Nation of Makers has accomplished a lot in their short span. Some of their initiatives include a vibrant annual leadership conference called NOMCON, a recurring Maker Faire in the halls of Congress, a growing resource library, a BIPOC Makers Collective, and even meaningful partnerships. These partnerships included a massive international grassroots maker-led PPE initiative that produced over 48 million pieces of PPE during an unprecedented global pandemic and resultant supply chain shortages. And these are just part of their Nation of Makers' story!
I spoke to Dorothy Jones-Davis, the Executive Director of Nation of Makers (NoM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping makers by supporting maker organizations; through advocacy, the sharing of resources and the building of community within the maker movement and beyond.
Dorothy joined NoM in 2017, the year they launched their organization. Her interest and passion for making stemmed from childhood, when she would tinker with electronics with her dad, to learning about the craft making skills her Cherokee and Blackfoot ancestors used. In college, her “maker fix” came in the laboratory, when she was attending the University of Michigan for her PH.D. in neuroscience.
Before joining Nation of Makers, Dorothy worked as a scientist and moved to Washington, DC as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow in 2012. It was in this role she investigated non-’traditional’ technologies, and business models for STEM education and it led her to the maker movement, and her eventual role as a co-founder of the DC non-profit NoM. Dorothy has served as the co-producer of the DC Mini Maker Faire, the National Maker Faire and contributed to the development of the National Week of Making.
How did Nation of Makers come into existence and why?
In 2014, President Obama hosted a White House Maker Faire and launched the President’s Nation of Makers Initiative in June, where he declared a National Week of Making in both 2015 and 2016 with Presidential Proclamations, that called on even more organizations and institutions to support the ever-growing community of makers.
A local DC-based group, NationofMakers.org, responded to the President’s call, and was created as an independent nonprofit within the local DC community. They set to work expanding making in the Nation’s capital by first co-producing the DC Mini Maker Faire and then helping with the National Maker Faire, by supporting the National Week of Making, as well as creating a Maker Map initiative.
As the proposals for a formal structure for a brick and mortar nonprofit began, conversations were had with the existing DC-based Nation of Makers nonprofit. Their goal to “celebrate the creativity, ingenuity and diversity of America's Maker Community” continues to live on, both in how they participate and continue to do important work within the maker community, and also as the name has been given to the meta-organization that works nationally to serve makers by serving maker organizations - our very own, Nation of Makers.
NOMCON is an annual NoM conference. Can you tell me more about it and will there be one in 2022?
NOMCON is Nation of Makers’ annual leadership conference, convening together leaders of maker organizations (spaces, events, and support entities - public, private, academic, corporate, government, nonprofit and for-profit), from across a wide diversity of sectors that are working within the maker ecosystem in the United States and beyond, to dialogue, share best practices, and work towards an actionable agenda to push forward the impact of the maker movement.
We are looking forward to hosting NOMCON 2022 in June of this year (more details to come very soon!).
How does Nation of Makers oversee the Maker Community?
As a central convener of the maker community, Nation of Makers maintains a unique overarching view of the impact of the maker movement on a wide range of sectors and fields; from education to defense, manufacturing, economic development, entrepreneurship, and more.
From this vantage point, Nation of Makers is uniquely positioned to gather data on the widest range of maker organizations, large and small, rural and urban, providing leaders, scholars, policymakers, and the general public with freely-accessible real-time and longitudinal data regarding the impact of the maker movement, locally, nationally, and globally.
Our Annual Survey of Makerspaces is an annual point-in-time snapshot of the inner workings and impact of makerspaces across the United States. We hope that this longitudinal data set will enable maker organizations to access the information needed to apply for funding, make strategic decisions, and tell the compelling story of the impact that the maker movement is having on communities, locally and nationally. Following a hiatus during 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are pleased to be administering the 2021 survey through March 31, 2022. To take the survey, go to: https://makethedata.org/2022/01/10/2021-survey/
How can makers join your community?
Our community is free and open to leaders of maker organizations of all kinds. All of our resources are free and open to the public and available on our website. We also maintain a very active “makerspace organizers” group on Facebook, and an active Slack community. In addition to our freely available resources, we have a supporting membership tier. This membership tier provides an additional level of visibility and engagement within the Nation of Makers community, and serves to provide support and sustainability for the parent Nation of Makers’ organization.