Makers + Homeless = Success Story

This video– and the Indiegogo funding campaign– is for Marc Roth’s awesome project to connect homeless folks in San Francisco to the Maker Movement. Then there’s this wonderful reflection about Marc’s project from David Lang, who’s writing a book about losing his job and discovering Making:

“My year of making – the whole “Zero to Maker” period – was a dark time. It went deeper than just losing my job. I got dumped. My savings dried up, and I had to move out of my apartment. I was living in my car. By nearly every metric, it was bad. But I did have few things going for me. I had my column for MAKE: and every week I would try a new skill, a new tool, a new project. And I had my friend Eric and this underwater robot we were trying to build (even though it seemed like a hopelessly ambitious effort). I was still trying.

That time in the shop saved my life. Putting aside the anxiety and worry for an hour or two, while I worked on a project or took a class at TechShop, could always turn my mood around, or at minimum kept me distracted enough to do something productive. The patience of the teachers and the encouragement of others around the shop was my lifeline. Eventually, that became the new normal. It still is. Just keep going: moving forward, working on the next thing, and helping as many other people as possible.

During that period, I wasn’t the only one in TechShop trying to rebuild my life. In many of my classes, and always there to lend a word of encouragement, was Marc Roth. Marc was in a tougher spot than I was – living at the homeless shelter blocks away from TechShop, looking for any work that would give him the cash to support his two kids – but he had a far better attitude than I did. Regardless of the circumstances, he never had a bad word to say about anyone or anything, and never wavered from his commitment to learning. Marc and I both became regulars at TechShop, largely because we had little place else to be. I watched him go from manually and mechanically illiterate to the most skilled laser cutter operator in San Francisco (among many other new skills). We hired him as soon as we needed the help for OpenROV. So did a lot of others.

Marc has become the de facto source for production laser cutting in San Francisco, and his company, SF Laser, has flourished. But Marc has decided to take on a bigger challenge. Something closer to his heart (and closer to mine, too). He’s opening up the Learning Shelter – a physical space for his ideas on helping other homeless folks get back on their feet through making and a digital fabrication education.”

I love this story. You can fund Marc’s project here.


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