Friday, October 1, 2010

Nerdvana Exported

Michigan Expats – News - See All News

By John Galt New-maker-faire-Sept-2010-in-Queens-NYC[1]

With all the talk lately of Detroit’s creative rebirth, which I have to say I did not fully understand until recently, I have been inspired to revisit a topic near and dear to my heart.

It’s no secret that I have found the San Francisco hype a bit overblown. There really isn’t much here that can’t be gotten elsewhere. In fact, I used to be quite vocal about this belief until this past June when I was proven wrong, at least in part. It was when I first attended the most glorious festival in all of nerdvana, known as the Bay Area Maker Faire.

Maker Faire is a Bay Area festival for all things creative, held since 2006. This year was my first time, and it was the most bizarrely satisfying expepost-tm2-13[1]rience I have ever encountered.  It is a festival celebrating the Bay Area’s most bizarre, creative, eccentric, and ultimately fascinating works or invention, art, science, and engineering.  Remote controlled boats were battling (and sinking) each other in a mock WWII scene. Racing go-carts that were shaped as cupcakes. A giant terrifying vehicle that walked like a steel tarantula.  A snow cone maker built out of a full size steam engine.  A flame throwing fire engine that created such an explosion one could feel the visceral thump in your chest from across the fairground. It was a mad scientist/wacky artist Woodstock that would make the acid-tripping hybrid offspring of Nikola Tesla and Dr. Emmett Brown proud. In a word, it was magnificent.  And only a place like San Francisco could pull it off.  Until now… 

This year, for the first time, Maker Faire exported their orgy of creative explosion to other U.S. cities. The two other cities were New York (of course, I suppose), and Detroit. Wait, Detroit? Not Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles or Austin? I would have expected Branson, Missouri before I expected Detroit. When I heard that the Henry Ford Museum was involved in bring it to Detroit, I smugly dismissed it, thinking it was just another corporate sponsored attempt to bring culture to the cesspool of Detroit. Little did I know that Detroit already had more than enough inventive wackiness to fit right into the Maker Faire starting lineup.

Only recently have I really begun to educate myself on the resurgence of alternative art culture that seems to be reinvigorating (parts of) Detroit. After seeing the recently posted Detroit Lives documentary, I have a much greater appreciation for the creative renaissance taking place in what was once viewed as the black eye of my home state.

Looking at Detroit with this new perspective, I now better understand why Maker Faire chose Detroit. I am sad to say that Maker Faire: Detroit 2010 has already passed in early August, and I didn’t seem to hear much about it. I hope it catches on, so I can go next year.


  1. mmmm... snow cones from a full size steam engine... *homer simpson noise*

  2. Yes, Maker Faire Detroit will be back at The Henry Ford next year; mark your calendar for July 30-31, 2011!

    We had just over 18,000 people attend this year's Maker Faire Detroit; one of my favorite articles on the event's activities was on

    Hope you can make it here next year, John!