Alysa Bumgarner: 2019 Election Questions

Hey fellow makers,
I am a more recent transplant to the area, but a life-long fan of making and DIY! I’m a fan of making everything from home improvement to personalized board games, ceramic and wooden creatures, and I even have creatures living in my fridge because I love making homemade goods, especially live cultures you have to feed weekly (sourdough starter and yogurt). My husband Kevin and I found MakeICT while exploring our new city a little under three years ago and we knew immediately we had to come check it out. We have been members ever since! I was nominated by a few people to run for At Large and as VP and I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to help further our organization.

  1. What are some favorite things you have already done for MakeICT?
    I am a HUGE fan of cleaning and organizing, so I enjoy helping the space out with these types of things whether that is during events or on my own when I see the need. I also recently got to thinking about how I wanted to help MakeICT grow its membership and decided the best way I could contribute to that of my own power was to start teaching classes that are aimed at getting new members into the building, so I have taught classes that have brought new members into the space, and I plan to continue doing so.

  2. What in your opinion qualifies you to be a board member?
    To answer this, I feel I should address what I think makes a good board member. I think a good board member is someone who first and foremost is passionate about our space. I think its someone who is able to step back and look at issues logically without injecting a personal bias, and someone who wants to further our space.
    I am a somewhat newer member, I have been a member for around two-and-a-half years, and I have loved the concept from the moment I walked in. I am so excited about our space and the opportunities it has to offer our community at such an affordable price. It truly makes making a possibility for almost anyone which is incredible! These facts seem to just fall out of my mouth when giving tours, teaching first-timers in our space, and even to established members. It’s just so true and I am quite proud to be apart of it!
    It’s super important to me to look at spending and other decisions from the organization’s standpoint. I like to look at potential new decisions and costs with a couple questions in mind:
    What will this do for the organization?
    How much impact will it have?
    Based on those two questions, is it worth our time, effort, and funds?
    These things don’t mean my opinion never matters, but as a board member it’s important to consider the organization as a whole and not allow ones personal bias to lead the way.
    Finally, as a member, the best way I knew how to better our space was to begin teaching classes, so I have done just that. Becoming a board member would allow me to further improve and grow our space in addition to helping out at events for cleaning and organizing, and teaching classes, etc.

  3. If you have served on the Board in the past, What do you feel you did right? What do you think you did wrong, or could have done better?
    This would be my first time as a board member.

  4. Are you able to be at Board meetings, Maker Mondays and other events for the duration of your term?
    Yes, to the best of my ability. I do have a trip planned during the annual meeting that my husband and I planned almost a year ago, so I unfortunately I won’t make it to that.

  5. It is our mission to innovate, learn, and build community at the intersection of art, technology, science, and culture. How would you support our mission as leadership?
    I would like to encourage more people in our space to teach classes about things that inspire them. I think we do a decent job of being involved in local things like the Mini Maker Faire but think we can always improve on those types of things as well. Community involvement is huge. It’s a great way to get our name out there! I also think we can use our Facebook even more than we already do to get our name out there to potential new members.

What should we do next?

  1. What are your thoughts about MakeICT’s direction in the coming year?
    I am elated to see us working toward a new building. We are currently bursting at the seams! That’s going to be a huge one this year, whether the building in the works goes through or not.

  2. What’s your agenda for what you want to accomplish in the coming year?
    Let’s get into a new building that is affordable but offers space. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to rush or jump willy-nilly into a building that isn’t right for us, but we absolutely need more room than what we currently have, but also, we have to be realistic because like many of you, I don’t want to see our dues to go up. With that comes a little give and take with the building.

  3. How will you gauge whether we’re successful as an organization?
    First of all, I think success is a spectrum. Just because we aren’t as successful as we could be, doesn’t mean we are failing. It is important to note, though, because that means we recognize that we have room to improve, which is where I think we currently fall on the spectrum.
    There are a few questions I would ask that could help guide us as to where we fall on the spectrum:
    Are our members happy?
    Are we thriving?
    Is our building healthy?
    Are our tools in good shape?
    The answers to these questions will help to determine where we fall in the spectrum, but more importantly allows us to see our problem areas. This will allow us to target those areas for improvement. There is always room to grow, innovate, and improve. The difficult part is finding those areas and figuring out the best way to improve them and that is what the board is there to do with the support of its members.

  4. How do we keep and grow membership?
    Making our members happy first and foremost! This involves keeping the building in good shape, safe, and keeping our tools in good working condition. We also should always be considering growing our tool collection and even the areas that our space offers.
    Classes are very important, too. Offering a good selection of classes from beginner to advanced in all of our areas is crucial. This will keep new and established members coming back for years to come.
    I think Facebook is a great tool in our arsenal that I think we can work on utilizing more for getting the word out to new and established members about classes and volunteer opportunities as well as inspiring ideas. Yes, we already do some of this, but I would like to brainstorm and see it grow. It’s a huge platform and so common in most households.

How should we operate?

  1. Tell us one thing the Board did in the last 12 months that needs an undo. Be specific.
    I really don’t want to leave any areas blank, but on this one, I truly don’t have any input at this time. If you’re wondering where I stand on something the board has enacted in the past year (or even before that) feel free to ask. I am more than willing to let you know.

  2. Tell us one thing not done in the last 12 months by the Board that still needs done. Be specific.
    I feel strongly that a new building needs to be a top priority. We are of course, in the works on that, but it needs completed. If the building in question currently falls through, we need to prioritize our continued search. This doesn’t mean I want to neglect our current space, but our time in our current space is up in three years. I don’t want to see our makerspace fail because we weren’t proactive with enough time to make a sound logical decision. These things take time.

  3. How much Autonomy should Area Leads Have?
    I feel that there should be a baseline for all area leads so there is some sense of cohesion between the spaces, but the lead was elected because they are knowledgeable and capable in their area and each area is its own monster. With how vastly different our areas can be, I think trusting our leads and their assistants to make decisions is crucial. If a larger decision is happening, it should absolutely be brought up to members and the board before a decision is made, though.

  4. What experience do you have in grant-writing or fundraising?
    I was apart of a top 15 nationally competitive show waterski team for ten years that I learned about and watched the process of it becoming a 501©(3) organization before I moved away from Iowa. I regularly attended board and other meetings for that organization. During that time I helped brainstorm fundraising ideas and enact them. Their needs were a little different to ours here at MakeICT, but I am no stranger to the concept of fundraising.
    Grant-writing is not something I have experienced much of, though I do see its value for our organization.
    One thing I don’t see mentioned here is sponsorship. We worked a lot with sponsorship on my ski team, and I am curious to investigate if this is another way for us to bring in funds especially with the big aeronautical manufacturers we have in town!

  5. What are your ideas on promoting Volunteerism and a Community Mindset at MakeICT? (ie Scholarships, funded leadership conferences…)
    Our biggest disconnect with volunteering is getting the word out. I feel that we can work on this by expanding the number of platforms we announce volunteer opportunities on. Not everyone looks at this forum often enough, unfortunately. With that being said, a solid beginning step would be to figure out how to include it on our Facebook page. Facebook is a much more universally used platform and can catch a good number of people who don’t look on this forum often enough or even at all. As an added bonus, it shows our community that we are not only a family of makers, but we give back, we help each other, and we care about our space and our community.

Follow on

  1. Do you promise you can serve out your entire term until next June? Do you predict that you’ll be open to running for a second or third term so MakeICT has a continuous, stable board of directors?
    To the best of my knowledge, yes, I can serve out my entire term. As far as running again, I want to see how things go, but as it stands, I feel that I would be comfortable running again next year.

  2. Have you read our bylaws and standing rules?
    Yes, and if elected, I intend to do so again.

  3. What areas of the makerspace are you proficient/not proficient in?
    Proficient:
    Ceramics - I teach classes. There’s always room to grow, but I can tackle most anything I want in there.
    Woodshop - I grew up around a pretty expansive wood shop and have a decent sized one at home. My dad is the co-founder of a woodworking club in Iowa and I learned much of what I know from him.
    Textiles - I can get the job done in here, but I have mostly used it out of necessity and haven’t played around beyond that too much.
    Print Making - I fully understand the process and have even played around with using vinyl for a quick turn-around print! (In case you are wondering, it works great if there aren’t a lot of small details!)
    Fab Lab - I can and have used all of the tools in this area, except for the large printer, though i’m sure I could figure that out if I needed to.

    Some Experience:
    Metal Shop - Plasma Cutter, Hand tools, I have done some welding, but not at MakeICT yet.
    Jewelry Lab - I have made wire jewelry at home, and have used many of the tools we have available. I also have experience casting, polishing, and some other jewelry related things, but in a dental lab.
    Electronics - I do have some experience in this area. I know how to wire a light switches, fans, etc, and I have played a little with arduino, and soldering, but I am not what I would call proficient in this area yet.

  4. What are the best and worst aspects of your leadership and communication styles? What can you do to improve or mitigate your worst quality?
    I am not afraid to give an opinion, but also, I am open to listening to other’s opinions and not too proud to go with someone else’s idea if I realize it’s the best or most logical solution to an issue. In contrast, I am not afraid to defend my opinion with facts and logic. (This was cited as a reason for why one of the people who nominated me did so.)
    Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory. Sorry, guys. I promise it upsets me just as much if not more than it does you, because I have to live with myself every moment of the day! I do combat this by trying to remember to set reminders for myself, but admittedly I could do better at this by setting the reminder as soon as I find out about it.

  5. If MakeICT didn’t exist, what would you do with your time?
    I always say, “Makers gonna make!” I was a maker long before I was a member here, and I will continue to be a maker as long as I live. It’s just who I am. If I was closer to a showski team, I’d be apart of that as well, though.

  6. What steps would you take outside the Maker space to continue growth of the knowledge of our existence, so we’re not Wichita’s “best kept secret”?

    What we provide as an organization is incredible for our community. It encourages interest and ability in the trade industry. We just need to work on getting that out there even more. I want to look at reaching out to our local manufacturers and even the high schools to get kids and adults in and, you guessed it, MAKING!
    My making started at a young age, my parents are makers and the DIY type. I grew up around it and I am so passionate about the freedom that comes with being able to make something exactly the way you want it and being able to appreciate the effort that goes into it. I promote these values, and so does MakeICT which is what makes us such a great fit for one another! When I am around town and bumping into people, MakeICT comes up in conversation for me often. As I feel it should. Our members should and I feel do talk about MakeICT “in the wild” all of the time, but I urge those who don’t to begin doing so!

    As far as getting new members in and my ideas on that subject, I have mentioned a lot about how to get new members into our space. something to note, though, this is not because I value new members over existing. It is simply because I feel we do a pretty great job with many of the aspects concerning established members, and I feel a one of our best ways to keep our dues where they are but still continue to provide more tools and get a larger building that will provide more opportunities and definitely space is to get more like-minded people involved!

Thanks for sticking it out this far, this was a lengthy questionnaire and I had some lengthy answers. I just wanted to do it and you justice.

Happy Making!

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Yes! I’d really love to see more weird, quirky, off-the-wall, one-off workshops. The practical workshops are great, of course, and we’ll always need those for sure, but it seems like most of what we offer anymore is primarily equipment instruction. Let’s make paper beads, run across non-newtonian fluids, make space paintings, learn how to pick locks, construct carrot clarinets, do sleight-hand-magic, etc, etc, etc.

And alligators gonna alligate!

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Carrot clarinets sounds like a blast!! Teach it!

There have been a lot of ideas from the board and from the volunteer committee to increase the volunteer rate. Gamification was one. Required volunteering (as part of a tiered membership plan) was another. One idea was to just put a giant whiteboard on the wall with lists of things that needed attention. It’s kind of difficult with makeict because not everyone can fix the laser or troubleshoot a 3d printer, but I do believe everyone has something to offer. Do you have any other ideas for encouraging more volunteer involvement at makeict?

Hey Alysa! Just wanted to say I am really happy to see you running for the board. You’ve helped us out during some times when we were really stumped for ideas. You’re one of those members who steps in with CONSTRUCTIVE feedback and paths forward when we need a change. Thanks for all you’ve done at MakeICT!

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I am a huge supporter of the board and members working on getting our volunteering numbers up. With this being said, I don’t think there is one thing that’s going to fix the issues we have with the same people repeatedly volunteering and having a hard time getting new people to volunteer. Here are a few things I think we can work on right out of the gate, the first being something I touched on in my answers, but I’ll delve further here:

  1. Social Media- get the volunteering opportunities out there so people see them on a regular basis on as many platforms as we can. Then, thank and acknowledge volunteers regularly on the same platforms! Make it an every day thing for anyone who sees anyone doing anything from helping at a booth to cleaning the bathroom and everything in between to be acknowledged. This not only makes volunteers feel awesome and appreciated, but it also leads by example for others. It makes them see what people are up to and go, “cool! It never occured to me that the carpets get vacuumed, but, heh, duh. Now I feel like I should help out, too.” It also shows our viewers that we are a positive uplifting group, but we also encourage and help others within our metropolitan area. This doesn’t mean we have to write a novel every time, but a good mix is ideal. Everything from photos and all kinds of details like with the wheelchair to simple shout-outs.
  2. A place within our space to write needs down. Ideally it can be updated by anyone, but is something that maybe gets intentionally added to monthly at the beginning of the meeting as well. When an item gets done, DON’T ERASE IT! Just write your name next to it and when it gets updated monthly, these things can get written down and posted to social media. We would make it known that if you see the windows are dirty and decide to clean them, you can totally write it down even if it’s something you noticed and immediately fixed. It’s extra steps, but it can help move us toward a community that just sees an issue and fixes it, but it also let’s someone who broke their leg and can’t vacuum let other makers know that, hey, the space could use a good vacuuming.

There are so many other things we can try in addition to these things, but I think these are a couple of simple places to start.

The reason I feel strongly that things like this can work is because I was a person who didn’t check this forum often enough to catch volunteering opportunities (I didn’t even realize they were being posted here, initially) and honestly didn’t really know what I could do in the space, or if I was even allowed when I started. Getting the word out about what needs done, and having an actual list of things to do goes a long way. Even if on the list is something as simple as “wipe tables in the co-working space down” someone could see that and even have their kid who is bored while their parent is in the monthly meeting go do. Simply having it in people’s face puts these things on their mind and they are significantly more likely to do it. If you really don’t care for recognition, cool, you don’t have to record it, but you’re still more likely to pitch in just seeing a long list of stuff that people are doing in the space.

I can’t say I’m super fond of forcing every member to volunteer, but I am not completely opposed to considering ideas for incentivising volunteering. I prefer to get people to volunteer because they want to/feel like it’s just apart of being in our community, though.

If people want to reduce their monthly cost, teach a class, or we can look at fundraising opportunities as a way to “pay your way”. The ski team I was on allowed anyone to go get sponsors and offered a discount to their dues if they successfully did so. I support offering discounts for things like this more strongly because we are bringing in more money from the sponsor, so we aren’t losing out. This is a way to sustainably offer discounts to our members. We can also look at other types of fundraisers as a way to lower monthly dues for those who are interested. Often times the way clubs I have seen do this is the amount lowered in dues is relative to the amount raised (say, 5% or 10%) which encourages people to raise larger amounts. Then, people who pay their way with raising funds are acknowledged which encourages more people to do so!

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We’ve definitely got plans to add volunteer/job tracking to the kiosk. Wouldn’t it be great if any member could walk up to it, see something that needs done, and then mark it as finished afterwards? Then the kiosk can issue a neat report that tracks jobs, volunteers, and hours.

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@David Genius! It’s perfect!

Thank You, Kim! That means a lot to hear!

I so agree!

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