The LI4E Community Innovation Center at John F. Germany Library
The LI4E Community Innovation Center at John F. Germany Library is a 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art creative space that will bring new functionality to the Library, provide small business support and pioneer new avenues of creative expression, knowledge acquisition and entrepreneurship for people of all ages , backgrounds, abilities and interests.
The mission of the LI4E Community Innovation Center (CIC) is to provide capacity building and commensurate economic development to area residents and other members of the community in cost effective, collaborative ways, utilizing the existing expertise and experience of community members who are professionals in their fields.
The LI4E CIC at John F. Germany Library is arranged into eight distinct, but flexible sections:
- TechMasters Center
- Entrepreneurial Center
- Robotics Test Lab
- Hands-On Workshop
- Machine Shop
- Media Lab & Studio
- Arts Center
- Computer Lab
And has additional functionality from the use of the Library Auditorium for community events and a dedicated CIC Website with a variety of user features. The CIC will open in three phases, with the first phase scheduled for January 2014.
History of the LI4E Community Innovation Center Project
The LI4E Community Innovation Center (CIC) Project is designed to bring together individuals, organizations, businesses and agencies interested in changing culture through the creation of accessible, sustainable and enduring public creative spaces throughout Tampa Bay, Florida and beyond. Our ultimate goal is provide places where everyone can learn, innovate, manufacture and create in personally fulfilling and economically productive ways. We do this by:
- Working to identify potential public spaces
- Coordinating with interested city and county facilities like libraries to inform, inspire and remove barriers to makerspace creation,
- Hosting an annual Makerspace Unconference and
- Hosting “Pop Up” Makerspace projects and events like the Red Bull Creation and The Deconstruction to raise awareness and visibility, and to introduce to the general public the fun and productive energy possible when people are given tools and opportunities to be creative.
- Providing information and networking resources via website, social media and real time meetings and get togethers, including a Makers Library.
At our 2012 Mini Maker Faire Makerspace Unconference, we were joined by folks experienced in the matter, from Familab in Orlando, and Fab Lab in Sarasota, MOSIs Idea Zone and local collaborators from Makerspace Tampa Bay , Learning is for Everyone, and the University Area Community Development Corporation, from which we created the LI4E Makerspace Project community.
We held a 2nd Makerspace Unconference at our 2013 Mini Maker Faire, to share lessons learned and progress so far – and there has, in fact, been progress!
Pop Up Progress
Our LI4E Makerspace project was named one of the top ten 10,100, 1000 projects by Creative Loafing in 2012, made it into the semi-finals with our Red Bull Creation project during the summer of 2012 and participated again in the spring of 2013. At the start of 2013, we formed a collaborative team with The Urban Conga, an interactive art installation group, to compete in The Deconstruction - and we won the top judges award! Like our Red Bull Creation entry, it was a fun project with a serious aim – to help people see and experience firsthand the power of the creative process.
In the fall of 2012, Learning is for Everyone began working with the Pasco County Library System (a partner for the 2013 Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire) , in consultation with James Carlson of SchoolFactory.org, to bring Makerspaces to area libraries, and by the summer of 2013, began partnerships with area libraries to develop Community Innovation Centers, with plans now underway in Pasco County as well as in Hillsborough.
Why Do We Need Community Innovation Centers?
CICs are good for individuals, and good for neighborhoods, providing community enhancing ways to repurpose unused or underused facilities, and enhancing existing spaces like libraries, to provide meaningful opportunities to teach employable and entrepreneurial skills, and lucrative ways to benefit from collaborations between area businesses and organizations who can reap the rewards of well-placed mentoring ranging from a better skilled workforce to locally developed products.
Additionally, CICs become community gathering places, putting capacity building and resource development into the hands of area residents who need it most, empowering ordinary people to become extraordinary Makers of their future and Tampa Bay’s.
Why Learning is for Everyone?
With strong business and community relationships and a solid reputation for creating successful, enduring, hands-on, high quality experiential learning programs like Maker Festivals, TEDxYouth@TampaBay, and an award winning community FIRST robotics STEM education program, Learning is for Everyone has the learning management expertise, and networking and community education experience to organize and operate Community Innovation Centers.
Collaborating with Learning is for Everyone maximizes community outreach in a powerful, cost-effective, mutually beneficial way, helping collaborating organizations meet their mission and goals of empowering residents through knowledge and skills development, and providing the added value of solid economic development.
Central to the Community Innovation Center is hobby and entrepreneurial development and group co-working space, “open make” opportunities for people to work on their own projects, and a TechMasters
Center where people can come for tech support and guidance.
Community Innovation Centers enhance economic development in the community and provide unique and enduring capacity building for area residents, and offer a precedent setting model of 21st century learning and living in Tampa Bay, in Florida and beyond.
We’re very excited to have these collaborative opportunities to learn how to use and resuse properties and facilities for public creative purposes, and look forward to sharing the journey with others interested in creating similar spaces in their communities.
Tampa Bay area residents interested in staying updated on CIC progress are invited to complete our CIC Interest Form.
Gulf Coast Makers
LI4E created Gulf Coast Makers to offer a broader creative community to Gulf Coast area entrepreneurial and creative DIYers interested in getting back to the grassroots nature of the maker movement. The Gulf Coast Makers website and associated social media provide a range of resources and information, including a Makers Library, Education resources, a Gulf Coast Makers Consortium Directory of community resources, as well as a calendar of community events and programs.