The world needs a lot of fixin'. These are old, old idea drafts from over a year ago (in some cases much longer ago) on how to do a bit of it - it's interesting to see where they came from and where they are now.
Maker House v.N.0
What actually happened: http://makerhouse.com
The original proposal:
A co-op of hackers (initially engineers) living in a house with great project capabilities - machining, fabrication, rooms for brainstorming, project space, etc.as well as, eventually, things like art, music, teaching, etc. It's meant to be a space that the hackers can use themselves, but also a place where they can bring others in the community in to do projects; I'm not sure what the right balance between the two is yet.
One requirement of Maker House is that in order to live there, you've got to have a project that's open. It can be for work or not, it can be only-you or not, but you have to be able to talk to people about it, share it with them, allow them to participate somehow even if it's helping them to start their own separate instance.
I'm also torn between having the hackers pay rent and have it just be a really awesome co-op, which would let less experienced hackers participate more easily, and having it be more like a fellowship (Eyebeam-style) where room and board and a small stipend are paid and doing Maker House is like your "job." Perhaps it could be a mix of both - residents could pay to stay there normally, or apply for a full-time house fellowship that makes them the stewards/groundskeepers/"parents"/mentors of the house.
Actually, the latter is rather attractive. It's almost like an apprenticeship model. And if you enlarge the population size and make it not a house... how could you do this? In a large house with rooms for perhaps a dozen people, 10 could be normal residents, leaving 2 positions for 1-year fellowships. The residents would then pay 120% of their share of rent, utilities, and food. This isn't as bad as it sounds - for instance, instead of paying $500/mo, pay $600.
Leases would be for one year terms. Fellowship recipients are chosen by the next year's tenants by consensus - they can either be current residents or really cool outside people they'd like to live with.
"Cafepress-like business that does fab/delivery for open engineering projects" (never had a good name, originally called 'hackronym,' but that was repurposed as my research site)
What actually happened: Nothing yet that I'd call concrete.
The original idea:
Barriers to open engineering:
• Wait, you can do that?
• Lack of existing framework to build from
• Access to fabrication facilities and tools (both physical and software)
• Lack of knowledge
• Difficulty of documentation and collaboration... how do you find these projects?
• No automatic way to "get" open-engineered projects (apt-get install LAWNMOWER!!!) but it's such a hassle to get things manufactured and sold.
• Manufacturing is expensive!
What actually happened: Others beat us to the punch in a marvelous way - see http://saturdayhouse.org for one. I'm still keeping my eyes open for opportunities to do something like this in Chicago and/or Boston... if I come back to Boston in the fall, Maker House will probably expand and transform into it, and over the summer I'm kind of hoping the ILXO office will also serve as an open learning space.
The original idea (based on John Holt's description of the difference between Schools and s-chools):
Problem: free schools have a hard time finding meeting places.
Solution: Don't build new ones. Find existing buildings and get them to open themselves up, for free, to s-chool activities, in exchange for free maintenance and repair by volunteer crews.