I have been participating in Dutch hackerspaces for a few years now. They’re amazing places where the hacker community gets together to share knowledge, socialize with like-minded technical and creative people, and work on independent and shared projects.
Around 2014 I discovered Bitlair, a hackerspace in my home town of Amersfoort. I quickly became a participant, and found there were many more hackerspaces spread throughout the Netherlands, which keep in touch closely and often organise events together.
A few years later I had moved to Eindhoven, and found there wasn’t anything nearby that I would call a hackerspace. Christel, a fellow bitlair participant who had moved to Eindhoven, shared that sentiment. At SHA2017, she discovered that we were far from alone, and there were many more people from the Eindhoven region interested in a local hackerspace. Christel made the decision to establish a new hackerspace, and I joined as a founding board member.
We started by holding regular meetings to bring together interested people. In locations ranging from a dark pub to one of our living rooms, we would meet and plan the space. A couple months later we had set up a foundation and started registering participants. Participants help support the space with monthly membership fees which go towards rent for a physical location and everything else necessary to support and stimulate the community. We wanted to start saving up quickly so that we could pay the deposit on a location once one had been found for rent.
After a bunch more meetings, we had finally secured a location to start our hackerspace. In October 2018 we moved into an old school building where we had our very own 50 m² classroom. Within a short time we had a number of desks and chairs, a large metal storage cabinet for supplies and project storage, a small kitchen to cook dinner together or grab a drink, electronics and woodworking tables and eventually quite a nice set of tools including a laser cutter and 3D printer. We installed an electronic door system to give participants 24/7 access to the space. The system has been developed by another Dutch hackerspace. We extended it to work with our electronic locks, and were happy to share our additions with the original project.
We had the privilege to get together at our first location for nearly a year before we had to move. Fortunately this provided a nice upgrade in the form of a 70 m² workshop closer to the city center. With the help of not only participants of Hackalot but also people from hackerspaces all over the country, we moved everything to the new location within a day. The electronic door system was set up before the night was over.
We have been at our second location for more than two years now, and have developed a lovely community of people who support, add to, and improve the space. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to start a new hackerspace and local community together with a close group of friends. It has been and continues to be an edifying experience, and I hope to support it for a long time to come.
In case you are interested in visiting Hackalot, feel free to stop by anytime we are open. You can see the live spacestate on our website.
If you don’t live in the area, have a look at the other Dutch hackerspaces.