Noisebridge Progress

I mentioned back in January that there was a hacking space in formation in the Bay Area. This is Noisebridge. I wanted to give an update on what’s been going on with it.

The group has continued to meet fairly often over the last six months. Generally, there have been weekly meetings every Tuesday night in San Francisco. For much of the last month, we’ve been meeting at People’s Cafe, over in Berkeley, due to meeting organizers being over in the East Bay (which has made me happy since I live there as well). We still do not have a space or solid prospects for a space. One of the common tasks during the meetings is to go over Craigslist ads for spaces or discuss other potential spaces that people know about. One of the problems here is that in order to get a space in San Francisco, one must be able to pay at least $2,000 a month. With the interests of the group in electronics, robotics, etc., we also need a space that will allow us to work on projects as well as have groups of people come and go. In order to be able to gather money from people, we have to incorporate…

Basically, we’ve been bogged down, to a certain degree, by writing legal bylaws and the process of incorporation in order to get a bank account and set everything up for people to put money into the group. In a lot of ways, it probably would have been easier if five or so people in the group who work in the tech industry had just decided to get together and rent a space. It would be less official but we’d have one to work in… Instead, we’re going the legal non-profit route, which takes a lot of time. We did decide on a set of board members and officers for the group and near final bylaws are undergoing a review by a lawyer right now. Once these are cleared, we’ll file the paperwork and should be incorporated a few weeks later.

For my own part, I’m pretty skeptical about us finding a space in San Francisco within any kind of budget. As many people know, space is phenomenally expensive there and mixed-use spaces have been taken over as lofts or turned into condos over the years. You can get space much more cheaply (a third the price) in the East Bay, such as in Oakland, but many of the group are committed to this being a San Francisco organization more than a general Bay Area one. This is true even though at least four or five of the regularly attending members live in Oakland or Berkeley. This strikes me as a bit shortsighted for the group but you can’t force a collective to do anything… :-)

Members of Noisebridge will be attending The Last HOPE in two weeks. The Last HOPE is a hacker convention occurring in New York City and there is going to be a gathering of members of various hacker spaces there during the event. I’m not going to attend the event but members will be showing off some of the projects that they’ve been working on (such as the remote controlled blimp) during the event and talking to other groups about their spaces.

I’m hoping by the end of the year that Noisebridge will be incorporated and have found a space for people to meet in and work on projects together. I’m told that some members have been working on this for a couple of years so I shouldn’t be frustrated by the slow pace of things.