A City of Makers


Last June President Obama hosted the inaugural White House Maker Faire and welcomed creative people of all ages developing innovative solutions to a wide array of problems. In celebrating the maker spirit the United States was built upon, he issued a call to action that, “every company, every college, every community, every citizen joins us as we lift up makers and builders and doers across the country.”

This summer the White House doubled down on their support of the movement by celebrating a Week of Making from June 12-18. The week coincides with the National Maker Faire, bringing together makers from across the country and federal agencies, such as NASA, the Department of Education and National Science Foundation.

Locally the maker movement is alive and well and gaining significant traction in our community. Last year businesses located on First and Second Streets, between Greenwood and Olney Avenues, formed Bend’s Maker District and a makerspace called the DIY Cave opened in the former Pakit building on Bend’s eastside. And, acting as a hub for Central Oregon’s growing makers scene, is the nonprofit the High Desert Makers.

“Besides developing a new wave of domestic manufacturing jobs, the Maker movement is also clearly part of the next wave of tech with democratized technology and the emerging Internet of Things,” explains Tierney O’Dea Booker, vice president of the HDM.

While the HDM is available to offer support through marketing and general awareness, they are most recently excited about the physical manifestation of their work — The High Desert Maker Mill.

The High Desert Maker Mill, powered by Cascade Divide, is Central Oregon’s largest makerspace or community-oriented workspace for hands-on projects. The HDM has been fundraising and looking for permanent space since its inception in 2013. The space for invention, creative collaboration and learning is open to everyone, from the hobbyist to emerging entrepreneurs.

“Our goal is to launch the High Desert Maker Mill as an open platform where people can learn hands-on skills and create, says HDM President Scot Brees.

The High Desert Maker Mill came together after a fortuitous meeting of Brees and Cascade Divide senior vice president, Jeff Henry at the Bend Venture Conference last November. Cascade Divide had purchased the 15,000-square-foot factory, once occupied by bioscience company Suterra, in 2012. The warehouse, located at 213 SW Columbia Street, was slated to be converted into a data center, however, the conversion was deemed too cost prohibitive to complete. It was soon realized the HDM would be a perfect fit to share the space.

The 7,000 square feet of makerspace is divided into sections, ranging from workbenches to metalworking and woodworking areas. 3-D printers and scanners, as well as traditional tools, line each room. The primary membership of $100 per month includes access to the design center, WIFI community lounge, 10 percent discount on workshops and classes, tool vault privileges, open workbenches and basic safety training on larger equipment. Makers can also rent dedicated workspace for $250 per month. Prior to the grand opening, founder memberships will be available to recognize community members contributing to the launch of the makerspace.

“Our team and volunteers are so excited to share their knowledge, and we know this community will only continue to grow with the opening of the High Desert Maker Mill,” says O’Dea Booker.

The HDM believe they will fill a vital role in the Central Oregon community by accompanying the growth of a diversified business sector not reliant upon tourism or a fluctuating real estate market. The HDM continues to teach new skills and assist manufacturing companies in becoming future job creators.

Secondly, the HDM mission fits with the increased desire for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Through classes geared toward children, HDM is excited to share their excitement and knowledge to future generations.

The High Desert Maker Mill will regularly feature classes and events such as the Made at the Mill.” The last “Made at the Mill showcased the inexpensive redesign and 3-D printing of an expensive plastic car part. In addition, High Desert Maker Mill and Etch N Cut are hosting meetups to show people how the laser works, what materials can be used and project ideas.

High Desert Maker Mill
213 SW Columbia Street, Bend, Oregon 97702, http://makermill.org
President: Scot Brees
Employees: A volunteer-based nonprofit with a 7 member board
Established: 2015
Services: The High Desert Maker Mill will include resources for rapid prototyping, like 3D scanning and printing – and craftsman and artisanal trades including metal shop and woodworking.
Hot News: The High Desert Makers recently signed a lease to occupy 7,000 square feet of Cascade Divide’s warehouse.
Outlook for Growth: With growing number of participants, and backing from the White House, the Maker movement is strong throughout the United States, and especially here in Central Oregon.

(Photo above: High Desert Makers president Scot Brees standing inside their new makerspace | Photo by Gregg Morris)


About Author

Bend-based freelance writer Gregg Morris honed his wit in suburban Michigan and his gift for the written word at Michigan State University. When not writing, Gregg can be found riding his bike, earning his turns, or playing guitar alongside his wife and daughter.

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