Are you a crafter, maker, tinkerer, or artist? And a mom? Congratulations! You could be a Hacker Mom and I'm happy to introduce you to a community of women that will enable you to get your DIY on. I asked the founder, Sho Sho, a few questions.
Hacker Moms is a women’s hackerspace located in Oakland, CA dedicated to giving mothers the time and space to explore DIY craft and design, hacker/maker culture, entrepreneurship, and all manner of creative expression. Because kids learn by watching their mamas, they provide on-site childcare every time they meet.
Q: How did Hacker Moms begin?
I had started a creative moms group earlier this year because I thought we moms needed to have more fun in our lives to counterbalance the demands of being the perfect modern mother. Life with young kids can be an isolating state and a fractured existence. It became clear that childcare was a major barrier. Mothership HackerMoms evolved with babysitting as an integral part of our creative process, giving us the time and space to work. Traditional moms groups tend to be about the kids. We are here to first support the mother, her identity as a powerful creator, woman, explorer, entrepreneur, the artist of her life and of family life. We want to model active creative lives for our kids to learn from, so it's important for them to be present with their projects, too.
One misconception is that you have to be an artist to be a hackermom, but that's not true. Maybe you have a project in mind. Maybe you crave community or want to find a hobby. Maybe you have that spirit of curiosity as a mom interested in her own growth as a woman, individual and a mother. If we don't support this playful creative self, we risk burnout, depression, and 2-yr-old-level temper tantrums. It's a use it or lose it philosophy to motherhood sanity. All work and no play makes mom a dull mother, lover and friend!
Above all, these moms just want to have fun. Fun to us is not mani-pedis and blowouts (those can be nice), but making, breaking, learning and realizing our bright ideas, however outlandish, zany or normal. These other creations are like our children, too, and need a chance at life. It can be easier – and much more fun – to do that together than alone.
Q: What sort of projects do people tackle?
We all seem to be in the middle of our own various side projects and passions like photography, screenwriting, illustration, businesses, craft. But our common workshop list runs the gamut from print/mold making, furniture building and refinishing, and product design/business development, all the way to taxidermy, voice talent, breadmaking, and stop-motion animation as things we're interested in exploring.
Right now we are making cool things to sell for an art show in December as our first fundraiser. Hopefully we'll rent a space next year for our really big projects!
Q: How many people come each time?
About 10 regulars with a few people coming to check us out on Thursday nights. We are beginning to meet the second Sundays of the month.
Q: What else would you like to share?
It's great being part of the international hackerspace community. All hackerspaces develop their own identity over time. Traditional ones are techie guy spaces, but ours is the first women's hackerspace, and we are a very new group, just a few months old. I'm really interested how a female identity will be reflected in our space, how we will redefine hacking and making. We love the community of our local brethren, Ace Monster Toys in Oakland and Noisebridge in SF who offer mature models of hacker life.
Q: What are your favorite East Bay places to go with kids?
Personally I like the Emeryville Marina, the Mini Maker Faire, the racetrack (gourmet food trucks, space to run, animals!), the East Bay Vivarium, Habitot, and Adventure Playground. My girls are 4 years old and 7 months old.
Meet the HackerMoms at their holiday art sale or join them for a session. They meet each week on Thursday as well as the last Sunday of each month. Attending moms get together and pay $10/kid for childcare while pursuing independent and collective projects. RSVPs are required so the group can get enough sitters.
My husband discovered them at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire this year. Their most recent event was a lock-picking workshop for spy moms. Intrigued? Check them out and tell them 510Families sent you.