Boxes of potential11 August, 2010
Vancouver’s hackerspace VHS is not located in the best area. It’s a few blocks away from the notorious Hastings and Main, down a distinctly uninviting alley. Still, we found the place unbothered by anyone, and with considerable relief, shut the door on the drug dealers, hookers and rats and climbed up to the space.
The room is full of nerds. It’s covered in stickers from other hackerspaces. There are bags and drawers and boxes full of components. There’s a bench drill, a CNC machine, a sewing machine. There are notices and notes and injokes. There’s an optical fibre sign swiped from the science museum. There’s an arcade machine. There are rockets and computers and consoles and oscilloscopes and half-finished projects. It’s a den of tangentery 😀
It’s project night and some people are concentrating on building MintyBoosts. Others are sitting around discussing 27c3 or Burning Man, or trying to organise the shelves and being distracted by the contents.
They have a huge selection of components, free for members to use. Every box you open is full of potential (“ooh, what could I make with this?”). Someone brings a bag of LCDs; everyone grabs one like it’s a bag of sweets and the discussion turns to the correct protocol for driving them. Someone else offers to run a project night with them. Enthusiasm is high.
The contrast is weird, finding this friendly creativity in an apparently rough and destructive area. If I lived here I’d love to join in, but the location would be a significant barrier (getting your lazy apathetic ass out of the house is hard enough when you’re not frightened of your destination). Unfortunately, most hackerspaces can’t afford the rent in more salubrious locations.