For our third blog post, we sat down with Erin Casey, co-founder of Working Class and founder of DesignQuake here in York. Erin let us know how she got involved with the space and told us her thoughts on why a makerspace is the perfect fit for York. Read on to discover for yourself!
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WC: How did you get involved with Working Class?
EC: I got involved at the beginning of 2014 when Pat Sells, the owner of Salvaging Creativity, came to me with the idea for a space where people, like him, who are trying to start up capital and machinery intensive businesses could share space, equipment, and knowledge with community hobbyists, students and industry. I got involved because we had a potential space available in the Rudy Art Glass building, where I was working.
My personal interest in the space is more on the education side. I’m very interested in helping to improve the education system in the city. I don’t have any children, but I think education is the real lynchpin to improving the community. I was surrounded by all these people at Rudy Art Glass (employees and outside artisans) who were fabricating cool projects, and I thought we could use those skills to help kids get engaged in education in general. It would be a place where they could learn by doing, regardless of their career goals.
WC: Why do you think York needs a makerspace?
EC: York has a real heritage of “making.” We had—and still do have—a number of manufacturing companies employing workers with strong skills in metalworking, machining and woodworking. Once they retire, however, many of these workers no longer have a place to use their skills outside of their own garage. A makerspace provides the opportunity to keep those skills alive by allowing this generation to pass them on to the next. And at the same time, the younger generation seems to have a desire to return to a more authentic, “analog” life in some regards. I think this intersection, in addition to York’s heritage as a place where people create, make this the right place at the right time.
WC: What role will Working Class play in the revitalization of downtown York?
EC: I’m not originally from York, although I’ve been here for about 11 years. When I first came here, there was a big push to turn York around, but it felt like such a small number of people pushing a big rock up an even bigger hill. Now it feels like things have come to a tipping point with many people starting many new initiatives or business that together are bringing about real positive change. Working Class would be another key project adding to the momentum and would potentially appeal to many demographics that might not otherwise be coming into the city regularly.
WC: How will Working Class be different from other makerspaces?
EC: Most makerspaces are in larger cities and many have been funded by one entity who wants the space, whereas ours is very community-dependent. Given the size of our community, we have to have the colleges, community members, small business owners, entrepreneurs, and larger businesses all taking part in this to sustain it. But that’s where the magic from these spaces comes into play: the sharing of ideas across all skill sets, age groups, and backgrounds. That’s what will make it a rich experience for everyone in the space.
WC: What are the next big steps towards the grand opening?
EC: We’d like to get the additional funding needed so we can start operating. We’ve done a lot of work to forecast and plan out the operation but the remaining questions can’t be answered until people are actually in the space and using it. This is a place where people come to test ideas and put them into action and we’re anxious to do exactly that! So we need to find the additional funding to start acquiring key pieces of equipment and begin basic space renovations to be able to have community members start to work in the space.
WC: What’s your favorite thing to “make?”
EC: Food! I love cooking and baking. I’m not a gourmet cook—I like to make simple dinners and breads. I also like knitting. Both are just very relaxing.
WC: Why do you love York City?
EC: What really drew me to York was the ability to make an impact and to feel connected to a community. I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in a town that was roughly the same size and feel of York. When I left home, I lived in various big cities where I was more focused on my work and my friends and perhaps volunteering here and there. Coming to York allowed me to get meaningfully involved, and I could actually see the impact of my actions. I connected with some amazing people who wanted to make the same kinds of impact. And now York is at the point where I can largely just enjoy the hard work of all of these people who changed this community. It’s very satisfying.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for our next post!