One of the most rewarding (and interesting) parts of an organization like think|haus is the collision of the future and the now. Here we sit, in a city that is shedding its past and trying to determine its future. The old Hamilton isn’t working out quite the way anyone planned. The new Hamilton is finding its feet in education, medical and the catch-all “innovative technology.”
Way back in 1993, Canadian science fiction writer William Gibson famously quipped: “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” I’m fairly certain that he was right then and even more right now.
When I was a kid, the future was going to include jet-powered backpacks, meals in pill format, vacations on the moon and suburbia as far as the eye could see. As long as the planet survived the nuclear holocaust.
Today, the future looks pretty different. Crumbling infrastructure, unsustainable development, paved farmland, insufficient healthcare and educational capability – it’s not a pretty picture. It will require some truly innovative thinking and an ambition that looks further ahead than the fiscal quarter or the next election.
Part of the answer lies in a focus on civic engagement – making it easier for residents to find and access services, making it easier to hear from all residents rather than just the ones with money / influence / access, and permitting residents to give back to their city by offering their skills and solutions for public consumption.
Engagement with each other and ambition won’t be enough. We’re going to need (at least) one more thing – the ability to do it ourselves. We can’t depend on our supply-lines stretching for thousands of kilometres and we cannot continue to treat everything as a disposable commodity. Over the last five years, we’ve been experiencing a renaissance in the “DIY / maker / hacker” world. For a long time the idea of repair or handmade at home has been looked down upon as the kind of thing that only poor people would do. The reality is changing. There are new tools and new techniques for creating things, new ways of sharing information on doing it yourself and renewed interest in learning and doing.
think|haus was conceived as a place where people could meet face-to-face to do the cool things and learn the new ways and share the cost of the new tools. We’ve been doing that for four years now and having a heck of a good time along the way.
- If you have just learned about Instructables or Thing-a-verse.
- If you picked up a copy of Make Magazine and can’t quite believe that it is real.
- If you’ve heard about lasers, CNC and 3D printing.
- If you’d like to be a teacher or a collaborator or a student.
Yeah. That’s what think|haus is all about.