Göra: Medellín’s First Open Downtown Makerspace

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Medellín’s graffiti is notorious for transforming of urban spaces like Comuna 13 and Avenida Guayabal (by the zoo) and even lively bars like Sindominio. The graffiti artists in the city constantly outdo themselves with murals under bridges and through tunnels; a constant reminder of the overwhelming creativity in the city. It’s as if the capability of the citizens to create, innovate and explore creatively were reflected in the murals of Medellín.

If you’ve ever been to Ondas, you, like me, have probably dreamt of more places like it, full of amazing graffiti and a young, creative vibe.I, unfortunately, was unable to attend the Fama events that, during an afternoon of music and art, painted the walls of 20 Mission, Ondas to make them what they are now.

However, I am now freed of my FOMO (fear of missing out) because the hosts of the Fama event at Ondas opened their very own makerspace downtown and it is everything I imagined.

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The entrance of Göra, a space that is more than just a room full of equipment, where people mix, grow and create together. Photo by Göra

About Göra

Göra, “make” in Swedish, is a makerspace.

“A makerspace is a multipurpose workshop equipped with a variety of different tools and machines brought to life by a diverse community of makers. ” explained one of the co-founders, Thomas.

But it’s not just a workshop. It’s not simply a place. A makerspace is a community that really makes a space more than just a room full of equipment. People come with ideas, backgrounds in different fields, and they mix, they grow, they advance, they fail sometimes, and they succeed together.

The room, the art, the equipment, that’s not really the makerspace. It’s the people that use it that make it come alive.

“We want to make a positive difference in this world and make a living doing it.  We view göra as the platform to create a distinct culture among the people who wish to create the world them and their children are going to inhabit.  We want to support the people who want to take lives into their own hands.  We want to show people what we can accomplish when we pool our resources and work together.”

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Photo: Göra

Makin’ a Makerspace

The owners are both creators and artists themselves. Thomas told me about his fascination with the potential of 3D printing; how that curiosity didn’t just stay as daydreams and curious thinking but rather moved to him teaching himself to build a 3D printer by watching youtube videos and participating in online forums.  His curiosity led to a realization:
“This point in history is the first time the people have access to all the same knowledge that had traditionally been just for the elites.  Now we can can teach our selves how to build just about anything, the only thing we were still missing was the capital, that is the capacity to convert the knowledge into productive mechanisms.  The more I read about 3D printing the more I read about makerspaces, hackerspaces, and open source development.  After I tried and failed at starting a 3D printing business in Medellín, I knew I still wanted to work with 3D printers but didn’t want to be limited to only 3D printers either. The philosophy behind a makerspace is aligned with my values and beliefs.” Thomas explained.
After moving to Colombia and experiencing the cultural differences he also thought a lot about the potential that lies in culture exchange. “I believe a makerspace is a perfect platform to create our own mini-culture,” He said.
All of this fueled the curiosity, but, what about the actual space? Thomas and his business partner Fer met at 20 Mission. Fer had experience building a community at his university, starting an artist makerspace-type community called La Capilla at Universidad Nacional. Around that time, David and Mauricio also came into the picture and the four of them together worked together to build the first makerspace in Medellín.
 “Although its only Fer and I now, it was an effort made by many people to get Göra to where it is now.”
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“We want to make a positive difference in this world and make a living doing it. We view göra as the platform to create a distinct culture among the people who wish to create the world them and their children are going to inhabit. “

The FAMA Events

FAMA started when the whole project was still new, with a little space in Envigado, thanks to 20Mission. They were given creative liberty to paint as they wanted and they used the opportunity to get the word out.  They had all their friends over for a party, with DJ Dishes Delicious and made a day of it with some alcohol.
With Fer’s friends being artists, the cultural artistic crowd was on fire and they ended up with the iconic murals that have since linked  themselves into the Göra identity. Ever since, every space they’ve occupied has had that one requirement: they had to do it again.
Why murals? Well, Thomas says, in his super charming manner: “everyone in Göra loves art, like I love arepas de chocolo con quesito y lecherita.”
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Gora’s place on the street is noticeable, yet still traditional.

 Why Downtown?

When I asked Thomas about their curious location, next to iconic places like Las Torres de Bomboná, cultural hot-spots, and alternative nightclubs, he said:
Centro wasn’t actually our first choice.  The house we really wanted ended up getting sold and so we had to continue looking for something that was big enough and not ridiculously expensive.  Obviously, we also needed a central location in the city.  At first ,we were worried centro might be too dangerous, especially having a lot of expensive machinery, but as we began to search on foot we realized it was the perfect place.  Central, full of art, of real people living real lives, of workshops, universities and just grungy enough to keep people open minded.”

Gora’s Equipment & Events

 At this moment Gora’s equipped with:
  • 3D printer
  • Laser cutter
  • Paint Cavern
  • Air compresor
  • Sewing Machine
  • Carpentry tools
  • Music Room
  • Classroom
  • Arduino and Raspberry Pi
  • Soldering Iron
 They host events like:
  • electronics/ robotics workshops
  • art and culture, expositions
  • entrepreneur networking and start-up weekends
  • clubs and meetups (club de dibujo, movie night, club de arduino etc.)
  • Parties/fiestas
  • Yoga
  • Classes and workshops
 Both Thomas and Fernando are there to give a helping hand to people on their projects, to guide when guidance is necessary.
Fer has artistic expertise that is applicable to nearly every discipline.  Thomas has experience with the 3D printers but has a passion for stimulating rowth in the community, always bringing in new people and therefore new knowledge. He says that being an international duo sets the precedent for a space open to the mix of ideas and cultures.

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A late night at Göra doesn’t feel like a work night.

Membership Rates and Hours

  • day – 8,000 COP (2.70)
  • week – 50 mil ($17)
    • one free training session
    •  (a basic intro class to use a machine or tool) 15 minutes on the laser cutter
    • 15 minutes on the laser cutter
  • month – 100,000 COP ($34)
    • one free training session
    • 60 minutes on the laser cutter
  • Monthly group membership (3 or 4 people)
    • 250,000 COP($85)
    • Same benefits as a monthly membership
  • Monthly Team membership
    • 450,000 COP ($153)
    • 5 or 6 people
    • same benefits as a monthly membership
  • Monthly Business membership
    • 600,000 COP ($204)
    • 7 – 10 people
    • same benefits as a monthly membership
 They work Monday- Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., but are flexible to close later or open earlier, if their coworkers need.

 Contact Göra

Instagram: @gora_makerspace
twitter: @goraspace
Phone: (034) 494 6245
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