Below is Steve Rainwater’s response to a few questions about the start of the Dallas Maker Space provided in March of 2017.
>> Q1 When roughly did DPRG move into and out of the facility (“the warehouse”) that was provided by Mike Dodson?
The photos in the DPRG warehouse photo gallery are chronological and provide a pretty good visual history of the place. 28 July 2009 was our last official day in the warehouse. Doug Emes and I were the last two out the door. He locked it for the last time and I shot the photo:
>> Q2: Who were the main participants in getting the maker space project going?
Ed and I did most of the initial brainstorming in the months leading up to the announcement in 2010, but shortly after that the DPRG formed the makerspace steering committee and the group doing the work expanded. Ed was DPRG president at the time. He made the first official announcement in Jan 2010 on the list:
The first makerspace meeting was held in Feb 2010 and you can follow the meeting notes here to figure out who was involved from that point on:
The DPRG makerspace steering committee consisted of DPRG members and DMS members. They were responsible for most of the hard work of getting DMS booted up during 2010. I think it was Alyssa Pipe, Eric Chaney, Peter Smith, Mark Havens, Andrew LeCodey, Paul Wilson, Steve Rainwater, and Ed Paradis. Most of them are in this pic I think:
After the spin off, the first DMS board of directors took over from the DPRG makerspace steering committee in 2011, and the steering committee disbanded. Due to some internal politics, there was a little tension between the two organizations and it was decided not to have any DPRG members on the DMS board of directors, so I was out at that point, sticking with the DPRG and I think Alyssa temporarily dropped DPRG membership and joined the DMS board (I think that’s right but my memory gets hazy at the point I dropped out of active participation with the DMS board).
>> Q3: My understanding is that the idea grew from DPRG losing its meeting space. Is this true?
My version of the story (there may be others?) is that the famous lightening strike on the warehouse in 2007 was the event that snowballed into the makerspace. For those who weren’t around then, we’d been enjoying the warehouse for a few years, things were rolling along really well, RBNOs were bigger than ever, we even held a couple of RoboRamas at the warehouse. One day there was a massive lightening strike that vaporized the electric meter and power lines to the warehouse. Pics here of course:
Immediately following the lighting strike, several of us were at the warehouse assessing the damage and thinking we’d have to cancel the next RBNO. There was no power, so we ended up sitting in the pitch black interior, drinking a few beers and getting a bit philosophical about the future. Doug Emes was there. Ed Paradis was there. I was there. Maybe a couple of others? We talked about how important the warehouse had become to the group dynamic of the DPRG. We knew Mike Dodson was going to retire eventually and we’d lose the warehouse. And we talked about the need to find a long term solution for providing the DPRG with a similar space.
Nothing came of it that night but it’s really the point at which Ed and I started casting around for a way to do it. The next year, we went to the 2008 Maker Faire in Austin, TX. That’s when full impact of the growing maker movement hit us and by the time the 2009 Austin Maker Faire rolled around, we were talking about the possibility of the DPRG either becoming a hackerspace or spinning one off in a way that would allow the DPRG to be some kind of satellite org that could use their space. When we finally lost the warehouse that year, it provided the final kick we needed to set things in motion.