Duncan Lees

Editor’s Note: Today’s post comes from Duncan Lees, a member of the class of 2012 at Venture Academy, one of several schools that use the Makerspace at the DaVinci Center of the San Joaquin County Office of Education in Stockton, CA. Dale Dougherty read Duncan’s piece at a convening we held at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland on Friday, March 1st.

I think I was always a maker at heart. I used to make all kinds of swings out of rope and whatever else was lying around on the house or garage. I was a sophomore when my parents agreed to take me to my first Maker Faire. We spent the entire day looking at every booth, and every display and as many of the events as we could get to. I thought it was so cool the way that everyone had all these different ideas that they were working on.

We all came home full of ideas of things we could do at home, and I spent the summer working on kits we bought at the Faire, like the TV-B-Gone and following simple Instructables on the web. By the time I went back to school in the fall I was still very interested in making, hacking, and designing, and more interested in computers than ever, and realized that there were a lot of more opportunities at school to pursue those interests so I started hanging around those places more and more.

Venture allowed me time and access to materials and a place to work, like the PDC, and people that I could learn other skills from, which is really the most powerful way that Making changed my life because it helped me to be less shy and seek out others with the same interests. As a result, I made great new friends, met the classmate that became my best friend, and associated with some really great mentors that I’m still in touch with today.

Before I thought being a Maker meant being someone who tinkered alone in a garage, but now I see that being a Maker is about being a collaborator, a student, a teacher, and a craftsman in just about every aspect of my life, from the car I drive to the food I eat to the kind of environment I create and choose to live in everyday

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