Interview with our co-founder, Patrick Sells

For our second blog post, we had a chat with Patrick Sells, the spark who ignited the flame that is Working Class. Pat is one of our co-founders along with Erin Casey—who will be featured in our next post—as well as the owner of Salvaging Creativity, a custom fabrication shop here in York. Read on to discover Pat’s inspiration, goals, and hopes for York’s first maker space.

| | |

WC: Tell us about how you got involved in this makerspace project. 

PS: I started my business with the concept of shared tools, shared space, knowledge and shared labor before the concept of a makerspace became a term.  It was a necessity.  I couldn't carry all that I needed as a startup, but I couldn't do anything without those four ingredients.

For labor, I thought that I could use the resources of a makerspace to find good people, or to subcontract projects. A makerspace can also carry the more expensive or odd/seldom used machinery, software etc. that I could use as a member as needed. 

Luckily, early on I met Steve Mitchell, who had already traveled the same road and shared the same ideas of business partnership.  He had been sharing resources and working together in the community for 30 years before I came along.  I then connected with Erin Casey's family at Rudy Art Glass, and they served as my foster/mentor company, sharing marketing, tools, space, trucking and support.  Without that access to support and resources, I'm not sure what my company would be today. 

So the simple answer is: I really needed one myself and it wasn't there.

Oh, and when I’m tired of building stuff myself, I would enjoy teaching a class or two and get out of my shop cave. 

A makerspace isn’t just for “makers.”

WC: Why do you think York needs a makerspace?

PS:

York was and still is a big manufacturing town of all sorts.  These skills, as well as the cross communication/sharing of knowledge/networking that trade organizations need to carry on, need a place to be kept alive.  Shop class is gone.  Apprenticeship is almost gone.  Trade schools?  There’s only a few remaining.

There are many things that we would all like to do in life but we don't know where to go to try them out.  If there is an accessible place with affordable resources, we can try out all sorts of things and decide if it is something in which we wish to invest more of our time.  Try a $150 class before you get a $100,000 degree.  A makerspace gives people the ability to get a taste of all sorts of ideas, processes, tools, and human resources that might change our life compass.  Anyone—a writer, a manager, an architect, and even a doctor—can benefit by expanding his/her knowledge of how to manipulate, fix, and build from the materials in our world.  The more "tools" we hold in our minds, the more success and understanding we will have in our lives whether or not we are personally engaged in physical making as a career.

 I believe much of today’s depression, lack of confidence, and polarization in public discourse, comes from a lack of engagement and understanding in simple real-world things.  Practicing a simple skill such as carving a wooden spoon helps bring people down from over inflated pop star superhero dreams.  So yeah, a makerspace is a good step towards saving the world.

Finally, much of the knowledge of past generations will be lost if not passed on.  Sure, you can watch things on YouTube, or read it in a book, but it’s not the same as first-hand experience from someone with decades of experience teaching while you practice a process or learn a new piece of equipment.

Sure, you can watch things on YouTube, or read it in a book, but it’s not the same as first-hand experience from someone with decades of experience teaching while you practice a process or learn a new piece of equipment.

WC: What roles will Working Class play in the revitalization of downtown York? 

PS:

  • Bringing in jobs and careersWorking Class will be a hub for entrepreneurship, startups, and workforce education. 
  • A resource of tools and knowledge to better ensure success of projects—both personal and commercial.
  • More unique and more local—instead of catalog purchased mass produced boring crap that can be found anywhere, York citizens can make things that will only be found in York.  Local interest and flavor is what makes us want to spend time in a place.
  • Deeper more meaningful relationships among citizens—the conversations and relationships that develop over a joint project or with peers learning a skill and sharing experience are more satisfying and lasting.  A makerspace builds social connection, and strong social fabric is the foundation of a good city.

 

WC: How will Working Class be different from other makerspaces?

PS: This is a costly but necessary resource for a city the size of York, PA.  I'm not sure the space will be all that different from many others around the world, although each has a slightly different focus.

If I had my way, I'd like to see strong consistent engagement from these 4 layers—all mixed together in one physical space sharing experiences where everyone feels welcome.

1. Industry

2. Regular everyday people

3. Academia

4. The arts

Another personal hope—a makerspace isn't just for "makers".  That term limits us.  In reality, a makerspace is a place for people of all interests to come together, share knowledge, help with projects, and pool resources. Making is far more than woodshop and welding.  It is cooking, gardening, photography, writing, graphic design, and more. I hope we can have a strange mix of old world and high tech in one spot that highlights all the best parts of our material world in York.

 

WC: What are the next big steps toward the grand opening? 

PS:

  • Raise $$$
  • Gather people- staff, members, partner organizations and teachers
  • Gather topics/courses/knowledge that people wish to share
  • Setup safety and operational protocols for the space
  • Collect equipment from local industry
  • Setup machinery in the space

 

The more “tools” we hold in our minds, the more success and understanding we will have in our lives whether or not we are personally engaged in physical making as a career.

 

WC: Whats your favorite thing to "make?”

PS: Breakfast.

 

WC: Why do you love York city?

PS: Depends on the day.  It’s a love-hate relationship. For love- there are all sorts of businesses from tiny “mom and pop’s” to big companies in close proximity.  You can walk into any of these places and find most anything a furniture fabricator might need.  I've met so many interesting people, good friends and resources.  Then when I need to escape it all, in a five minute bike ride, I can easily escape the city and be in meadows and woods.  

 

|||

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for our next interview with Erin Casey.