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If you haven’t been to Prototype PGH on Melwood in North Oakland, you’re missing out on one of the city’s most incredible resources for makers. Nestled in toward the back of the Blumcraft building, in a room lit by enormous windows, Erin Oldynski and Louise Larson have created a feminist makerspace—a particularly wonderful ecosystem of collaboration, curiosity, and community.

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Prototype’s sliding range of (outrageously reasonable) membership fees are based on income, and give members access to the Blumcraft co-working space, along with all the tools and equipment housed there. From 3D printers to vinyl cutters to band saws, the list of available equipment is extensive and diverse, and it continues to grow.

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In addition to all that, members can attend—or teach, if it’s in their wheelhouse—any of the space’s donation-based workshops. These are open to the community at large and the offerings are constantly evolving based on need and interest. In the two years since its opening, Prototype has hosted a wide variety of unique classes and learning opportunities, including:

  • Change Your Oil, Check Your Fluids: Learn how to do an oil change and understand your car’s fluids and filters.
  • Bookbinding 101: Make your own journal and learn some basic bookbinding stitches.
  • Laser Engraving with BoXZY: Learn how to use this hi-tech machine’s laser engraving function.

While the terms “makerspace” and “incubator” have been buzzing around Pittsburgh for a few years, Prototype is decidedly different than anything else on your radar. This is a place where makers and artists of all stripes are encouraged to “make things, fail quickly, and find the support to start all over again.” There’s plenty of room for testing new equipment, learning different skills, and gaining fresh perspectives.

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And now, thanks in part to a Google grant, Prototype is launching a new incubator project to support local female entrepreneurs. For $75 per month, incubator protobabes can use the co-working space 24/7, attend specialized leadership seminars, receive business mentorship and networking opportunities, and more. Applications are due October 15th, so spread the word to all your badass female friends.

To learn more about Prototype and all they do, swing by one of their monthly open houses. They’re held on the second Saturday of every month (the next one is on October 20th, before you ask!) from 2-4PM.

 

Tess Wilson

Tess Wilson is a public librarian who loves talking loudly about data literacy and online privacy. Beyond her library work, she is an arts educator and an advocate for mentorship. She's a collector of many things, from small rocks to big books.

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