Visiting Jigsaw Renaissance – a maker space in Seattle

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Lion, Sameer, Dan, Budi, Danny Lion, Sameer, Dan, Budi and Danny

I had been planning to do this for a while and finally got around to visiting Jigsaw Renaissance which is a maker space in Seattle. They have recently moved into a really cool historical building and Lion gave us a fun tour of all the spaces and the very interesting basement. The building owners are giving out spaces to artists and creative types and we ran into many people who already call it home. Amidst brainstorming ways to drill holes to make grid beam sticks efficiently and an incentive system to promote community engagement, and learning we had a great time.

If you want to make something, or want to learn how to make something or just want to see what people in your city are interested in making you should visit Jigsaw Renaissance and connect with others who can teach, inspire and encourage you.

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Are people really moving into Seattle?

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Forbes recently published a visualization based on IRS data which shows where Americans moved between 2008 and 2009. You click on the city name that you are interested in and it shows you a dense sets of lines showing migration paths. Red lines show that there was a net number of people moving out whereas black lines show a net number of people moving in. It’s interesting to look at, but really really hard to read, and almost useless due to that. But that’s a different story.

Screen shot 2010-06-18 at 9.12.08 PM

I found it interesting to compare this data with the temperature heatmap of that day. We have had an awfully cold spring but this heatmap really drives in the point. That week, the Pacific Northwest was the coldest region in the country! Makes one wonder, if people really are moving to Seattle in hordes, do they really know what they are getting into?

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The 27 stamps of Seattle Public Library Passport

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To mark the completion of the 10 year Libraries for All program that resulted in 27 new and remodeled branches all around Seattle, the Seattle Public Library created a Passport project to encourage people to visit all the branches and experience how they function to serve each neighborhood in the city.

Starting September 13, 2008, they started giving patrons a passport book that contained information about the Libraries for All program, a map of the city with each branch marked out and individual pages with details about the renovation/building project for each library, its pictures, bus routes. Each branch page also had a blank space to get it stamped from the branch when you visit it.

stamps and information pages 

Click on the image above to see a detailed view of each stamp.

My wife, Jen, and I graduated from the School of Information (a hybrid library science school) at the University of Michigan before moving to Seattle this summer. Jen works for the Seattle Public Library and that’s how we learnt about the Passport program. We thought it was a great way to learn about the city and observe and interact with the people here.

Partly because of my wife’s work and partly motivated by the passport program I got a chance to visit all of the branches. It was great to observe the different architectures, sizes, resources of all the libraries. It was even more interesting to see the stamps and learning about what they signified – which was obvious in some cases and not so obvious in many.

Though I had been to most branches in the past few months, I had often forgotten to get my passport and didn’t get a stamp. Last week, I was a little alarmed to realize that I only had 10 stamps out of the 27 and only five days to go for the deadline of January 2, 2009. Unlike others who did more interesting things like hiking to each branch, or running to each branch in one day, I took the lazy way by just driving to the remaining 15 or so branches.

Both Jen and I completed our passports and submitted them. Now we are both waiting for the prize drawing on January 7, 2009. It seems that by December 17, only about 130 had people completed their passports. Factoring in the last minute scramble that many might have done, the odds still don’t seem so bad.