A ton of great ideas came out of the first Southside Maker Meetup, including a Youth Maker Market, a way to give rides from different parts of the city and how designers can build a giant spectacle for this year’s Southside Mini Maker Faire.
At the April 13 meeting, the makers who came through also talked about their origin stories and their first experiences making, manufacturing and even selling their creations.
Michael Underwood got up and had the room rolling with his description of his first CD. “I went out and got some blank CDs, literally, and Photoshopped my picture and took it to CVS. I actually printed it as a picture, it said ‘Kodak’ on the back,” he laughed.
What he thought was just writing music turned into a full production and assembly line. He was running a small business with stuff he’d made. “I recorded it and wrote it and engineered it and manufactured it,” he said. “It really clicked when my mom was like ‘Hey, where’s all this money coming from?’”
The school wasn’t as supportive and punished his entrepreneurship instead of nurturing it made him move business off school grounds. “They said, ‘You cannot conduct business on school grounds,’ and I had to move my operation across the street after school. They should have grabbed me and had me join the DECA Club.”
As an outsider in suburban Little Rock, he said moves like that motivated him to move to Chicago to continue his work. Now he and his longtime friend Karlon D’Munti McGruder run D’Magnifico + Co. Digital Media Company and Krush Dem ReKordz, respectively, and make music, art and digital media.
“It sounds like your story has a lot of value for a young person here,” said Jackie Moore, who leads Chicago’s Southside Mini Maker Faire. “It shows how you took your passion and made it into something. Is that something you could distill into a message you could share at the Maker Faire?”
It’s this type of conversation Jackie Moore was hoping to open up with the Maker Meetups, held in the months between the annual Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire. All afternoon Chicago makers shared their stories, project ideas and considered ways to make those ideas interactive and educational.
Held at DePaul’s Idea Realization Lab, the Maker Meetup was a place members of the Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire community could meet each other, exchange ideas and come up with big plans for this year’s Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire.
The next meetup will be held May X in Auburn-Gresham. If you’re any kind of maker, come through and meet the community. “Come learn what it takes to be a maker,” said Moore. “We’re going to talk about creativity in all of its forms.”
Maker meetups are open to all people, especially people who want to be makers, as well as organizations and teachers planning summer programs who could benefit from a place to showcase projects. We also want to meet makers who have turned their creations into careers.
The first meetup was sponsored by TechGirlz, a nonprofit that introduces middle school girls to technology and tech careers, and PNC Bank, which offers banking services to makers with small businesses.
For more on Chicago’s Maker Faire Community, watch this video.