Mohawk Valley Mini Maker Faire loves Utica because of the impressive displays of community support shown through events like last night’s I Heart Utica Day hosted by Made In Utica and MVCC Cultural Series.
We thought we’d just stop by and check it out but the Pulse of Utica Panel discussion, moderated by Sam Famolaro of the Uticast podcast, drew us in. The contributing panelists included Chris Sunderlin of Midtown Utica Community Center, Lynne Mishalanie of Utica Monday Night, Ryan Miller of thINCubator and Emily Leo of Oneida Square Project. Each panelist had a really interesting story of their connection to the area with diverse perspective. It was a gritty yet inspiring discussion about where we’ve been, where we’re headed, and what we could be with the right outlook. This is how real change happens in a community.
There’s an underlying current of young people who have explored their options elsewhere, returning home with fresh ideas and renewed appreciation for the charms and possibilities that this area has to offer.
A new generation of community change-makers is present, taking an active role in collaborating to make this area a home we can really celebrate. It can be great for us here, but we have to MAKE it ourselves. It’s an exciting time; there’s momentum you can really feel. We have an expanding group of unique personalities taking initiative with character and style.
One of the keys to growth is in cultivating the relationship between our community and its universities. An area strength is that we have these amazing centers for learning. Our local universities bring people to the area, they reinforce a culture of learning and growth, help support our economy, and provide larger networks of opportunity and resources.
We’ve all heard the buzz about the expansion of SUNY Polytechnic and Governor Cuomo’s Nano Utica initiative. This expansion is truly great news for the area, a transformative plan that will position the area with importance to the state as well as a national leader in the newest technological exploration. The benefits of this plan will take time – it’s a beacon of hope for the community no doubt, but it is an opportunity, not a gift.
We have to find ways to integrate the strength of our diversities and resources toward collective community benefit. We see the Mohawk Valley Mini Maker Faire as one of these great opportunities. The first annual event has the goal of cultivating a sustainable and inclusive maker culture going forward. We’re thinking of it as a celebration of the ingenuity and innovation we’ve all been talking about. The Mini Maker Faire is a place for it to all come together, a kind of contemporary Renaissance showcase of our renewed community spirit. This is not only a place for makers, artists, and creatives to exhibit; it’s an interactive learning event, connecting ideas and pushing them to take the next step.
The overarching take away theme from the I ❤ Utica Day event is that small-scale change can lead to large-scale impact. That is what we want to get out there about the Mohawk Valley Mini Maker Faire. Based on the ethos of the worldwide Maker Movement, licensed and guided by Maker Faire and Maker Media, the Mohawk Valley Mini Maker Faire is a reflection of our community striving to improve our circumstance here and contribute to a greater mission. Maker Faire, which originated in large cities like Bay Area and NYC, encourages communities to host independently produced celebrations of local maker culture.
The Mohawk Valley has what it takes. We have a cool culture of people who are involved. We have people willing to take a step beyond their professions, their roles in local government, their positions as students and professors to improve the quality of experience for all who want to make this area a dynamic place to call home.
Think of what we can do if we really follow through on what we’re saying. If we pool our connections, if we contribute to each other’s cause, if we bring out everyone we know and encourage others to show us what they’ve got, we will drive change in a really positive way. This area was founded on innovative spirit and we never lost our spark. Keep blowing on the embers and we’ll ignite a powerful blaze. (There will be pyrotechnics at MVMMF!) Let’ make something together.
This is the first annual celebration of spirit and sustainable change for the future of our great community. Be a part of the movement, the Mohawk Valley Mini Maker Faire, Saturday, April 16th 2016 at SUNY Polytechnic. It’s our community, Make It.