[open-science] Advice for starting an open community lab/biomakespace?

sheila miguez shekay at pobox.com
Mon Nov 30 20:20:24 UTC 2015

I am a member of Pumping Station: One (this year I'm a board member).

We don't have a diybio area in the space; it never panned out. But there
are some general things we've learned that can be helpful, and a lot of
them are covered by hackerspace design patterns.


You may or may not want to incorporate, but advice for non profits will be
helpful regardless. We are all volunteers at ps1 and we wrote our own
bylaws. Due to that, they are inconsistent and vague, and this has caused
problems. There are books out there that give advice about starting non for
profits and there are templates out there for bylaws.

Having rules helps. For example, the Tidy Space pattern makes a space more
productive and usable. https://wiki.pumpingstationone.org/Tidy_Space_Policy

We sustain our organization through member dues. We have two tiers, not
very different; but some places have a fine grained list of features and
multiple tiers. e.g. http://artisansasylum.com/

I don't have good advice about how to find a good insurance policy since I
wasn't involved in getting ours. You'll want to talk to other diybio spaces
to see how they handle liability.

You'll want to think of ways to avoid volunteer burnout. I apologize for
not having a nice list of suggestions here. Perhaps maintain an awareness
of how much work people are pouring in to the space to make sure people
have a good cadence. Perhaps also maintain an awareness of new members who
might make good volunteers and encourage them to start participating, have
them help with responsibilities.

On Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 7:59 AM, Laura James <lbjames at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi Jenny,
> We can certainly talk about Makespace Cambridge (which I cofounded) but
> perhaps you are looking for something more focussed on biolabs?  The
> hackerspaces.org wiki has some guidance https://wiki.hackerspaces.org/
> and of course FabLabs, one model, are pretty well documented. There's a
> definite lack of written help out there, mostly because community spaces
> are often run on volunteer labour and/or are stretched in resource just to
> get open and keep operating, and writing up is dull :)
> The RSA is doing some work on this eg
> https://www.thersa.org/discover/videos/rsa-insights/rsa-insights-makerspaces/
> and there's an event this Wednesday with livestream
> https://www.thersa.org/events/2015/12/rsa-makers-summit-2015/  Following
> the Maker Assembly earlier this autumn I hope there will be some further
> activity on UK makerspace processes/admin etc...
> Nesta has a dataset about existing spaces which might have useful pointers
> to further info if you can find relevant spaces to draw upon:
> http://www.nesta.org.uk/uk-makerspaces-data and there's the UK hackspaces
> list too: http://www.hackspace.org.uk/wiki/Main_Page
> Finally, the classic advice for creating community workshop spaces in
> creating the right framework is to start from your community, work out what
> you all need, and then fit something to that. There's almost as many ways
> of running a space as there are spaces, and one size does not fit all. Best
> to find some spaces that feel like they have similar communities, and get
> inspiration from them.
> Best of luck!
> Laura
> On 30 November 2015 at 07:19, Jenny Molloy <jenny.molloy at okfn.org> wrote:
>> Dear All
>> I have an exciting opportunity to start a community biology lab here in
>> Cambridge (UK), which would be fantastic for several local projects we've
>> got going around open technologies (which I should definitely share in more
>> detail soon!).
>> Has anyone set up a biohackspace/makespace/community lab and could you
>> send me any examples of governance documents, figures for number of
>> members, information on how you keep such a space sustainable financially
>> and anything else you have that could feed into our deliberations on how to
>> run the space?
>> I've found one site from GenSpace which is really useful
>> http://openlab-blueprint.org/ but it'd be good to see if their solutions
>> have worked elsewhere.
>> Things are moving quite quickly so apologies for the rushed email! I'd be
>> delighted to talk to anyone who can offer advice so while publicly posted
>> documents would be best and most helpful for others, if it's more
>> convenient to chat then just get in touch!
>> Jenny
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shekay at pobox.com
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