A Message About Racial Disparity at MakeHaven and What We Can Do

MakeHaven's reason for existence is to empower people through access to tools and learning, thereby affording them opportunities that otherwise would not be available. We are committed to having a membership that reflects all of the communities MakeHaven serves; one of the guiding principles of the organization is: “Our makerspace community is stronger when everyone is meaningfully involved and represented”. We believe that there is a strong alignment between MakeHaven’s organizational aspirations and the current movement calling for opportunity to be more fairly distributed.  However, at present the opportunities that MakeHaven offers are not evenly enjoyed. A proportional representation of the area we serve would result in a membership that is 30% black -- the actual number is 10%. 


The cause of this disparity is surely a complex mix of large social structures and our own habits. To counteract this tendency and build an organization that represents our value of true inclusion we must intentionally and proactively undertake actions that are anti-racist.


Staff and the Board of Directors have a responsibility to take a leadership role in this work; all members also have an important role. A first step is identifying what drives the disparity at MakeHaven. To this end we ask staff, volunteers and members to seek a better understanding of and reflect on where barriers exist. Barriers include but are not limited to:

  • Socialized barriers. - MakeHaven’s top recruiting method is referrals from friends. If personal networks are not diverse, our recruiting will not be evenly distributed.

  • Transportation barriers - Lack of access to reliable transportation inhibits utilization of the space and procurement of large materials.  

  • Presentation barriers - How the space appears, in member demographic composition and our messaging may not feel equally welcoming to all.

  • Financial barriers - Prosperity is not fairly distributed. The cost of memberships is a greater burden to those with lower incomes.

  • Awareness barriers - Tools and marketing strategies currently employed may not be the most effective in reaching people in predominantly black neighborhoods.

Understanding the existence of these barriers we ask our board, staff, committees and individual members to identify what tangible actions we can take to remove barriers and to welcome those who have been under-represented. 


If you feel called to help, please consider how you can personally deconstruct barriers with these actions:

  • Propose, design and lead an activity which advances cross-cultural connections.

  • Increase awareness of the MakeHaven scholarship program in communities where economic distress prevents access.

  • Reach out to your connections in communities of color, and make a personal invitation.

  • Engage with Culture of Inclusion activities and resources being compiled by Nation of Makers (national association of makerspaces).

  • Share action steps you’ve taken and commitments you’ve made with our community so we can continue to support each other.


There is no single solution to racial and economic injustice and we know that this work requires a long-term commitment from the board, staff, members and the broader community. We invite you to join us in working to recognize and disrupt oppressive systems in order to build a more just and equitable community.  


We welcome your feedback as we learn together.


John R. Logan

MakeHaven, Executive Director