There is something special about a Maker Faire- beyond the boom of a fire-breathing robot, whistle of model steam train, klick of knitting needles or smell of solder in the air, there is a buzz. It isn’t a sound but a feeling -like exploring a new city. Maker Faires have the anticipation of adventure- you never know what magic the next booth will bring or who you’ll meet, but you know it will be awesome. From small towns to cities like Paris and Hong Kong Maker Faires are happening around the globe, but like the Rocky Mountains, the one we’ve got is pretty unique. Colorado is home to a diverse group of makers from cutting-edge tech developers, creative organizations like Meow Wolf and hobbyists building pinball exhibits and lifesized B-25 bombers. Over the years the Faire has been at a number of venues and this year we’ll be at the National Western Complex. Along with the new location, the Denver Maker Faire has a new board of directors and event manager. Elise VanDyne, who had produced past Faires has taken a fabulous position in California working for the Russian River Chamber of Commerce. Her humor and passion for building an outstanding Faire will be missed.
Stepping into those mighty big shoes to fill is a group of enthusiastic individuals who are fresh to this Faire but longtime makers, fest planners, booth presenters and super geeks.
Managing the Faire this year, Dana Cain has won 14 “Best of Denver”Westword awards for events she owns and operates including “Best Annual Festival”. If you’ve been to the the Denver Modernism Show or recent Unicorn Festival, you’ll know how lucky we are to have her on the team. Her geek/maker creds are strong, just releasing a science fiction rock opera to CD and vinyl which she started working on in highschool.
Leading the board of directors for Making Progress Colorado, the non-profit who operates the Denver Maker Faire is Dan Griner. Currently Director of Design Strategy with Link Product Development and Lecturer at CU Denver. With roles as an Affiliate Professor at Metro State University, Director at DSK ISD in Pune India and Head of Jungbu District EPIK English Program in Korea, Dan has a diverse background in both professional and educational design practices. Former chair of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of IDSA Industrial Designers Society of America, he is well versed in facilitating non-profit groups to support the creative and financial potential of their individual members. But Dan is no stuffed shirt, look for the guy in the cool glasses and easy laughter who’s unloading the truck or helping at the ticket booth and you’ve found our man.
Board member Kate Goodman is mostly a writer who finds herself in the role of professor and researcher for Inworks at CU Denver. Kate researches transformative experiences in higher education — those moments when students connect what they learn in the classroom with the “real world,” which requires intrinsic motivation, and taps into perceptual expertise and creativity. In particular, she has looked at how engineering and other students learn in non-traditional learning environments. What kind of learning is happening when we actually make something instead of studying it? And how can we improve those experiences? Despite the tendency of academics to be insular, she has stayed deliberately polymathic, with publications in topics like engineering education, aesthetics of design, and bioinformatics.
Omar-Pierre Soubra is recognized as one of the international drivers of the Maker Movement, and has collaborated on a regular base with Make: magazine, actively participates at multiple Maker Faires around the World and is the initiator and organizer of the first annual Maker Faire Cape Town, South Africa, in August 2015. He also represented Trimble at the White House Champions of Change for Making in June 2016. He has developed several products for the construction, geospatial and architecture industries, with 16 international patents, in products combining optics, long range 3d scanning (LIDAR) and video camera solutions.
Our final board introduction is to Shawn Bowman, a subversive craft writer and artist who teaches comic creation and game design at Pop Culture Classroom for the producers of Denver Comic Con. Outside of the classroom, Bowman is an armchair gearhead and part owner of vintage sports car shop Ax and Allies Automotive which specializes in repair and restoration of pre 1980’s British and French vehicles . A consummate creator, she has participated in a number of Maker Faires around the west, as booth presenter, speaker and enthusiastic fan girl. As a board member, Bowman aims to embrace the concept of “Tequity”; the active practice of creating situations and opportunities to promote underserved and underrepresented individuals and organizations in the tech and related fields; ensuring equal accessibility to information, career development and job security, leveling the playing field to create an industry which accurately reflects our community.
Moving forward, the production team relies on your input and support. If you’d like to become more involved in the Faire beyond a booth, please reach out- we’d be happy for more volunteer help, sponsorship or to get your feedback from previous Faires. And please nudge your maker friends to bring their own creations in October, there’s nothing like workshopping your concept to a crowd of thousands to take a bright idea into the next big thing.