Posted by: julia
on May 23, 2011
Ok, I realize that I’m extremely late to the party on this one, but I feel like I have to talk a little bit about the Maker Faire, which we finally went to for the first time this year. Although I’d heard of it for years from various friends, and was told that I’d enjoy it, I apparently wasn’t listening hard enough, because we never made the effort to go before this. I have to say, I’m so glad we went—I was tremendously inspired, even despite having to wrangle several hyper and curious kids at the same time. I will definitely be going back every year now, and hopefully even figuring out how to participate next time.
I wasn’t totally sure what specifically to expect from the Maker Faire, although I knew in general that it was a place for all kinds of DIY “maker” people (engineers, scientists, tinkerers, architects, geeks, artists, gardeners, crafters, etc.) and their projects. And it was that, but I think I didn’t quite expect the sheer volume of creative/fun/interesting/intelligent/kooky people, performances and hands-on activities that we found there (and we totally did not even get the chance to see it all—maybe only half of what was there, if that). It was like the Exploratorium and Burning Man and Cirque du Soleil and the Whole Earth Festival all got together and had a polyamorous love child. I found myself most drawn to the crafty/artistic/performance stuff (as opposed to the more “hard science” or green/organic type stuff), but all of it was interesting and presented in such a way that I wanted to try everything.
What I really “got” after having been there was that for everything we saw, from the young guys who had mashed up Minecraft with Kinect to the firebreathing steampunk dragonmobile, from to the motorized giant cupcakes to the Mentos-and-Diet-Coke guys’ performance, from the life-sized poseable articulated stick people that anyone could rearrange to the enormous inflatable color-changing nylon asparagus sculptures that anyone could hug (or punch), the point and the purpose seemed to be to infect other people with a sense of curiosity or wonder or playfulness. It was like thousands of people all asked themselves “what kind of cool stuff could I make that other people would like?” and then they all got together and brought their inventions and let other people play with them and taught anyone who was interested how they worked and encouraged others to try making them too. It was a magnificent collection of cultural creatives all flying their freak flags high and proud.