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Maker City gets grant for workshops

AARP has awarded Talent Maker City nearly $5,000 from its Community Challenge grant program to fund intergenerational, pollinator-themed workshops.

Grants totaling $1.6 million were awarded to 159 “quick action” projects across the country.

“We are thrilled to be a partner with them and to extend our mission of access to hands-on creation and community building,” said Ryan Wilcoxson, Talent Maker City executive director. The nonprofit operates a maker space in downtown Talent that offers workshops, as well as equipment and space for creation and fabrication.

Program goals will target inclusion of older adults and support for the proliferation of and interest in pollinator gardens across the city. Talent is a recognized Bee City USA. It was also designated in April as a member of the AARP Age Friendly Community program that helps cities achieve livability for older residents.

Workshops will be held with pollinator themes in such media as ceramics, wood and screen prints. Reclaimed wood might be used to build pollinator houses. Pollinator-themed stepping stones or water dishes for the creatures could be made of ceramics. Screen prints could be applied to clothing, signage or artworks.

“We’ll welcome young and old to take (the workshops). There’s a lot of benefit community-wise, and a lot of involvement for the kids,” said Wilcoxson. Workshops will be offered during fall and winter.

Grant funding will cover curriculum development, payment for equipment that will be used for the workshops and in other Maker City activities, part of instructor salaries and to help reduce participants costs, said Wilcoxson.

Pollinator workshops have been a popular offering for Talent Maker City. All of the five or six held so far have sold out, said Wilcoxson. He said the workshops will include instruction and building periods, with each offered two or three times and lasting up to three hours apiece.

“We want to keep the costs down and make it as accessible as possible,” said Wilcoxson. Workshop prices will probably range between $20 and $50 depending on materials required for the media involved. The curriculum for each workshop is still under development. Instructors to teach are under consideration, but none have been confirmed. They will all be experts in their fields, said Wilcoxson.

Gerlinde Smith of the Talent Garden Club will likely open each session with a 20-minute talk about local pollinators and projects, touching on why mason bees like to live in tubes and what makes an appropriate house for the creatures, said Wilcoxson. Smith has spoken to previous workshops and has been a driving force in the pollinator gardens installed near city buildings.

Equipment the grant will help buy include a conveyor-belt dryer for screen printing and a slab roller for ceramics. They are pieces the group has targeted for acquisition as it builds a tool lineup.

“Once we have people who have passed through those workshops or have products to show, we will hold an open house to engage people to use them and to generate interest,” said Wilcoxson. “It will be kind of an open house show and tell.”

Wilcoxson and Talent Maker City board member Stephanie Dolan, a Talent city councilor, wrote the grant that got the award. Dolan was also involved in the process of getting Talent designated as an age-friendly city. When AARP Oregon Community Engagement Director Bandana Shrestha visited the city late last year to explain the program, Dolan gave her a tour of Talent Maker City.

“When she toured the maker space, she started brainstorming with Ryan ... about possible connections, about how to make it more community involved,” Dolan said. Later Shrestha made Talent Maker City aware of the grant opportunity.

“AARP Community Challenge Grants fund projects that can inspire change in areas such as transportation, open space, housing, smart cities and more,” said AARP Oregon Director Ruby Haughton-Pitts. “It’s exciting to see the creative way cities and nonprofits can use some seed money to enliven their communities.”

Other grant winners were the city of Salem’s Center 50+ and the Asian-Pacific American Network of Oregon. Nationwide nearly 1,700 grant applications were received from nonprofits and government entities. The program is in its third year.

Talent Maker City’s goal is to be a resource for technical innovation, entrepreneurship and collaborative learning. It formed in December 2016. A maker space was set up last year, and the organization has added equipment to assist entrepreneurs and inventors. More information can be found at talentmakercity.org.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gamils.com.

Photo courtesy cityoftalent.org