Great idea to map making in Hackney. I thought I’d share some of my experience of mapping manufacturing on the MakerWalk in Bristol.
The MakerWalk was an inspirational window into what is made in a urban area in Bristol. In an area I was repeatedly told had no manufacturing, we found makers of hot airballons, caravans, beds, leather, books, windows, t-shirts and playgrounds and lots others. Plus a multitude of manufacturing skills in wood, metal, precision engineering and glass. All hidden behind quiet and often beautiful building facades. Some companies were in the same location for 170 years (still unknown to their neighbours) and others were new start-ups. The MakerWalk was a great way to contact with makers beyond the normally engaged companies.
Working on a EPSRC ‘Redistributed Manufacturing in a Resilient and Sustainable City’ funded research project I was asked to assess current manufacturing in Bristol. After speaking to over 30 organisations and searching a colossal amount of data and stats it became clear that it was not even possible to find out who was making in the city let alone know the scale, resources used & wasted, or skills of manufacturing. Combined with other public funded orgs unable to share their database of manufactures it became clear we would have to recreate these databases. Inspired by Make Works we decided to get out and map the manufacturing by foot.
*In total we found 108 manufactures in an area I was told there was no manufacturing
*We walked nearly 40 miles over 9 days. It was extremely enjoyable and inspiring
As this was public funded research we wanted it all to be open. We worked with local museum MShed to ensure all the data was archived for the city and will also be exhibited later this year). We also involved local a local fablab so they could widen their connection with local makers. We also wanted to use as much open source tools as possible so other people can repeat the same process. See the attached guide on how to do a MakerWalk and the software we used. This also meant that as many people as you wanted could do the MakerWalk, digitally mapping in real time so there is no labour-intensive documentation work required afterwards. Plus others could track the mapping in as it was happening.
We decided on the MakerWalk approach for several reasons,
- Directory of manufactures (e.g. company house) contained companies we knew did not manufacture in the area (we found an extra 29 manufacturers not listed)
- Traditional manufacturers rarely have a website let alone any social media so finding them is impossible without cold calling into random doors
- Manufacturers are busy making and email/post surveys have tiny response rates - we got 78% response rate with only 6% refusing to talk to us.
- As they were busy we only asked 3 simple questions and most of the time these were very rushed as they were busy working and didn’t want to talk for longer than 2 mins. But it was a great start intro for developing deeper relationships at a later stage.
Let me know if you have any questions about the MakerWalk approach. Depending on what you want to achieve, a less rigorous approach may be more suitable. Or just contacting the companies you are interested in visit and prearrange a visit to actually see their production processes.
There are also a multitude of other mapping exercises to do such as cityscapping, noisescapping, smellscapping, emotional, pollution, airscapping, soundscaping, odorscapping, touchscape etc.
3. Maker Walk Presenation.pdf (2.3 MB)
How to do a Maker Walk Draft.docx (4.7 MB)