Etsy Maker Cities: Summit Recap
Find out what happened when representatives from communities across the US and Canada gathered at the Etsy Maker Cities Summit in May.
BY ILYSSA MEYER 13 JUN, 2016
Last month, we were thrilled to welcome Etsy community members and city leaders from 13 cities across the United States and Canada to Brooklyn, New York for the 2016 Etsy Maker Cities Summit! Everyone arrived ready to dive into two days packed with brainstorming, learning and planning around how to build Maker Cities that empower micro-entrepreneurs and strengthen local creative economies.
We began the summit by exploring the components of a Maker City through a series of small group discussions around what an ideal Etsy Maker City looks like. By the end of the kickoff brainstorm, the energy in the room was palpable. For many city leaders at the Summit, it was their first time hearing directly from makers and micro-entrepreneurs about the roadblocks they face. Likewise, the Summit was the first time many makers were able to connect directly with their city’s government. As Knoxville Action Team member David of Native Maps said, “With a little bit of self-advocating, one phone call or an email to your local government can go a long way. They need to hear from small businesses to learn how to serve them best.”
As conversations progressed, opportunities emerged, and small groups gathered to dive deeply into topics like asset mapping, makerspaces, resource sharing, inclusion, diversity and access, and advocacy and education. From creating an activist toolkit, to building a Made Local brand to starting an apprenticeship program, there were no shortage of awesome ideas circulating the room.
After two days of exploration, ideation, and analysis, several themes emerged around empowering micro-entrepreneurs and investing in creative local economic development. We’re excited to report that many of these themes are represented by the project plans currently underway:
- Diversity and Accessibility: Communities crave the ability to bridge divides across languages and neighborhoods, introducing mentors, facilitators, translators, and advocates where they're needed.
- Makerspaces: The desire to create creative communities alongside physical spaces for making was shared by many cities at the Summit.
- Manufacturing and Scaling: Recognizing the importance of small batch manufacturing is vital to local economic development in Maker Cities, and many teams expressed interest in manufacturing education for their communities.
- Sharing: Creating a way for resources to be shared organically within a community is crucial for Maker Cities.
- Collaboration and Breaking Down Silos: The need to break away from a singular point of view is essential for long term economic and creative growth. To do that, each community must bring a multiplicity of perspectives and resources around the table for discussion.
- Advocacy and Education: Policymakers and makers alike must widely communicate the value makers bring to a city, increasing maker visibility while understanding the specific needs of each city.
From increasing access to resources, to creating makerspaces, to developing apprenticeship programs, we couldn’t be more excited about the amazing projects underway. In the coming months, we look forward to officially designating and celebrating cities as Etsy Maker Cities as they successfully execute their project plans. Brit McDaniel, owner of PaperAndClayStudio and a member of the Memphis Action Team, recapped her experience by noting, “I came out of the Summit with the desire to advocate for makers in my city, and the confidence that I, with the support of our city leadership, can help facilitate actual change that could make a real difference to not only my business but to our maker community as a whole.”