Just tryna chill

Some of the most important skills we strive to teach within our space are resiliency and openness to failure. As a Mentor whose primary responsibility has been to float between our program locations as support staff and to assist in staff transitions, how can I expect that my mere presence in our space will invite Makers to engage in an activity that could result in failure? Embarking on a long term project requires a level of trust in a Mentor, because by challenging themselves to engage on a deep level, our Makers become inherently vulnerable. As I rotate from library to library and am greeted by the new faces of enthusiastic Makers, my responsibility as a Mentor has deviated from helping them identify goals and teaching skills, to hanging out with them and creating a safe space where they feel comfortable adventuring and having fun. I want and need desperately to know them, both so that I can learn how to engage them and so they can trust me to support them through a challenge. And I hope they want to know me too.

HOMAGO, one of the acronyms used to describe makerspaces, has been ultra relevant to this introspection regarding relationship building. HOMAGO (hanging out, messing around, geeking out), represents the journey that one embarks on when they enter a makerspace. This journey is one of transitions; the transition from simply being in the space to engaging with the materials present to eventually spending time on a project and seeing it through completion. Most conversations lead by educators around this acronym focus on a Mentor’s duty to facilitate their Makers’ transitions out of the messing around phase and into geeking out. II want to challenge that. When I think of my own role in our space and how tied it is to relationships and trust, I realize that the most important thing Maker Jawn provides to its participants isn’t necessarily access to high tech materials and tools. It is the space and the people; an atmosphere that attracts, encourages, and inspires creativity based on the relationships that exist there.

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