CHICAGO — Calling all makers, tinkerers, doers and hackers: The organizers behind a local hackerspace want you to know you've got a new home for collaboration.
Located on the second floor of a massive industrial building at 2233 S. Throop St., the brand new South Side Hackerspace kicks off with an open house party on Saturday.
The group was co-founded last year by Dmitriy Vysotskiy and Matt Campbell, former Illinois Institute of Technology students who hatched plans to create a shared hands-on workspace for the do-it-yourself crowd, not unlike the collaborative effort taking place at Pumping Station One in Avondale.
"Finally one day I said ‘Yes, let’s do it ourselves. Nothing's stopping us,” said Vysotskiy, a 24-year-old electrical engineer and Humboldt Park resident. “It’s really about technical, mechanical stuff. Things that people consider DIY."
The pair originally launched their version of a hackerspace — a term used to describe community-oriented places for people to work and play — in a Bridgeport apartment. It’s since grown to about 20 dues-paying members, and together they’ve secured enough funding to rent their own space inside the warehouse that also houses Mana Studios.
The accommodations are sparse so far, but the group plans to add a woodworking shop, an area for laser cutting, a space for 3-D printers and workstations to accommodate various hobbies.
And that’s key to the whole spirit of the space. It’s about doing projects, not merely thinking about them.
To that end, they’ve been reaching out to local groups like Bubbly Dynamics, the TOOOL lockpicking group and Pleasant House — vastly different organizations bonded by a similar roll-up-your sleeves ethos — to help build interest. Vysotskiy said they’ve been approached by a few tech startups who are scouting out workspaces.
Bobby Zylstra is an architect who hooked up with the group as it was forming last year. The 29-year-old Bridgeport resident is also an engineer, a tinkerer in the city's 3-D printing boom and a believer in the sort of community-based know-how that places like the SouthSide Hackerspace hopes to foster.
"For me it’s all about the community and...helping people with their projects," he said.
He wants the group to keep growing and to "get people involved and build a community around it to use it as a resource. There’s a lot of knowledge there."
The SSH: Chicago Open House takes place 7-11 p.m. Saturday at 2233 S. Throop St., Room 214. A handful of commemorative, limited edition 3D printed rockets will be handed out while supplies last. Looking to learn more? Check out the SSH:Chicago website.