Community Conversations at Artisan’s Asylum: Community Service & Impact

DATE:  June 3, 2021     CATEGORIES:  Blog, Community, Events, Friends of Artisans, News, Outreach, Volunteering

As we all know, at the start of 2022, Artisans’ Asylum will open a 52,500 SF studio and fabrication space in Allston-Brighton. As we transition from our current Somerville location to Allston, we’ve been connecting with our local community through a series of virtual community conversations.

The theme of our May 27 conversation was service; specifically, we wanted to learn ways our community and our platform could be of greatest service to the Allston-Brighton community. There were at least three ways we were interpreting this question:

  1. What initiatives undertaken within the community, undertaken by various organizations, could we help to advance?
  2. What citizen-led initiatives – those led by neighbors and their networks – could we support and perhaps augment?
  3. What might be some “blank spots” or areas where Artisan’s Asylum members might get directly involved and spearhead?

What we heard were nearly half a dozen broad themes to pay attention to. They are (in no order of priority):

  • COMMUNITY CROSS-POLLINATION: When people share their interests with one another, ideas are nurtured and grow into innovations. Find ways for Artisan’s Asylum to help Allston Brighton develop public spaces that engage people with different passions.  We want to grow innovation across our community with spontaneous and welcoming gathering locations! 
  • CITIZEN SCIENCE: There are opportunities to implement research-informed programming to learn more about the health of our local environment and ways to promote positive change through data collection, interpretation and presentation. Folks were excited to investigate the intersection of science and community service. Protecting bird migration locations, promoting green energy projects, implementing programs like “Precious Plastics”, and partnering with groups like the Charles River Conservancy were some of the ideas folks had regarding community-improvement through science!
  • WORK WITH KIDDOS: Sometimes, the best way to a parent’s heart is through exciting and enriching programming for their kids! We’re excited to help young learners find new passions in the world of creativity and fabrication. Through meaningful partnerships with Allston Brighton schools, we help kids learn skills that can flourish into hobbies, career paths, and a craving for lifelong learning. The world of fabrication has lots of opportunity for youth courses, from developing new First Robotics Competition teams to laser cutting hand-drawn signs to beautify the classroom. 
  • MEET FOLKS WHERE THEY’RE AT: If we want to engage with the whole Allston Brighton community, we can’t expect everyone to come to the makerspace or meet us on Zoom. We need to hit the streets and meet folks where they’re at! Let’s use this momentum to engage with people at public spaces, meetings, and events. We’ll create an inventory of social spaces where we can effectively chat with community members and learn more about their priorities and interests. Through these constantly evolving and expanding conversations, we’ll find more and more areas where the Asylum can contribute. 
  • LISTENING: One of the biggest takeaways we’ve gathered from our most recent community conversations is to listen. If we want our future programming and partnerships to be a hit, we need to be responsive to the desires of our community. We don’t have all the answers, but we’ve got lots of questions and we’re always happy to hear suggestions!

Have feedback you’d like to share on the topic of community service through fabrication, innovation and entrepreneurship? Drop Elisha Rennert, Outreach Fellow, a line on