Talent Maker City

October 2019

Countryside Village RetirementAlready popular in many larger cities throughout the country, makerspaces are do-it-yourself places where people can gather to create, learn, and share ideas. The makerspace membership model is similar to that of a fitness gym. Instead of treadmills and weights, however, a makerspace offers access to a wide array of tools, technology, and space in which to create meaningful art and develop do-it-yourself skills.

TMC’s 3,700 sq ft makerspace at 304 E. Main St in Talent is where curious minds can participate in frequent project-based workshops and get hands-on experience with new and old technologies from band saws to 3D printers and laser cutters. While most adult workshops are offered during evenings and weekends, they also host youth workshops, field trips, and professional development classes during the week.

The TNR recently had the chance to ask TMC’s Executive Director Ryan Wilcoxson a few questions.

Explain how TMC made it to where it is today:
Talent Maker City was officially established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in December 2016 by six founding members committed to establishing a thriving maker ecosystem based in Talent, serving the entire Rogue Valley. In the Summer of 2017, TMC began developing and running STEAM-based maker workshops for middle and high-school youth at schools from Talent to Grants Pass. During that time, we also began offering adult workshops at wine bars, goat farms, Ashland High School, and anywhere else that would have us as we worked toward finding our own space out of which we could base our unique hands-on programming and workshops. In the Summer of 2018, the opportunity to lease 3700sq.ft. in downtown Talent (formerly the ABT call center) presented itself, we jumped on it, renovated, and in January 2018, we began offering workshops, after-school programs, and Summer STEAM Camps at our own makerspace facility, right next to The Grotto Pizzeria. Recently, on September 21, we began selling memberships, giving the general public access to TMC’s tools, equipment, and space to do anything from start their own maker microbusiness, acquire new skills, learn and share ideas with other makers, and create cool stuff.

Your backgrounds:
TMC’s staff and board of directors hail from all over North America, from New Jersey to Mexico to a few native Oregonians who all bring a diverse set of skills and professional backgrounds to our team. Time lived in Talent ranges from decades to several years. We do have board members who live in surrounding towns, but we all share the common goal of creating a thriving maker ecosystem to support a more connected, more creative, more prosperous Southern Oregon.

What motivated you to create this organization:
Being a nonprofit organization, Talent Maker City has no owner. We do, however, have dedicated staff and volunteers who each bring something unique to the organization. Our motivation to start Talent Maker City began in Winter of 2015 when several founding members attended a talk by Ilana Pruess of RecastCity at Talent’s Town Hall. We didn’t all know each other at that point, but Ms. Pruess’ ideas on how craft manufacturing can revitalize flagging downtown districts and create a more connected community made a serious impression on each of us. Fast forward to May of 2016, a small group of Talentonians who attended the RecastCity presentation were selected as one of 13 North American cities to attend Etsy’s inaugural MakerCities Summit in Brooklyn where we learned the importance of creative communities in creating sustainable local economies. Building a more connected, more creative, and more prosperous community continues to motivate all who are involved in Talent Maker City.

Talent Maker City Staff:
Ryan Wilcoxson, Executive Director: Ryan has worked most of his career in media design and development. He moved to Talent from Oakland, CA in 2009 seeking a change of pace and a house with a garage so that he could pursue woodworking as an antidote to staring at computers all day. In 2016, after attending the Etsy MakerCities Summit Brooklyn, Ryan began transitioning away from independent media design work to focus solely on starting up Talent Maker City and growing the nonprofit with the help of committed volunteers and involved community members.
Allison French, Programs Director: Alli transplanted to Southern Oregon from the Bay Area more than 23 years ago to attend SOU for her Masters in Teaching. Having taught at Talent Middle School, Ashland High School and Southern Oregon University, Alli made her dream job at TMC where she leverages her ‘maker mindset’ to continue spreading her love of working with youth and adults and promoting innovation in education.

Talent Maker City Board of Directors:
Joe DiGiuseppe, Chair: Joe is a manufacturing professional & artist with experience in community building. He co-founded two organizations in Philadelphia that offer resources and support to creative entrepreneurs, focusing on the advancement of skills and knowledge of marginalized individuals. Joe is a strong believer in the sharing of resources, skills and knowledge.

Tom Cline, Vice Chair/Treasurer: Tom grew up in New Jersey before moving out to Oregon in 2012 to be a manager at a major retailer in Medford. In 2011 he completed a 6 month thru hike of the Appalachian trail. He is a woodworker and an aspiring metal worker.

Robyn Janssen: Robyn was born and raised in Southern Oregon and at a young age, discovered her love and talent for art. Robyn earned her Bachelors of Science in Art, painting at Southern Oregon University. Robyn also studied briefly at the Art Institute of Portland for Interior Design which she continues to consult on and study as one of her true passions.

Laura Quintero Anton: A recent immigrant, Laura strongly identifies as a fiercely independent Mexican woman and feminist. Her art and crafts are primarily inspired by the many indigenous traditions of her country. Laura has found a place to share her art, culture, passion, and humanity at Talent Maker City.
Stephanie Dolan: Stephanie is a Talent-based attorney, licensed in both Oregon and California, who specializes in business startups and nonprofit law. Stephanie has been a lawyer for 20 years, and her practice also includes Native American issues, employment law, family law, estate planning, and appellate practice.

Darby Ayers-Flood: Darby is the current mayor of Talent, Oregon. She has been a Talent City Official since 2001. Darby endeavors to enable the direct connection between creating a regional reputation for product innovation and drawing attention to our locally based economy in order to realize a robust “live where you work prosperity.”

What other services or products do you offer your customers?
Our customer base is diverse and so are the services that we offer. Our corporate and education clients utilize our skill set and capacity to develop and deliver unique STEAM-based programming to middle and high-school youth. We offer frequent project-based workshops for adults with two objectives. First, to get people working with their hands to simply have fun and reconnect them with their Oregonian do-it-yourself spirit. Secondly, our intro workshops are opportunities for makers to learn how to safely and sensibly use the myriad tools and equipment offered at our makerspace facility.

As of September 21, Talent Maker City is offering maker memberships to the general public! Now, just like a gym membership, our makers have full access to the shop and equipment, provided they’ve been cleared by staff on the safe and sensible usage of the tools they choose to use.

Workshops schedule: www.talentmakercity.org/workshops
Memberships: www.talentmakercity.org/memberships
Monthly Maker: $45/mo (includes 2 free equipment training sessions and 20% off all workshops)
Yearly Maker: $405/yr if purchased before Dec. 31, 2019 (That’s three months free, includes 2 free equipment training sessions, and 20% off all workshops)
Day Pass: $10/day
Corporate memberships available upon request.

Address: 304 E. Main Street, Talent, OR 97540 (Right next door to The Grotto Pizzeria)
Phone number: (541)897-4477
Website: www.talentmakercity.org