[Noisebridge-discuss] think bigger

Praveen Sinha dmhomee at gmail.com
Sat Apr 5 02:33:43 UTC 2014

The idea of noisebridge as an entity being constrained by leases and zoning
laws is one that is frequently bandied about.

Indeed, in some amount of time, our lease will be up for re-negotiation, at
which point we may have to make our own hard decisions of whether we can
afford a rent increase, or be zoned for the next block of luxury housing in
the mission.

To me, a community is much more powerful than mere contracts or money - in
fact, it is the community itself that defines both of these things.  To me,
a community (and movements in general) is most powerful when everyone has
an ability to participate.  A lot of my off-time work is trying to deal
with circumstances of  people on the margins of participation:  often times
people who have lived their whole lives with a world that expects to
apologize for they are.  I'll write more on that later.  We are all
experiencing the first hand pains and momentous task of forming and growing
a community.

We have options to take on both our lease and our zoning.  It would require
landlord buy-in, and it would require pulling connections inside the city:
 both of these are doable - as an example, many of you may know my housing
collective has been working with the San Francisco Land Trust  (
http://www.sfclt.org/ ) to save our house from getting converted into a
condoplex (and I highly encourage other people living in large collectives
to look into this).

We in the tech community in the bay area are blessed with a lot of
political power and influence: and this doesn't just mean twitter or
google.  Not only do we have observers from around the world, but we have
observers and friends in city hall watching from a distance.  As chaotic
and disenfranchised we may think of ourselves, in reality we all wield a
tremendous amount of influence as noisebridgers:  we just don't know it yet
(and this pattern of internalized political disenfranchisement is common
not just amongst nerds but across many communities).

So what does all of this have to do with our tiny collective?  Our kitchen
issues?  Our disorganized circuit equipment?  In the span that I've been at
noisebridge, I've seen and participated in:  people adding new senses in
their bodies, people writing the next generation machine recognition
software, people making next generation low cost printable circuits, people
making at home gene amplification technology, people grow mushrooms on a
wall, people getting fucked on a table by a dildo and spanked by bondage
clowns, having knock down intersectional fights of race and gender,  being
 a technological staging ground for the occupy protests, having our hacker
home double up as a shelter for years at a time and still function.   We
are creating and challenging the bounds of what can be done and is possible
and not just technologically but socially.

In that, I submit that our pains have not to do with mismanagment, but that
we need to grow into our next phase for an even larger and more dynamic
community:  I don't know what it's going to look like or what the outcome
will be, but as everyone is shuffling about in this latest re-org, I think
it's important to think bigger and more radical and more creative and more
inclusive.  As a hackerspace, we can go in directions no other space or
collective on the planet is capable of at the moment.  Keep it mind as we
fight our battles, whatever side of drama you wind up on.

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