RTP has always been the center of entrepreneurial activity in the Raleigh-Durham area, but downtown Durham is coming into its own as a hotbed of start-up activity. The new website downtowndurhamstartups.com lists 14 start-ups in downtown, employing an estimated 170 people. Hyperlocal blog Bull City Rising has hired correspondent Justin Landwehr to write a series of articles focusing on the start-up scene throughout Durham. With the Center for Entrepreneurial Development moving their headquarters to the American Tobacco Campus in October, there may be more to talk about in downtown Durham than baseball and beer.
I dropped in on the new collaborative space in the basement of the Snow Building yesterday, and got an introduction to the space and the concept from founders Alan and Ashley. They are very recently moved here to Durham from Rochester, NY, where they were involved in the hackerspace Interlock. There were a couple of other folks hanging out, making stuff…one working on a technology project that I’d attempt to explain, but I’m sure I’d botch it. The other was crocheting. So clearly the making of stuff in makerspace is not limited to work done with computers or soldering irons.
When I first heard of hackerspace (yesterday), I had the impression that it would be a coworking space along the lines of Carrboro Coworking: a place for freelancers, independents and others to have an office away from home, take a meeting, work in a building with other humans. But Alan describes the makerspace as more clubhouse than coworking. It’s less business, more imagination. A little bit tech, a little bit art.
The space itself is in the basement of the Snow Building, below the Beyu Cafe. It has the feel of a basement, all big pipes and cheap carpeting. They hope to personalize the space over time with the help of the creative folks of Durham they hope to attract.
If you’re interested in finding out more about makerspace, check out the Triangle Hackers website, or come to their next meeting, this Tuesday at 7pm. They’ll be meeting at Beyu Cafe and heading down to the basement from there.
Looking forward to heading down to my old stomping ground, the Snow Building, this afternoon to check out the new space for Triangle Hackers. I don’t consider myself a hacker, but any community dedicated to the intersection of art, technology, collaboration, start-ups, and making stuff sounds like a place I want to know about.