U-M to Launch New Maker Space in Detroit’s Brightmoor Neighborhood

A new maker space is coming to Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood, and it’s backed by students and faculty from the University of Michigan’s Penny Stamps School of Art and Design and a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. The Brightmoor Alliance community group and Detroit Community Schools will work with the Stamps School to get the incubator up and running.

“We have been teaching and working with Brightmoor schools for five years,” says Nick Tobier, associate professor and Detroit faculty engagement coordinator at the Stamps School. “The maker space will allow us to turn that inside out and bring people from the community together inside the maker space.”

Using a repurposed property, the Brightmoor Maker Space will offer art and design workshops covering topics that range from prototyping and 3D printing, to wood-working and entrepreneurship programming. The maker space will also include locally driven entrepreneurial initiatives.

Tobier says some of what the maker space offers will depend on the interest and skillsets of the surrounding community, but he is planning to include a radio station in the space so people can learn audio production, fabrication and design of portable speakers, and welding.

“The Center for Entrepreneurship will come in and offer guidance,” Tobier says. “Already, there are neighborhood initiatives that we can partner with. We can work together to leverage university resources and creativity.”

As for why the Stamps School chose Brightmoor to locate a maker space, Tobier says there were a number of factors: A strong school, dedicated neighborhood activists, community gardens, and fledgling entrepreneurship. “There are lots of creative and resourceful transformations of vacant land in Brightmoor—it seemed like a great opportunity,” he adds.

Tobier hopes to have the Brightmoor Maker Space open by summer, although he says the Stamps School still has to raise matching funds before the project can be sustainable. The maker space will be open to the public, and Tobier hopes that people from across Detroit will stop by and see what it’s all about.

“It’s really exciting,” he says. “We’ve been working with partners in Brightmoor, and we’re looking forward to seeing who comes in [to the maker space].”

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