[Source: Sean Sweat, PhxDowntowner]
You may or may not have heard of Gangplank. It’s “a group of connected individuals and small businesses [in downtown Chandler] creating an economy of innovation and creativity in the Valley [that] envisions a new economic engine comprised of collaboration and community.” The small businesses that operate out of Gangplank are called “anchors”. I won’t claim to be an expert on the group but, from what I do know, they are a hotbed for innovation, community development, and civic engagement. Exactly what downtown Phoenix needs more of.
And I think we have a community that can be a wonderful home for such a thing. So here’s the opportunity: One of Gangplank’s anchors, HeatSync Labs, is looking for a new home due to growth. Myself and a few others have recently been trying to bring them here to downtown Phoenix.
HeatSync Labs is a non-profit hackerspace – a coworking facility that makes workspace, tools, equipment, and other resources available while creating a community of collaboration and learning-by-doing. They work with software, electronics, and industrial equipment. They also organize educational technology events and assist schools in science & engineering education. This past Friday they just got a big plug from an adorable Ignite 9 speaker.
HeatSync Labs is the kind of place that births entrepreneurs and innovators. These guys create buzz, energy, and would add a brand new dimension to downtown Phoenix. These kinds of people do things and affect change in ways that don’t always fit Corporate America’s myopic ROI requirements. These are the people we need downtown.
- Nearspace balloon
- Wearable computing
- Solar Concentrator
- 3D printing & scanning
- Open source night vision
- Tesla Coil
- Massive Trebuchet
- “Junkyard” Battle Bots
- and more!
The more I learn about these guys, the more I like them.
They want to be along the light rail, and they want to be somewhere that can charge their creative batteries; a place with life and activities. Mesa and Tempe are pursuing them – and we have to as well. If downtown Phoenix is going to matter in 10 years, we have to fight for innovators and community contributors like HeatSync Labs.
There are dozens of reasons why they would improve our downtown, but let me list out just a few:
- We have lots of lawyers, students, bureaucrats, designers, and retail/restaurants, but no techies.
- They generally use their space from 6pm-Midnight, which is when we need more people downtown.
- They would contribute to downtown activities, community development, and hold events that would bring more people downtown.
- It would be known that one of the best hands-on science education partners is based in Downtown Phoenix. The collaborative opportunities with the Arizona Science Centeralone are intriguing.
- As they grow, it would become known that Downtown Phoenix has Arizona’s premiere hackerspace (as opposed to Tempe or Mesa).
So them being here would help us, the residents, small business owners, and general believers of downtown. They would bring the exact type of energy, intellectualism, ambition, and vision that our downtown needs, and assimilating them into our community will benefit us all.
We’ve found them a great space in downtown’s warehouse district which currently houses other small businesses, serves their very specific equipment needs, and provides them with a wealth of value-added industrial resources and event space opportunities. It’s the best possible location for both their current and future needs — the kind of space that will fuel their imaginations and help them grow as innovators. And we want that growth in Downtown Phoenix.
But there’s a but. There’s always a but.
The downtown space, including the build-out, is slightly above their budget. The Tempe and Mesa governments are in conversations with the non-profit HeatSync Labs, working to find them grants and funds to relocate to their cities. We must do the same. We need to write City Hall and encourage them to fight for Phoenix.
But in the absence of small business support from City Hall, we need to pull together as a community and make this happen. Their move to downtown Phoenix would be a very visible move that would benefit us all in the long-run. My goal is for Downtowners to raise $2,000 to make it possible for them to move here and give them an incentive to choose us over Tempe or Mesa. If you will contribute something, even just $10, then please use the button below to email me your name and pledged amount [tax-deductible]. I will present the total pledges to their relocation committee in two weeks.
To get things started, I hereby pledge $100. Please post any questions/comments below.
(Note that all HeatSync pictures came from their Flickr account.)
Since its recent opening, CityScape has brought many businesses to Downtown Phoenix, and about a month ago, a new independent shop found its home in the mixed-use facility.
Workbench is a store where woodworkers, architects, metalworkers, graphic designers and other local artists collaborate to produce functional art, according to CityScape.
The store sells products ranging from dining room tables and chairs, to wall art and plant arrangements, and will also custom design one-of-a-kind pieces for customers seeking specific products.
Designer and woodworker Lew Gallo, who previously co-owned Haus Modern Living, a local home furnishings and décor boutique that closed in January, is the creator of Workbench.
“He found people that had a like-minded kind of vision for design and just rounded us up; we were all equally motivated, so we just jumped in and did it,” says architect and Phoenix native Christoph Kaiser.
Kaiser, who is the co-owner and co-founder of the Phoenix-based architecture firm Plus Minus Studio along with fellow Workbench contributor Hayes McNeil, said he joined the Workbench team as a way to give his products more exposure, but also because it’s just a great thing to be a part of.
“We’re pulling multiple people together under one roof, and it’s kind of exciting to do that anyway, just as a project,” he explains.
Kaiser mentions that there are few places people in the Valley can go to find handmade furniture, and many of the stores that were similar to Workbench have closed recently. But CityScape was eager to bring in more tenants, and thus made it an attractive place to open the shop.
In addition to Workbench’s unique, handmade and eco-friendly products, Kaiser adds that buying from local retailers is better for the state’s economy.
“These days, there’s just so much mass-produced stuff,” Kaiser continues. “There’s something to be said about having a story behind an object and having something that has a little bit more of the human touch.”
Many of these handmade products are built from reclaimed materials, which Kaiser says are easy to find in the designer community because architects, woodworkers and artists tend to have “piles of junk” in their sheds, workshops and back yards.
“If there’s something out there that can be used in [some] way, then why kill another tree or have something else produced?” Kaiser asks.
Workbench is located at 50 W. Jefferson St. in CityScape. Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Free food • Live music • Fun for kids • Unique shopping • Live Music
Now in its 6th year, the Certified Local Fall Festival celebrates Arizona’s locally owned businesses with a bang this November!
This family-friendly street festival drew over 5,000 attendees last year with over 60 members participating. We hope you’ll count yourself as one of the attendees for this year’s festival!
Entertainment is provided by some of Arizona’s best musicians and bands. Many booths will also have fun activities!
Local breweries and vineyards provide drinks in the Beer & Wine Garden; many local vendors will also be offering non-alcoholic drinks
A raffle and silent auction raise funds for Local First and the first 500 attendees receive gift bags!
A bouncing castle will keep the young ones entertained while kids of all ages can scale the rock climbing wall.
Where? Duck and Decanter 1651 E Camelback, Phoenix 85016 (map)
When: Saturday, Nov. 13th, 10 am – 4 pm
Contact: (602) 274-5429 • duckanddecanter.com