Our industry is rife with examples of ingenuity, inventiveness and the independent spirit, so it’s not surprising that meeting and event planners are embracing the growing maker movement, which focuses on the do-it-yourself—often technologybased—artisan community. The maker movement is well represented in the Northwest and off ers both team-building opportunities and venue options for corporate and private groups.
“[The maker movement] is a response to the past 20 years of really mass-produced, low-quality, low-cost items,” explains Matt Preston, communications and marketing director of ADX in Portland, Oregon. “There’s been a removal of trade and art skills in K–12 education. There’s been a whole generation of people who have had no access to woodworking, metalworking and crafts like that. Now there’s this movement to get back to that old-school tradition of crafts, to be able to learn how to use your hands again. We consider the term ‘maker’ to include anybody who is taking raw materials and turning them into products. There have been a few maker movements in our country; the last one prior to now came after World War II. Outside of just the physical making of products, the maker movement really focuses on community, working locally, supporting local businesses and paying fair wages.”
The membership-based ADX—which is shorthand for Art Design Portland—opened in June 2011 and is essentially, says Preston, a “gym for making.” While immersed in Portland’s creative community, founder Kelley Roy identified a strong need for shared tools, space and knowledge in the growing maker culture. Kelley and a small band of thinkers and makers took over a warehouse in the heart of the southeast end of the city and established the organization. ADX has incubated more than 100 businesses and provided a home away from home for thousands of designers, builders, entrepreneurs, hobbyists and artists.
“We have a wood shop, metal shop, screen printing, jewelry making and fashion, and we also have a full-time design and fabrication house,” Preston says. “There is 14,000 square feet of space and about a million dollars’ worth of industrial power tools. We provide spaces for people who can’t afford to purchase their own wood shop, metal shop and things of that like. Instead of buying all of the equipment yourself, you get to use our tools. We also have classes.”
Private groups can rent the 3,500-squarefoot industrial loading-bay area. The space includes a kitchen (groups must provide their own caterers) and can accommodate as many as 40 guests for a seated dinner and as many as 50 for a standing cocktail party.
Team-building is also an option at ADX. The two most popular group activities are creating Edison-bulb lamps and making screenprinted tote bags, posters and shirts from artisan-drawn, iconic Portland imagery. Other team-building classes include constructing benches using welding and woodworking techniques, building 30-foot-tall Adirondack chairs and crafting picture frames.
“There’s nothing else quite like ADX around here,” says Preston. “It’s just such a unique experience to come in and use these traditional craft tools and skills with your employees.”
In Seattle, the nonprofit organization Seattle ReCreative opened two years ago. The organization is dedicated to promoting creativity, community and environmental stewardship through creative reuse and art education.
“We’re a creative reuse store and community art center,” says Executive Director Jenna Boitano. “We’re on the low-tech end of the maker movement. We have a community workshop where people can actually drop in and use the space to make something. We have activities, such as sewing, weaving, bookbinding, printmaking, woodworking and collaborative art projects.”
Seattle ReCreative serves as a gathering spot for new and experienced makers to connect. Its community workspace focuses on fostering creativity, conservation and ingenuity in a setting that is open and helpful to makers of all ages and backgrounds. “We’re the only makertype place in the Seattle area that has all of the materials that people need,” says Boitano. “We also do workshops and classes.”
And for groups who can’t make it to Seattle ReCreative, Seattle ReCreative can make it to your group. “We have a classroom that can host up to 15 guests and a space upstairs that can host up to 25 guests seated and up to 50 standing,” says Boitano. “But most of the time we take team-building activities to where groups are holding their meetings and events. We get a lot of donated materials and provide them for the team-building activities. We can tailor the activities to the group, whether it’s a small group or a large one.”