Leaders of the Powell MakerSpace are holding a series of focus groups with individuals from across the Big Horn Basin. The goal is to let people know the resource is available, help connect those …
Leaders of the Powell MakerSpace are holding a series of focus groups with individuals from across the Big Horn Basin. The goal is to let people know the resource is available, help connect those resources with groups that can utilize it, and get an idea of how to move the space forward.
“We’re getting some really good feedback,” said Shaylee Hancock. She’s the treasurer of the Powell MakerSpace Board of Directors and site supervisor for AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), whose volunteers assist at the facility.
The board partnered with Powell Economic Partnership to utilize its expertise in the research. PEP is helping to coordinate the focus groups and will compile the data garnered from the sessions.
“The focus groups are a tool to hear from the community about how they envision using this community space,” said PEP Executive Director Rebekah Burns. She added that the groups can also let people know about the tools the space has to offer.
Like many facilities, the Powell MakerSpace closed as part of pandemic-related precautions last year. Burns said lots of community spaces are looking at reimagining as they open back up.
In November, PEP and MakerSpace held a community cleanup event to help clear out the space and make it more accommodating to the focus groups. It was a first step toward the overall reimagining.
“Shaylee [Hancock] has done a fantastic job positioning the MakerSpace’s operations so that the organization can be successful,” Burns said.
All together, about 75 to 100 people will participate in the groups by the time they’re finished. Each group is given a tour and asked to fill out a questionnaire. There are also informal discussion sessions.
“We’re trying to reach all industries in Powell, all demographics, and all community members we can to get the best data possible,” Hancock said.
She said the board will meet in February to go over the data and get a fuller picture of what it shows. Burns said there are a few themes emerging from the input so far. For instance, there’s a desire for later hours.
Some people expressed interest in using the meeting space for the Boy Scouts and other interest groups. Parents who homeschool their children see potential in the space for classes and to support their curriculum. There is also an interest in having more instruction on using the tools in the various rooms, which include computer equipment, lathes, sewing machines, robotic kits, a metal fabricator and a commercial kitchen.
“There are so many possibilities for the space. It is really exciting,” Burns said.
The Powell MakerSpace opened in February 2016 and is a nonprofit organization, run by its volunteer board of directors. PEP manages a federal grant for the AmeriCorps VISTA program, and VISTA volunteers serve at the MakerSpace for one year to build community capacity, while receiving a living stipend and other federal benefits.