Author Archives: sannmer

(Re)Making a Skate Park in West Oakland

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Douglas Kittredge is a carpenter, builder, set-builder, and artist.  He’s founder of OakTownHall, an old-West style building meant as a center for community projects, located in the enormous American Steel Studios building in West Oakland. He’s also Anarchitectural, a design/build company that specializes in “building the future with what remains of the past.”

OakTown Hall inside American Steel

OakTown Hall inside American Steel

Last fall & winter, Kittredge was one of the crew that created, built and programmed the magical and temporary Peralta Junction Project—a gorgeous pop-up community events “square” right across from American Steel. It was while working on that project, outside the walls of American Steel, that Kittredge got a deeper bead on what was going down in the adjacent West Oakland neighborhood.

That’s when he discovered Town Park Sk8 Gallery—a skate park with ramps etc— in the nearby DeFremery Park. Town Park Sk8 Gallery is, according to Kittredge, West Oakland’s most used recreational facility in West Oakland.   It’s also one of the most in need of repairs and maintenance.

20130909223350-563183_10151242064182191_1215395884_n_copyKittredge, along with park founder and resident mentor Keith “K-Dub” Williams, has been on a mission ever since to repair and improve the mostly wooden facility.  Kittredge himself has done 24 hour stints, staying all night in the park to get ramps fixed and ready for events.

K-Dub’s plan is to get the City of Oakland to realize that the park needs a more solid park infrastructure that is not so easily degrades as wood ramps with sheet metal (that occasionally gets stolen and sold for scrap).

In the meantime, the two of them persist.  Kittredge has organized a series of work parties—the next of which is this coming Sunday—where skilled and unskilled alike can pitch in to help make West Oakland’s most used rec facility decent.

He’s also recently launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise much-needed repair funds. There are truly amazing benefits from American Steel artists. But the campaign to date has only raised $1800 of the needed $15K—and there are only 15 days left in the campaign.

East Bay Mini Maker Faire is super happy to have Douglas, K-Dub and some of the Town Park Sk8 Gallery skaters exhibit at the fair on October 20.  But October 20th is too late to help the park with the IndieGoGo campaign or recruit helpers for this weekend’s work party.

Needless to say, if you can, please contribute today.  And if you’re a maker, get down to the park on Sunday from noon-6 PM to pitch in and lend a hand.

Meet the 2013 East Bay Mini Maker Faire Makers

EBMMF_GEAR_ROBOT_gsa_004_outlinesSuperstars!  That’s what you are!

It’s our pleasure to introduce a fantastic list of makers for this year’s 2013 East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

We have roboticists, textile hackers, artists, engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, students, designers, blacksmiths, glass blowers, programmers, farmers, pranksters and printers.

We are updating the list daily, so be sure to check back here and again.  Our schedule of performers, workshops and presenters will go live next week.  But in the interim>>>>>peruse the list and appreciate!

6 Reasons Why Our 2013 Call for Makers KickOff *Rocked*

This will be year #4 for the East Bay Mini Maker Faire, and for the first time we held a Town Hall to kick off the Call for Makers. Turnout was amazing—over 100 people attended and yes, THE CALL FOR MAKERS IS NOW OPEN. But so much else happened!

1.  The Mayor Spoke.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan came by to give us her well-wishes and to announce that the City of Oakland has been chosen to host the 2nd annual Urban Manufacturing Alliance conference. The UMA is a national association working “to grow manufacturing businesses, create living wage jobs and catalyze sustainable localized economies.” Meaning it’s an organization created to promote maker businesses.  The conference will be in early October, just before the fair.

2. The Makers mingled.

So many connections made last night!  I personally witnessed The Crucible meeting the Lawrence Hall of Science for the first time.  WikiSeat met Claremont Middle School.  Makers with scrap plywood met makers with a need for scrap plywood.  And on and on!

3. Oakland Makers launched.

A stellar lineup of some of Oakland’s most influential makers (Karen Cusolito/American Steel,  Hiroko Kurihara/25th Street Collective, Leslie Pritchett/AmSteel&Crucible, Steven Young/The Crucible, Margot Prado/City of Oakland Economic Development Dept., Michael Snook/NIMBY makerspace) introduced Oakland Makers, a new organization meant to better position and articulate the value-add of Makers specializing in the industrial arts, applied technology, artisan production, custom manufacturing and education. The have galvanized as a group to:
• increase the visibility of Oakland’s manufacturing and industrial arts,
• sustain the ability of these sectors to operate and thrive,
• grow Oakland’s diverse creative economy.
Sign up on their mailing list to get involved and learn more.

4. The Makers took the mic.

We also had an opportunity for everyone to come up and introduce themselves. Folks lined up and shared their name, their organization, and what they make. So cool to hear the diversity of the makers in the room, the numbers of new people finding a place interested in participating, and the continuing support and presence of the superstars of the East Bay maker scene.

5. American Steel Studios inspired.

It’s hard to express the scale of both the facility and operation of American Steel Studios. It is SIX ACRES in size, and at least a hundred makers call it their home away from home. Founder Karen Cusolito gave two tours of the facility. If you missed it, check this New York Times article—and watch for a profile piece about to come out in Metropolis magazine.

6. Tacos and fine beer were had.

Many thanks to the City of Oakland’s Economic and Workforce Development Department for providing delicious sustenance. And to Line 51 brewing company for flowing some delicious beer. Quality, local food and beverages really do make for quality mingling.

THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR COMING OUT!  Thanks especially to Karen and American Steel for hosting. Thanks to the strong showing by Park Day School volunteers (Park Day School is the organizing entity behind the volunteer-run East Bay Mini Maker Faire, if you didn’t know). And to our venue partners, the City of Oakland’s Studio One Art Center.

Don’t forget to get your maker, performer and presenter applications in early—and please share the Call with your extended community.

If last night is any indication, year four is going to be fantastic. 

You’re Invited!

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The 4th annual East Bay Mini Maker Faire is gearing up for Sunday, October 20th, and to celebrate we’ve decided for the first time to put on a Kick-off  and Town Hall at one of the East Bay’s largest makerspaces, American Steel Studios.

  • East Bay Mini Maker Faire 2013 Call for Makers Launch
  • Wednesday, July 10th, 2013
  • 6—9 p.m.
  • American Steel Studios, 1960 Mandela Pkwy (park on 20th)

Please RSVP one of two ways: Facebook (and please share it with your maker community!) OR Eventbrite.

We will launch the 2013 Call for Makers, and share the low-down on fair plans for the October 20, 2013 East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Plus:

  • learn about Oakland Makers, a new local association of industrial arts, technologists, artists, manufacturers, and educators. Steve Young of The Crucible, Hiroko Kurihara of the 25th Street Collective Karen Cusolito of American Steel, and other charter members will share the story and vision behind this new maker initiative.
  • meet the fair organizers; get your questions answered about the event (especially if you have not participated in the past); pitch ideas for your exhibit; learn more about volunteering; contribute curatorial ideas and suggestions!
  • tour West Oakland’s largest maker space with American Steel co-founder Karen Cusolito. First tour starts promptly at 6 PM; last tour at 8 PM.
  • eat and drink :-D

So we can have enough food and drink for all, Please RSVP one of two ways: Facebook (and please share it with your maker community!) OR Eventbrite.

If you have questions or ideas, please get in touch at info@ebmakerfaire.com.

Hope to see you there!

—The East Bay Mini Maker Faire 2013 team

It was Super

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Wow!  What an inspiring day.  Thank you Makers of the East Bay Mini Maker Faire!  Your creativity and curiosity is  profound, fun, and thoroughly entertaining.

As an organizing group (almost entirely made of parent volunteers of Park Day School), we really feel like we hit our stride this year. Logistics, permits, equipment, volunteer organization…  It all came together to enable us to share this day with 170+ makers and  5000+ attendees.

So many people and organizations make this event happen that it’s hard to single out thanks.  At the risk of making an omission, we pay tribute to:

  • Makers.  You are it.  There wouldn’t be anything to talk about if you didn’t make.
  • Park Day School staff, parents, teachers and community.  This is an entirely volunteer-run event, and hands-down you all worked unbelievably hard to make it happen and run so smoothly.  Thank you for being so game, for spending all of your time and energy, and for sharing Park’s incredible campus as a venue.
  • Studio One Arts Center for joining up with us and for activating their front yard, ceramics, glass and jewlery studios.
  • MAKE Magazine and O’Reilly Media for having the vision to share (and license) Maker Faire to community organizations.  Read MAKE Magazine. Maker Shed for bringing kits and cool stuff to the faire.
  • The MAKE interns and Lighthouse Community Charter School students Javier Gonzalez, Oscar Martinez and
    Juan Carlos Montes for running our Learn to Solder booth.
  • Several Individuals from outside the school community supported the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in a big way.  Katy Bell for stage managing the Music Stage.  Scheffer Ely for helping with set-up.  Tricia McGillis for web design.
  • And thanks again to our sponsors (see right).  Special props to Ranahan Production Services for all the production gear, and Aidells Sausages and ACME bread for making the maker lunch happen.

We’ll be sending out surveys to makers and attendees in the next few days—we’d like to hear your feedback so that 2013 can be even more fabulous.    And we’d love to see your photos and videos (please tag with #ebmakerfaire); post them via Twitter and Facebook.

Phew.  Smile.  See you next year!

The Low Down and Big Up on Studio One Art Center

This year for the first time Studio One Art Center is activating their really great art and craft studios for the East Bay Mini Maker Faire.

If you’re not aware, Studio One is a City of Oakland public arts studio.  They offer classes, after school care, summer camps and all kinds of amazing hands-on arts and making programming throughout the year.

Besides hosting the Maker Shed, BioCurious, MakeSF, Mothership Hackermoms, Ace Monster Toys, Workshop Weekend, the Swap-O-Rama-Rama and more tomorrow, Studio One will be showing off their facility and teachers:

  • Janet Hiebert will be demoing stained glass, glass fusing & glass beads (upstairs)
  • Karen Ehrhardt demoing metal jewelry and Alyssia Cartner on found object assembly (upstairs)
  • Blanca Soltys on wheel throwing demos & hand building demos in the Ceramics Studio (downstairs) + glaze your own bisque ware in the side courtyard

Sounds like there will be drum making and building of terrariums too.  Help Studio make a mosaic for their new garden.  And experience first-hand this City of Oakland cultural hub + resource.

Kirk Lombard: Pursuing the Elusive Monkeyface Eel

Kirk Lombard worked for 7 years as a fisheries observer for the CA Department of Fish and Game.

Onboard rockfish boats off the Farallones I counted rockfish; on the piers I checked herring, jacksmelt, stripers, pile perch; on the beaches I saw how surf and night smelt were captured; in the hidden coves I checked in on goose barnacle poachers, (not because I had to, because I wanted to); in downtown San Francisco I watched homeless, drop-line-wielding grandmothers, pull rockfish after rockfish out of storm drains.

You want to get deep with fishing in an urban environment? Come to Kirk’s workshop on the Homesteader Stage, 12:30PM: “Poke Poling 101.”  Learn to make your own poke pole so you can catch monkeyface eels, rockfish and cabezon on the California coast.   Informal discussion on other “underground” fisheries of SF Bay will continue after the demonstration–time permitting.

Kirk also has 10 years as a (third generation) equity actor in NY, and is the lead singer of local band Rube Waddell—so you can make a good guess that his session will be great theater as well.  Even if touching an eel freaks you out.

And if you miss the session, Kirk now leads field tours on urban fishing regularly through his company Sea Forager, so you can get out in the field with a real expert.

MAKE and Maker Shed in the House! Raspberry Pi, MakerBots, Parallax +++

We’re lucky! Because we’re in the Bay Area, near enough to the home of Maker Faire founder, MAKE magazine, the MAKE crew will be trekking from Sebastopol (and parts all over the Bay) to come enjoy the Faire on Sunday.

But not just the magazine—since we’re so close to home, the retail front of MAKE, the Maker Shed, gets to come set up shop. They will be bringing a great array of kits for kids, Maker Faire and MAKE gear, Maker Media books—plus Parallax Elev8 QuadCopters, MakerBot Replicator 3D printers, and hard to find $25 RasberryPi computers.

AND the MAKE interns will be running our Learn to Solder booth, along with students from Lighthouse Community Charter School.

If you don’t know the background behind MAKE and Maker Faire:

Maker Faire started back in 2006 as a spin-off of MAKE magazine.  MAKE is a quarterly magazine that brings the do-it-yourself mindset to all the exciting projects in your life and helps you make the most of technology at home and away from home. It’s full of projects from beginner to expert.

The original Maker Faire entertains over 100,000 visitors in San Mateo over a weekend at the end of every May.  The other flagship event happens every fall in New York City (this year 55K attendees).  Mini Maker Faires have started to sprout up around the United States and the world, including events in Ann Arbor, Seattle, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Shenzhen, Dublin, Brighton—and the East Bay!

Matt Heckert and Walk and Peck


Way back in the age of video tape, in the time before the Internet, a machine named Walk and Peck roamed the earth.

One of the stars of the seminal Survival Research Laboratories film “Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief” (1988), Walk and Peck (AKA The Centaur) also had a feature role in the 1985 performance, “Extremely Cruel Practices: Designed to Instruct Those Interested in Policies That Correct or Punish.” 

Walk and Peck’s maker, Matt Heckert, will be bringing the old W&P out for a little walkabout at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire this Sunday.

In the world of art+robots, Survival Research Laboratories (SRL) is considered to be the pioneer of the “spectacle” form of underground robotic art.” (Wikipedia). Remote control machines, often the size of small cars, interact with props and each other, producing mayhem, surprise, and destruction.

Heckert came to machines and engineering pretty early.  Obsessed with cars and Formula One racing, Heckert got his first car when he was 13 years old.  “It was a little Volvo 544 that I was going to make into a racecar. I was done with the lawnmower and the outboard motor; I wanted to have something to work on.”

Matt’s dad had seen this Volvo out in the country for sale, and tracked down the owner.  It turned out that this guy, Paul Krot, was a photographer and a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design (as well as founder of Sprint Systems Photography—still in biz), and had in fact raced the Volvo in some Sports Car Club of America runs.

Krot wouldn’t sell the car.  Instead he said, “I won’t sell it to you but I’ll give it to you if you will race it.”

Krot proceeded to take 13 year old Heckert to the junkyards to look for just the right motor.  “The motor was tired and bell housing was shot. I took my money that I had earned and bought this motor for $220.”

“He showed me how to port the manifold and what cam shaft to get and what grinds to put on the cam shaft.” Heckert was in business.  Re-reading the owner’s manual, Heckert would check in with Krot and follow his advice—but continue the work and progress on his own.

The point all of this is that this guy was that this guy dealt with me as if I had a brain, had the ability, and was an adult.  He never talked down to me. 

 I never forgot about Paul and my Volvo but I never really got a perspective on how important it was for me developmentally until I was reminiscing about it recently. That I had taken the initiative to get the car and then met Paul and his attitude was “you can do this,” without faint praise or hand-holding, and then completing gave me a sense of accomplishment that I carrier forward to future projects.

Heckert made his way from there to an award winning art career with exhibitions around the globe.  He is currently Chief Engineer for TCHO chocolate in San Francisco, having re-engineered their vintage East German chocolate manufacturing equipment into a full-scale production line on Pier 17.

He’s also currently saying goodbye to Walk and Peck, which has just been acquired by a museum. Come and pay a little homage Sunday at the Faire.

P.S. Check this shot below, the original wiring notes from the control box:

Mr. and Mrs. Maker: Jon Sarriugarte and Kyrsten Mate

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Did you get that enormous, weighty Restoration Hardware catalog (I mean “magazine”) about a month ago? Heavy as the heaviest September Vogue?  Maybe you noticed in there a giant feature spread on their new lighting designer,  “Oakland Oilpunk,” blacksmith Jon Sarriugarte.

Or maybe you saw The Avengers, Brave, War Horse, The Incredibles, TRON Legacy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Peter Pan, HULK or Lord of the Rings?  Then award-winning Skywalker Sound sound editor/sound designer Kyrsten Mate might ring a bell if you are in the local movie biz or a film credit junkie.

Better yetmaybe you went to Burning Man over the last 5+ years and saw the Serpent Twins, the Golden Mean snail car, or the Electrobite Olenoides?

Kyrsten Mate and Jon Sarriugarte are the dynamic power maker couple behind these extraordinary art cars.  They do these projects with (talented) friends on top of holding demanding day jobs and being parents to their Zolie Mae.

Their combined aesthetic prowess and extreme craftsmanship—along with the strength of their greater team—result in just plain stunning projects.  Come meet Jon and Kyrsten at 2PM in the Studio One Theater, see more of their work, hear some great stories… and get inspired!