We have started formally writing a core set of values that we will use to describe what it means to be a Maker in our community. It is possible that you or your own group may see how these values can be applied to your community as well. Our five core values consist of:
- Mateship & Integrity
- Safety & Risk Awareness
- Innovative Thinking
- Impassioned Action
- Diversity & Acceptance
Let's have a look at what these values mean if you are a Maker and member of our wonderful community at UWA.
Mateship & Integrity - As a student group of an Australian university, it is not surprising that we use the concept of mateship when describing part of what it means to be a Maker. Being a mate doesn't mean that you will automatically be everyone's friend - although, often you will find our group a place to make many new friends. Instead, it means that you look out for each other, no matter who they are, or where they come from. Being a mate means you treat each other with respect and dignity. Treat everyone like they are your mate, and ensure they act the same way. It is also important that we act with complete integrity, especially as members of the University. In everything we do, we are ambassadors of many STEAM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Technology) and more importantly to our specific case, the University of Western Australia. Whilst we believe it is everyone's right to learn and make, having access to the equipment and resources we do is a privilege, not a right.
Safety & Risk Aware - A point of some contention will be that we don't place safety first on the list of our values. Let us be very clear. This doesn't mean that safety comes second! Instead, we believe that if you are being a mate to your fellow maker, then you are going to have your interest and their interest in mind in everything you do from the start. It's also important to recognize that not everything we do will traditionally be called safe (although we can do things that are perceived as unsafe in safe ways!). You only need to have a look at the crazy projects like flame throwing guitar hero builds to see what this means. We also recognise that to be innovative, you occasionally need to take on the rare risk, and push a boundary every now and then to test some new ideas. It is important that when the need arises to undertake something with any level of risk though, you conduct your activities with every safety precaution available to you. We routinely use risk assessment forms to evaluate our activities. It is your responsibility to ensure you follow any and all implemented safety protocol, and that you are aware of when you will need to conduct your own informal and formal risk assessments. By abiding by this simple requirement, you will ensure that you are always a welcomed member of our community.
Innovative Thinking - To use a cliché, we want our makers to "think different" and be innovative. In fact we thrive on innovation. Without it, we are a group of grown up children playing with expensive toys. This however is where the magic comes from being a member of our group. Innovation is what happens when you are learning through play and exploration. When you combine existing ideas in new and novel ways. When you realise that you have the power to make a real difference to someone, whether through a new invention, process, or even a new product. Innovation comes when you combine Innovative Thinking + Action. To think like this, you must be prepared to think creatively, to be divergent, and most importantly, you must be prepared to learn through failure and still try again. This is how the impossible will become possible, and how science fiction will become science. We also recognise that to encourage this way of thinking in our members, we must expose them to a safe, open, flexible and inspiring environment to explore new skills and ideas in.
Impassioned Action - Without action, ideas remain just ideas. No matter how innovative they are. In many ways, our other values could be just as easily applied to "What makes a decent human being" as it can to "What makes a maker great." Action is what sets makers apart. This is the ability to bring an idea into reality, and to show it to others and inspire them to do the same. Often, this will require perseverance, dedication, and even leadership to see an idea through to being a reality. We have found that a shortcut to developing those skills though, is to simply be passionate about testing your idea and bringing it to life. Not everyone will have every skill needed to complete a project, but if you are passionate, you will be able to learn. A key concept that we want to impart to our members is learning "The Art of Doing" and being passionate whilst doing it - no matter what you are making.
Diversity & Acceptance - Our final core value is that of tolerance, of kindness, and that of valuing what is different than yourself. In fact, you must likely embrace what is different to fully embrace being a mate, thinking differently, and to finish a project. A mate looks out for everyone, no matter what their background. Different cultures and academic backgrounds will lead to new ideas being shared. And finally, it is unlikely you will have every skill needed to finish truly innovative projects on your own. By embracing the diversity of skills and knowledge within our community, you will be able to undertake projects you never imagined would be possible. It is also important to remember that everyone starts from a similar position of not knowing how to do things, or that others may have different ways of doing the same things. Help today's 10,000 people learn something "everyone knows," and be open to new ways of doing things yourself. You might just learn something new! With this in mind, it is no wonder we welcome aspiring inventors, creatives, developers hackers, tinkers and makers from across all disciplines. Whether you are studying arts, literature, science, engineering or business - stop by and signup today!
What do you think about our values? Do they fit the ideal of what it means to be a Maker? For our members, do you think this represents who we are, or we aspire to be? If you are reading this years after it was posted, is it still as relevant today as it was when first written?
Let us know on social media!