Skip navigation

Space Federation overview and goals


Space Federation overview and goals

Take a look, still in draft mode, provide feedback:


Parts that need work: Leadership and Group Dynamics, after flow is done establish table of contents

The mission of the Space Federation is “to provide connective and organizational support to open communities in shared physical spaces who use innovative methods and technology in hands-on education.
The Space Federation program helps connect people who make hackerspaces, makerspaces, co-working spaces and other creative/community environments.“

But what what does that mean? Space Federation exists to provide specific organizational support like negotiating paperwork and legal counsel, general inter-personal support in the form of networking and mentoring, and specific troubleshooting support for helping us all solve the known and well-explored problems that spaces like ours are prone to experience. You can make use of different aspects the Space Federation - think of it like LEGOs. You can use as many or as few of the modular pieces as you would like.

Specific Organizational SupportRegulatory and Tax Compliance

The main thing the Space Federation has talked about in the past is fiscal sponsorship and group exemption. The overhead required to comply with 501c3 is too great for individual spaces, and so School Factory offers fiscal sponsorship. This means the spaces gain the legitimacy and ease of transaction that non profit status provides without the headaches of paperwork. For those groups who would like their own 501c3, we share documentation of process for a smoother experience.

The fun doesn't stop there, though. Things like accounting assistance and legal consultation can be more readily obtained by pooling resources. If we present a united front declaring ourselves a movement, we will start to work on things like insurance styling and zoning designation. Having an over arching entity for distributed hacker/maker spaces ensures success when applying for grants. It would allow for a higher probability that grants are awarded, and the cost of a grant writer would be distributed amongst those who would benefit.

General Inter-Personal Support

SpaceCamp at Maker Faire NYC

We’ve been doing SpaceCamps at Maker Faires. The attending facilitators get to know each other, and Faire attendees are exposed to the wide variety of spaces. It’s been great fun, and we’re looking forward to doing it again!

Have you already registered? Didn't have time to submit to Maker Faire? We have some extra table space, and we'll see if you can fit. Ping Willow1. We'll be gathering Friday the 16th at 20:30 (after set-up and Maker Meetup) to talk about some of these ideas and drink. Come out!


SpaceCamp MKE (January 7th and 8th)

Unconference! In Space! Let’s get together and have dedicated time to learn from each other. Come prepared to present. We're working on getting funding for travel scholarships, and we'll all throw in together to cover food and drink. Bring a tent and a sleeping bag, we'll camp out in Bucketworks itself.

Yes, we know Milwaukee is balls cold in January, but we have to balance out how hot it just was in Detroit. Plus, Willow wants to spend at least a month at home, it's not during conference season, you'll have recovered from traditional holidays, and it's not during the MIT puzzle challenge (have no fear). The Bucketworks space is sustainably heated by steam heat from the nearby power plant. It's snug, warm, and cozy inside. There are also plenty of breakout rooms. You will experience one of America's largest spaces which is uniquely designed for collaborative conference events like this.

Tracks fall into the general categories listed above, and might include things like "If you could go back in time, what lessons would you impart to yourself (and how would you get you to listen?)" "Pokelhaftigkeil (the slump in energy after formation)" "Succession Planning" and "avoiding recreating hierarchical systems when trading time for dues" (add more ideas to the Atrium blog - please tag appropriately and comment a +1 on ideas you like).

We’ll be capping attendance at around 200, so please submit to attend on the eventbrite by November 1st and Willow will get back to you about travel logistics by November 10th. We will not have enough resources to cover everyone's travel, so if you are able to support yourself, please do. Even more phenomenal would be sponsoring another facilitator too. <3


Officer Exchange Program

Want to be out of your element? Want some perspective, some empathy, and to pick up some mad skillz? Let's do an officer exchange program!
Here's the super rough idea:

  • Go to another space in the Federation for a week and participate with them, especially on the board/administrative level
  • Do a daily blog entry about something you've learned (refer to Long Category)
  • Spend 1 day with others on the same round of Exchange. Meet in a neutral space to discuss what you learned and how you think it might apply to your own spaces and how you might implement those lessons
  • Return home and make go!

Specific Troubleshooting Support

Leadership and Group Dynamics

The dynamics of each space vary wildly from one space to another. We acknowledge and embrace this, as the robustness of this movement is highly dependant on its distributed and adaptable nature. The geographically-based culture of each space is unique, and as a distributed culture, this must remain the case if we are to continue being as powerful as we are. But we still have things we can learn from each other.

There are apparently whole conferences teaching people how to better lead, interact, etc. Crazy, right? But apparently people study this stuff pretty extensively. And they've found stuff that works - maybe some of that might work for us, too.

Remember those documents you agonized over to imbue your values of your group into the rules of the space? Remember the following multi-hour meetings around what had been imperfect, dropped, or just plain wrong? Those of us who have looked through your lessons when constructing our own spaces salute you!

We can share the meta of what we have learned in order to better ourselves and each other. Using the exact same set of rules or documents would not allow for individuality in the localized spaces, however having guiding principals such as "It's important to think about Safe Space. Jigsaw in Seattle has an agreement people must sign which waives their membership rights if they continue to be threatening to others after attempted remediation. “


We teach what we know and we want to learn more. Sometimes knowing how other people have structured their curriculum and events gives a solid starting point. Let's start to more conscientiously share our plans, our recordings, and our notes. This is basically a no-brainer. This is fundamentally what all of these spaces are about: to learn, educate, empower, and make the community better. To learn. Education is the best fulcrum we have for social change. Our brains are hard-wired to learn, with an influx of dopamine each time we interact with something novel.


In Closing..

This is a delicate balance to strike, between distributed networks and centralized knowledge. This is in no way an attempt to centralize. This is about brute forcing the valuing and systematizing of resource and knowledge sharing so that no one else comes along and co-opts this movement. It must be everywhere - we all have our own reasons as to why this mindset must be ubiquitous (or at least far more prevalent than it is now), but if you need a ranty moment, call Willow1. If you don't want to be a part of this thing, that is peachy. We are glad you exist and look forward to seeing what your space does. The diversity of this subculture increases its robustness.

We believe that the initiatives listed here are a good starting point for this effort. See fig1 in Resources below for an idea of the longer-term potentials and goals.

What to do for now

In the meantime, participate in the Spacefed Atrium. Specifically, flesh out the Kit with steps you took when opening your space. Add your membership (and other docs) to the SpaceFed Atrium. Pitch ideas on the Atrium Blog. Lurk in the Hipchat. We know these tools leave something to be desired, and we're happy to work on these things with you. But let's talk the third Wednesday of each month at 18:00 PST. This is not in lieu of the call, but is a different sort of collaboration2. I say this all the time, but I'll say it again - this is a collaborative effort. This is about what we get to ask for from each other and the rest of the world, and the responsibilities we take on in light of what we ask for. Being a part of the Federation in no way means this organization dictates how you run your space. We have enough on our plates. We value mutual aid, emergence, adaptability, and transparency. If you don't, this probably isn't your thing anyway.


  1. In order of preference for making your needs known: make a case in the appropriate Atrium and assign it to Willow. Call into office hours (Tuesdays at 16:00 in whatever timezone she’s in (usually PST). Text her (find number on Atrium).
  2. Willow disclaimer for : very much about first-wave hackerspaces to me. It’s about amazing things, but the vibe is very different because it is established on values of exploits, competition, barriers to entry, and exceptionalism. School Factory is much more about this second wave - extroverted, about social responsibility, and education. These two views can easily coexist and in fact compliment each other quite well.


  • NYC Maker Faire : September 17 and 18
  • SpaceCamp : January 7 and 8
  • Call in : Third Wednesday of each month at 18:00 PST
  • Willow Office Hours : every Tuesday at 16:00 (usually in PST)



Space Federation
Need help?


The blog lets your team communicate by posting updates and discussing issues. It is a great place for sharing progress, discussing challenges, and exploring ideas.