Co-creating FabLab La Campana: Empowering a marginalised community in the North of Mexico

Lotz, Nicole; Thomas, Briony; Fernández Cárdenas, Juan Manuel; Reynaga Peña, Cristina; Díaz de León Lastras, Alejandra; Cortes Capetillo, Azael; González Nieto, Noe; Santamaría-Cid de León, David; López, Fabio; Machado, Rafa and Hayhoe, Simon (2019). Co-creating FabLab La Campana: Empowering a marginalised community in the North of Mexico. In: IASDR 2019 The International Association of Societies of Design Research (Evans, Martyn; Saw, Annie; Cooper, Rachel and Hoo Na, Jea eds.), 2-5 Sep 2019, Manchester.

URL: https://iasdr2019.org/research-papers

Abstract

FabLabs are a celebrated approach to formal and informal learning through making with digital fabrication tools. This paper discusses the co-creation of a FabLab with a marginalised community in Monterrey, Mexico. One of the main challenges in establishing these Makerspaces is in sustaining the activities and community engagement on an ongoing basis. In responding to this challenge, this process focused on the empowerment of community members to make the changes they desire, either for themselves or their community. Beyond skills for making and playful engagement in STEAM learning, makerspaces also facilitate the building of networks and partnerships, and the development of social competencies and soft skills, that are often overlooked in the process of empowerment and social mobility. Primary insights from the co-creation process of the La Campana FabLab are reported here. A Mexican higher education institution with a strong social responsibility agenda facilitated the process, securing funds and connecting project partners, locally and globally. Framing the co-creation of the FabLab with the partners was and is an ongoing process. Key factors included the donation of a safe space and tools for the community to host and run the FabLab. Establishing the role of the FabLab in the community from the participants’ point-of-view and committing to regular ongoing educational dialogue was important in forming an equitable partnership between institutions and community. Beyond the physical space, equipment and educational activities, a community architecture intervention demonstrated the large-scale impact digital fabrication could have in creating spaces shaped by and for the community.

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