In a busy digital world, working with your hands, turning physical materials into something new, through your creativity and experimentation, can be cathartic. Working in an office, the neverending to-do lists, and tasks that remain in the glow of a screen. Taking the time to start with pure raw materials, and turning it into something new, even if it is less than perfect, can feel wonderful. Embracing the research behind finding your creative flow can be a stress reliever, positive for your mental health.

So when making is joined by friends, community, and other passionate people, makerspaces are an example of how we gain more by working together

than alone. In the decline of social interaction, we lose skills and crafts that once educated and enriched our social lives. When faced with a creative challenge, being able to ask for input and help, elevates the tangible results of the makers’ flow experience.

In the nostalgic art school model in Northern New Hampshire, a group of small business entrepreneurs created a collective shared studio space, to work alone, together. Assemble is a creative partnership that works as a makerspace in a small town in the White Mountains. A pottery studio, a stained glass studio, woodshop, and metals studio is full of tools, materials, music, classroom space and a kitchen for lunches and coffee. The individual studios came together to reinvent the energy of collaboration and cross inspiration they find when working together, rather than alone. A legal partnership, and keyholders at $60 a month, contribute to the overhead costs and opens the studios to the public for classes and open studio work. Each makerspace reflects the passions of the people in them, many models are non-profits with a variety of studio spaces and access to tools and equally high-tech and low technology equipment. The New Hampshire Makerspace Network includes Assemble, Claremont Makerspace, GALA Community, Make it So, Make It Labs, Making Matters, Manchester Makerspace, MAXT Makerspace, and Port City Makerspace.

Makerspaces contribute to economic development in four principle ways: (1) creating a cultural change, by encouraging entrepreneurship in the community; (2) supporting small business growth through the provision of services; (3) providing workforce training; and (4) increasing workforce retention. Makerspaces are not a stand-alone solution to the economic needs of small cities and regions; rather, they view themselves as an active component of their regions business ecosystem and strive to fill gaps that they perceive. Thus, they fit well within third-wave economic development strategies by attempting to add to the capabilities of a region and grow small businesses within their communities

Assemble Studios community mural at the Art Park designed by Gorham artist Deidre Noreen. The colorful mural welcomes you into town with a bright smiling sunshine face surrounded by the trappings of a revitalized mill community.

Grand opening of Assemble, September 8th, 2018