middle of a move to their uber cool new digs in Butchertown (in the Pointe, the same building as Forest Giant), there will be some disruption in their force in late June/early July. But expect them to come out of the gate with some great maker classes as soon as they get settled in there.

Drones, Power Tool Drag Racing, and such have been mentioned. The region’s premier hackerspace (they have achieved Derby level status among hackers), their membership is always willing to offer advice and point folks to the resources they need.

They will not do your project for you, but they will make the suggestions that can make it great.

At LVL1, you can use the equipment for free (there is an occasional, very reasonable charge for supplies) as long as a member is in the building, but a monthly membership ($50) gives great support for the community and gets you in 24/7. The space is always open at 8 p.m. on Tuesday evenings and they love to give visitors the tour.

Velocity SI, just across the river in Jeffersonville, is offering great programming classes thanks to their partnership with Lexington’s Awesome, Inc., but the parents of the budding makers among you will like some of the hardware-ish classes their new staff person Mark Lorance has put together. He had me at Raspberry Pi. They may already be filled, but he tries to open new classes when the demand (and teachers) are there!

FirstBuild is one of the most exciting developments to hit our region in quite a while. A project of General Electric, it promises to allow tinkerers, entrepreneurs, and dreamers (prototypical makers), access to some fantastic advanced prototyping equipment. They are finishing their build out now and should be open by the later part of July, but you can become part of their community now by going to their website here.

U of L's boomerang rocket from last year's Makers Faire.

U of L’s boomerang rocket from last year’s Makers Faire

Okay, so now for a Louisville Mini Maker Faire plug!

On Sept. 27, two blocks of East Market Street in NuLu will be given over to makers, hackers, entrepreneurs, craftspeople, artists, and adventuresome youngsters of all ages.

We are looking for makers, sponsors, and volunteers to take and offer classes, to demonstrate what they make and how they make it, to man booths, to be part of our street team. Just ask us … we are flexible.

Our new newsletter will keep you up to date on maker classes, maker and hacker space news, and who is coming to town for Louisville’s Faire. About 17,000 of you enjoyed the Faire last year, this year promises to be bigger and even better!

Get LMMF info here.

So Louisville — get your make on! Make this your summer of making!