On Sunday, June 3 Makeboro (aka Makers Guild Inc.) kicked off its first season of programming with a special Fix-It Day and a “Handing Over the Keys” celebration (commemorating the partnership with The Nature Conservancy). Volunteers helped refresh Makeboro’s street-facing façade — recently dubbed the Community Front Porch and intended as a welcoming hub for all — and helped repair small engines and other mechanical devices. From what I could tell, the event was a ringing success!
Conditions were sunny and breezy, and the spring air smelled like innovation. My visit to the fledgling maker space in the heart of Willsboro left me vibrating from the vigor, vision, and optimism. An infectious wave of optimism affected me from the moment I stepped out of my car. I bumped into Bryan Burke first, smiling ear to ear and laughing warmly while rolling cheery green paint onto the previously red bricks. Then Tom Duca, busy removing weeds from the parking lot, practically sang his greeting. Some might suggest that Tom — who is very merry always! — might not offer the best barometer, but his exuberance was shared by all. Beverly Eichenlaub and Andy Wekin and Steven Googin (North Country Creamery) and Peter Paine and Willsboro Supervisor Shaun Gillilland and The Nature Conservancy Land Protection Manager Chris Jage, all waxed practically Pollyanna-ish about the future of the former supermarket building.
And I fully share their optimism. The immense building has stood empty quite long enough. Now a cohort of collaborative crusaders is committed to making Makeboro into a hive of innovation and creativity, a hustle-bustling incubator at the heart of Willsboro. And what a location! The maker space is situated across the road from the picturesque Boquet River, adjacent to the new and improved Willsboro hardware store and the senior living center, and convenient walking distance to both Turtle Island Cafe and the diner. Sounds like the perfect formula for success.
Makeboro Envisions Bright Future
I quickly discovered that everyone participating in last Sunday’s volunteer day is anticipating a bright future for the space. Three of the most eager cheerleaders for the community revitalization project are Beverly Eichenlaub, Chris Jage, and Shaun Gillilland.
Beverly Eichenlaub — a glass artist, practicing architect, and one half of Premises Architecture (with husband/architext Bryan Burke) — is attending and presenting at NOMCON (Nation of Makers Conference) in Santa Fe, New Mexico this weekend. This national conference is a “gathering of leaders representing the breadth of the maker movement… [aiming] to spark and increase connections across sectors, [and] generate robust collaborations… A central goal of the event is the promotion of relationship-building across lines of regular conversation, generating an increased sense of connected community throughout the entire ecosystem of maker-supporting entities.” (Source: NOMCON) Sounds like exactly the sort of event that will help her guide Makeboro toward success.
Chris Jage is thrilled that The Nature Conservancy is partnering with the grassroots initiative. He took us to the far edge of the former IGA parking lot to indicate where a future nature trail is being mapped out. Gesticulating grandly into the sylvan forest, Jage narrated a bucolic-but-accessible trail into Technicolor existence.
Shaun Gillilland was similarly clairvoyant, confidently predicting that the collaborative art/enterprise incubator will be a major asset for Willsboro and the broader community. I told the Willsboro Town Supervisor about my own personal experience as a member of a community maker space, and he nodded affirmatively, never once abandoning the ear-to-ear smile that seems to be his signature. Having invested his own political capital into this initiative, he seemed rightly proud of the vision that Makeboro is striving to implement. And he is eager to have the broader community discover and embrace what he anticipates will bring positive change to his town.
Makeboro Fix- It Day Gallery
The following photos were submitted by Beverly Eichenlaub. If you have additional photos from the Makeboro Celebrates Fix- It Day and “Handing Over the Keys” celebration, please contact us.