Mt. Elliott Makerspace: Fertile Ground for Detroit’s Future Innovators

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important feature, Sturges notes, in preventing work silos and fostering innovation born from multidisciplinary creativity. In the future, Sturges plans to add concentrations in food (farming and preparation), design (2-D and 3-D CAD), music, and arts. But his main goal is building capacity and communities of knowledge. “We want people to keep coming back so they can teach the next group,” Sturges says. “We’re probably casting a net that’s a little wide, but it’s important to have communities of expertise.”

Sturges is also facilitating the creation of other new makerspaces in Detroit. Drawing inspiration from the open source idea in software and hardware, he wants to share the Mt. Elliott Makerspace model so that it can be adapted and improved upon by others. Right now, he has three additional sites in mind: the HYPE teen center inside the main branch of the Detroit Public Library, Detroit Community Schools in the Brightmoor neighborhood, and 5E Gallery in Southwest Detroit. Partial funding commitments are already in place or pending  through Cognizant’s “Making the Future” initiative as well as CEOs for Cities and the Knight Foundation.

Sturges says that, in addition to teaching technical and entrepreneurial skills, makerspaces build persistence and courage. Spending time in one, he says, affects how you approach life. “It’s an environment where people feel cared for,” he adds. “People often look at a challenged community and want to bring in arts programs. This speaks more to job skills and creative problem solving. There are lots of people here to help push you along.”

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