Hello Maker Faire, where have you been all my life?

You are one sexy beast of a festival that celebrates art, science, technology, crafting and the DIY (do-it-yourself) maker movement. As a parent, I love you for being so damn family friendly.

What’s not to love about motorized cupcakes, battling robots, and stilt-walkers delivering dreams. You seriously kick Disneyland’s ass.

Last weekend’s Maker Faire in San Mateo drew an estimated crowd of 120,000 and over 1000 maker exhibits, with wildly innovative creations and hands-on projects to explore. Makers came in all shapes, colors and sizes, including 120 kid-run booths.

Exhibits and panel discussions from women makers, engineers and artists, were inspiring. I loved the gorgeous fire-exploding metal work of Flaming Lotus Girls, ‘Goldie Blocks’ engineering blocks for girls, HackerScouts and The Breast Stop, an interactive art installation for moms and babies.

As a co-founder of Mothership HackerMoms – the first women’s hackerspace in Berkeley – I can relate to the ‘Make or Die’ motto of Maker Faire and how fun it can be to DIT (do-it-together.) Mothership HackerMoms is a non-profit space where mothers of any gender can explore hacker/maker culture, entrepreneurship, art and design.

We share tools, knowledge, community and affordable on-site childcare. Our HackerSprout kid’s workshops (for mini makers 2-6) explore STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) curriculum, as well as, music and movement.

HackerMoms combats the isolation of motherhood and the need to balance family, work and creativity. Founder Sho Sho Smith (the HackerMom wearing the pink beehive), who is no stranger to the hackerspace community (her brother founded Tokyo Hackerspace), wanted to open a haven where creative moms could flourish and support each other.

One year after opening our doors (on a shoe-string budget), we’re tickled pink to be selected by SF Bay Guardian  for their ‘Women in Business’ Award. What’s our business?

Well, I guess you could say that we help make happier mothers, and that’s good for the family, the community and the world.

This year, HackerMoms lost their Maker Faire virginity outside exhibit number seven with our Post Secret-inspired Family Secrets Tree Project. Our maker project had a cerebral and emotional vision.

Visitors were invited to anonymously share a secret, fear or desire in the form of a four by six postcard. We provided the materials, and the card became their canvas.

Secrets were deposited into a mailbox and routinely hung by laundry pins on a DIY plywood tree constructed by HackerMoms. A special thank you goes out to our artists Jen Tol and Sheila Metcalf Tobin, who made a tree design that serendipitously mirrored Maker Faire’s giant weeping willow tree in center court.

Rumor has it HackerMoms has been invited to visit a hackerspace in Rio. Now, there’s an idea I could fall in love with.

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. Having said that, we LOVE this story.



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