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WasteNot Champion: Talent Maker City

Talent Maker City officially began as a nonprofit in December 2016. In less than two years, Programs Director Alli French and Executive Director Ryan Wilcoxson and their dynamic and dedicated board have developed their vision and birthed it into a thriving, growing, community-driven enterprise in what seems, (from the outside) two blinks and a nod. Through grants, partnerships and tremendous community support, it has coalesced to transcend a great idea into reality. Fresh this year, you can find Talent Maker City (TMC) in a renovated 3,700-square-foot corner workshop next to the Grotto in Talent.

TMC is Southern Oregon’s rendition of a movement that has found resonance across the country.

TMC was drawn to the movement’s capacity to bring creative economic opportunity to rural communities. Citizen engagement is a key component. TMC is redesigning and recreating new economic opportunities by reintroducing traditional arts and crafts, metal and woodworking, and integrating them with current technologies. TMC provides support for creative entrepreneurs by providing pathways and resources to produce and sell goods locally and on the web. The maker city concept is rooted in education. Talent Maker City’s core mission statement is: To operate an inclusive, nonprofit organization bringing environmentally responsible, sustainable economic growth to the region by providing the facilities and resources to serve Southern Oregon as a hub for technical innovation, creative entrepreneurship, and STEAM-oriented collaborative learning for curious minds of all ages.

To expand a little on part of its mission, STEAM stands for: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics. This is accomplished by providing opportunities to people of every age through participation in hands-on workshops that model independent thinking and self-reliance. TMC has created a workplace with resources to produce goods to cultivate skills, products and businesses that serve the community. When it’s working at full steam (pun intended) it’s a win-win-win with a sustainable local loop. A special focus for TMC is to serve young people, disadvantaged youth and traditionally underserved groups by creating a safe space to collaborate, grow and eventually build social capital, while exchanging ideas with a diverse representation from Southern Oregon. These sizable goals have been thoughtfully crafted to provide solutions to help meet some of the significant needs in our community.

TMC already has produced successful programs in Southern Oregon.

Samples of past, current and future offerings include: RISE=Raising Innovative Solar Engineers. TMC partners with True South Solar to offer a hands-on solar installation program. Last year, students powered a play station with electricity harvested from the sun.

Another program is with the Oregon Youth Authority and New Bridge High School in Grants Pass. The focus is adjudicated to people between 14 and 25 years old. TMC provides a special curricula that provides leadership training, skill building, job and career options.

TMC’s most popular workshop last year was an introduction to carpentry for women called Build(H)er Skills. It was taught at Ashland High School by John Weston, a veteran educator and woodworker.

There were also Do It Yourself Workshops on: home weatherization, rain barrel catchment and developing assistive devices for people with disabilities. A special post election upcycle class made useful items from plastic campaign signs.

You may be wondering how you can get involved with TMC. There are numerous opportunities available. You can: become a member, take or teach a class/workshop, help with a project, donate tools and make tax deductible donations.

In February there will be some exciting workshops: Bee A Part of Art-community created mosaic mural that will be installed at Talent City Hall, a DIY Skateboard Build for students and TMC is hosting teacher professional development trainings on technology. Look out for more programs open to everyone in March!

You can also attend an adult Maker Meet Up to exchange ideas and/or STEAM Pub Talk on a special topic and/or demonstration.

Contact info: Talentmakercity.org, 541-897-4477 and 304 East Main St. in Talent.

We are fortunate to have our very own maker city thanks to the vision and commitment of Alli, Ryan and it’s board of directors, who are; Stephanie Dolan, Tom Cline, Laura Quintero-Anton, Joe DiGiuseppe and Darby Ayers-Flood. Please consider how you’d like to participate in this dynamic and exciting venture.

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