The Maker Movement: Who is It For?

↑ Play State Of Wonder, OPB‘s weekly journal of arts and creative work.

Who is it for? We’ve heard that question pop up in different yet strongly related contexts. In the familiar debate over the size of government, Robert Reich says the important question isn’t the size of government, but simply: Who is the government for? When we concern ourselves with that question, we get a more effective government.

This critical question—who is it for?—also came up in this week’s State of Wonder program from Oregon Public Broadcasting in an interview with two people involved with the maker movement (not John Galt’s, actual makers). You can play the segment above.

On May 11th, the White House hosted a National Makers’ Roundtable to talk about what it takes to transform makers into start-ups. Oregon was represented at the Roundtable by a half-dozen makers and advocates, including OPB’s interviewees, Kelley Roy and Josh Lifton.

Roy is the founder and director of ADX Portland, a collective fabrication space in southeast Portland that offers everything from classes to custom manufacturing. Lifton, a former Puppet Labs exec, has founded a start-up called Crowd Supply. It offers an online platform and back-end services to help makers raise money and visibility for their projects.

One highlight from the interview:

Roy: It’s the disconnect between Obama making all these statement about supporting makers, on-shoring and re-shoring of manufacturing jobs, and a trade policy that is not doing that, that’s actually shifting more jobs overseas. I wish he’d had [the event] at Chris King, a local manufacturer who makes 90% of his product in America, and 40% of his product is exported.

Lifton: The question for me with the TPP is, ‘Who is it for?’ Who does it really benefit?’ If you look at who’s making the decisions, it’s very clearly multi-national corporations. It’s not these companies that may become the next large companies.

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