Geek Speak: Emily Smith, organizer of Vancouver Mini Maker Faire
Emily Smith says the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire will be a “festival to celebrate anybody who makes anything”. The Strathcona resident is one of the organizers of the DIY-focused event, which will take place on June 25 and 26 at the Great Northern Way Campus.
A Mini Maker Faire is smaller, community-driven version of the large Maker Faire festivals held by the publishers of Make magazine since 2006. Vancouver’s family-friendly event will feature lots of makers, a speaker series, and workshops on glass making, silkscreening, creating ugly creatures, and more.
Born in Windsor, Ontario, Smith is about to turn 27 years old. By day, she’s a graphic and interaction designer and a blogger for Apartment Therapy’s Re-Nest. Smith is a member of the Vancouver Hack Space and organizes its craft nights. As a fibre-arts enthusiast, she knits and spins and dyes wool.
The Georgia Straight interviewed Smith by phone.
What is Maker Faire?
It’s a giant DIY festival based on anybody who’s making anything. It’s about bringing different groups together to share skills, resources, and ideas, in a nutshell.
What’s in it for tech geeks?
There’s going to be RepRaps, which are 3-D printers that can print themselves. There’s going to be open-source software, electronic music, and electronic-music setups. There’s going to be robots. The Vancouver Robotics Club is coming out. It scales from small-scale Arduino stuff to giant sculptures. I think there’s some interest in there, in how things move. And also MakerBots too.
How did you get into DIY and maker culture?
Well, I’m a graphic designer, so I spend a lot of time on the computer, and I needed an outlet. So, I got really into knitting, because it’s more tactile. I starting knitting and spinning. I started following Craft magazine, and I found it really inspiring—a lot of the projects.
I kind of got into maker culture and became a member of the Vancouver Hack Space, and that’s when things really exploded for me. I started organizing nights and getting groups together, and it sort of became its own thing.
Why is Vancouver a good spot for a Mini Maker Faire?
Because, right now, I think there’s a lot of groups that are operating separately from one another, but they’re doing a lot of the same things. Just from meeting with people leading up to the event, there’s been a lot of cross-overs in spaces. There’s a few spaces that have similar equipment to the hack space. There’s a bunch of people that want to make their own CNC machines.
Basically, I think it’s a great opportunity to bring those groups together, so they can start sharing those ideas. So, really, the reason that I think it’s happening in Vancouver is that community is really strong and it really exists. It’s a really creative environment. We had a huge maker intake, a lot of interest from people who wanted to participate. It was pretty cool.
Every Friday, Geek Speak catches up with someone in Vancouver’s technology sector, video-game industry, or social-media scene. Who should we interview next? Tell Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.