Bringing a Galaxy of Experiences to the Colorado Front Range
A grass-roots organization is working across the Colorado Front Range to create the coolest science and tech center in the region – the Science Galaxy Museum. The group started small but has been gaining steam (…pun intended). The team consists of scientists, educators, philanthropists and other community members who come from a wide variety of backgrounds – all of whom care about a common theme, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).
Why does the Front Range need a science center?
In a time when our region lacks a sufficiently educated workforce to fill our rapidly expanding technology sector, Science Galaxy will empower a new generation of science and technology innovators. The science center’s focus of creating opportunities for people of all ages to explore open-ended activities covering a broad range of STEAM topics is shown to boost achievement in STEAM-related careers.
What is the vision for Science Galaxy?
Science Galaxy is a collaborative center that fosters educational partnerships with area schools, research institutions, tech
nology businesses, and existing non-profit science education groups. The founding committee envisions Science Galaxy as a community resource where everyone can explore science and innovation in an interactive way. Think of it as a destination for interactive science experiences.
What sets Science Galaxy apart?
Just look around you. Colorado is an amazing region, and Boulder County specifically is full of accomplished scientists, techies, and entrepreneurs. Science Galaxy is creating a place to showcase our area’s achievements and encourage curiosity for the world around us.
Who is Science Galaxy for?
In short…everyone! The team wants to encourage not just students, but all visitors to open their minds to the possibilities. In fact, core to the Center’s mission will be outreach to encourage people of all backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, etc. to explore what STEAM has to offer. Broad access is essential to feeding curious minds.
Will it ever really happen?
The team is really excited about the overwhelming positive response they’ve received from the community. We recently released an online survey (still in progress, you can respond here), and the clear message is that the region will welcome a science center with open arms!
“The process of a “start-up” museum is an amazing learning experience. Every community member we meet with teaches us something new and helps us move this monumental project forward, which is extremely rewarding,” commented Kristin Lawrence, one of the leaders of the Science Galaxy effort.
What’s the next step?
The team is asking for help to build a new Science Center here in Boulder County. “It’s important to us,” said, Lawrence, “that this center is built with the greater community at the center of the design. To that end, we are actively seeking input through a variety of tools, including the online survey.”
The team is also looking for appropriate property, talking with local businesses and practitioners to learn more about what should be included in an experiential museum, and seeking funding to support construction and staffing for the effort.
People who complete the survey can elect to be entered into a drawing to win gift cards to local shops or a brand new Spark Sphero. You can also let the Science Galaxy team know that you’re interested in helping when you complete the survey.
To take the survey, click the link below or copy and paste it into a Web browser.
To learn more about Science Galaxy: www.sciencegalaxy.org
What sparks your curious side?
Robotics? The mysteries of the universe? Science and creativity in action? You can find something for all curious folks of all ages at CuriosityStream.com – the world’s first and best spot to find engaging and entertaining programs to watch on your schedule, totally commercial-free.
CuriosityStream offers over 1,300 programs – more than 500 hours – of quality, nonfiction documentary-tyle shows that you can watch on any of your connected devices… from your smart phone to your tablet and TV. We have streaming apps across Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV as well as Android and iOS. And you can take CuriosityStream wherever you go… the service is global, in 196 countries worldwide.
Are you curious about a deep sea adventure?
Travel along as scientists explore the unknown in Deep Ocean: The Lost World of the Pacific. And continue your own exploration of the oceans with world renown marine biologist Dr. Sylvia Earle in The Health of our Oceans.
Interested in robotics?
Check out CuriosityStream’s comprehensive coverage of the DARPA Robotics Challenge, as teams from around the world compete in the biggest robotic showdown on the planet.
For younger curious minds – join the team from Quarx, three teenage pranksters who challenge the laws of physics with their superpowers, putting an entirely new spin on science education. Check out what happens if your pet black hole ends up eating the entire world!
There’s also the wild adventures of Baron Munchhausen, who takes a quirky look at the greatest inventors in history. Mind Blowing Breakthroughs puts the Baron right in the middle of those flashes of genius that changed the course of humankind…from Leonardo da Vinci to the Wright Brothers.
And coming soon: an exclusive production – Big Picture Earth. Take a journey with CuriosityStream to some of the world’s most spectacular locations. See Stonehenge, the Acropolis, New York’s Central Park, the Gateway Canyon of Colorado and more in ultra high definition 4K… visuals so stunning, you’ll be inspired to learn more about the human role on our planet.
For friends of Maker Bolder and visitors to the STEAM Fest this year, check out all that and much, much more on CuriosityStream with a complimentary 60-day trial subscription. Visit CuriosityStream Signup and use the code: STEAM.
Space – The Perfect Place for a Bedtime Story!
Story Time from Space was contributed by Dr. Jeffrey Bennett. Learn more about Dr. Bennet at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest.
What you cannot imagine, you cannot do.
— Astronaut Alvin Drew (STS-118, STS-133)
How many people are living in space right now? I’ve found that since the end of the Space Shuttle program, most Americans think the answer is zero. But it’s not. There are generally 6 people living aboard the International Space Station, including Americans, Russians, and usually at least one crew member from another nation. All the astronauts currently get rides to and from the station on Russian rockets, but it’s still an international outpost. There’s lots of great science going on there, involving not only professional scientists but tens of thousands of students who have participated in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. And now, there’s another way for kids, parents, and teachers to be a part of the human adventure of space exploration: Story Time From Space.
Story Time From Space is a program designed to combine literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. The basic program plan is to send children’s books and related science demonstrations up to the International Space Station, where astronauts video themselves reading the books and conducting the demos. The edited videos are then posted on the web, along with suggested activities (for kids, teachers, and families) and curriculum materials that can be used in the classroom. Thousands of teachers have already signed on to make use of the Story Time From Space program, and because it is freely available on the web, it has the potential to reach tens of millions of children around the world.
I have the good fortune of being involved with the Story Time From Space program, thanks to the fact that program founders Patricia Tribe (a long-time director of education at Space Center Houston) and astronaut Alvin Drew chose my first five children’s books as the first set to send to the International Space Station. The books launched in January, 2014 and continue to orbit over head every 90 minutes, at a speed of some 17,000 miles per hour – which means they’ve now logged almost 300 million miles of travel.
A second set of books was launched in December 2015. It includes my new book, I, Humanity, and books by Levar Burton (of Star Trek and Reading Rainbow fame), Andrea Beaty, “Lost my Name,” former astronaut Danny Olivas, and two books by astronaut Mark Kelly — which were read by his brother Scott during his “year in space” mission that just ended.
The first set of science demos was launched last June (2015), but unfortunately that was aboard the SpaceX rocket that was unsuccessful. The demos have since been rebuilt and are being prepared for a launch this summer (2016).
Here’s a brief bit of text and a video introducing the overall program:
Imagine Astronauts on the International Space Station reading stories to the children of Earth as the world rotates below.
Imagine videos of the readings accessible via the web to everyone in the world, along with additional videos of educational science demonstrations conducted in weightlessness, all accompanied by lesson plans and classroom activities that teachers or families can use. .
Imagine a community of educators, scientists, and artists all working together to make this dream a reality…
Now, imagine no more…it’s Story Time from Space!
Wondering how you can get involved?
Here are a few ways:
- Learn more about the program by visiting the web site: http://StoryTimeFromSpace.com.
- “Like” the program’s Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/storytimefromspace), where you’ll find lots of additional photos and other updates.
- Twitter @storytimespace.
- Volunteer to pilot curriculum in your school district or classroom.
- And if you want to help support this exciting program, please donate with the button on the storytimefromspace.com web site.
I believe that for any form of education to be successful, we need to focus simultaneously on three things, which I like to call education, perspective, and inspiration. The education piece is the specific content that we want students to learn. The perspective piece should show them how what they are learning will help them gain perspective on their own lives and on our place in the universe. The inspiration piece should make them care about what they learn, ideally in a way that makes them dream of how much better the world could be if they get an education and become part of the solution for the future. Story Time From Space encapsulates this education-perspective-inspiration approach better than any other education program I’ve ever seen. I hope you’ll become a part of it.
Disclaimer: While I am now part of the team supporting Story Time From Space, I do not receive any compensation from this program. I support it because I’m honored to have had my books selected by the program, and because I so strongly believe in its goals.
Learn more about Dr. Jeffrey Bennett by visiting his website.
Dr. Tony Wagner has been shaking up education (and parenting), for years. His six books, including bestselling Creating Innovators and The Global Achievement Gap, now in its Second Edition, are printed in over 14 languages and have sold millions of copies around the world.
He was recently the Strategic Education Advisor for a major new education documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed,” and co-authored the book by the same name with Ted Dintersmith. Dr. Wagner joins us at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest to expose us all to ideas about how we can prepare our children (and ourselves), to be more creative and capable in the Innovation Era.
Dr. Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills for Careers, College and Citizenship
In his work as Expert in Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab, Dr. Wagner asserts that there are seven survival skills that we all need to not just succeed, but actually thrive in the Innovation Era. These include(1):
- Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
- Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
- Agility and Adaptability
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
- Effective Oran and Written Communication
- Accessing and Analyzing Information
- Curiosity and Imagination
America is caught between a “rock and a hard place” according to Dr. Wagner, because we need new skills to be successful in our careers. But more and more, students are not graduating from our schools with these skills. What’s more, they are motivated to learn differently as a result of growing up in the “Net Generation.” Our schools have not changed as quickly as our students have.
What Motivates the Net Generation?
Many things are different for a student that has been raised with instant access to information. The Net Generation has also shopped with stores like Amazon.com – where they are treated personally and are “served” relevant products based on their shopping behaviors.
Young people have come to expect a personalized experience in all interactions. They are also accustomed to being able to explore areas that they are interested in through independent exploration. They surf YouTube, find special-interest sites, and connect to other people that share their interests.
This web of connections is ever growing and changing. Young people are exposed to new tools every day and they are not intimidated by the rapid change in their world. They want to learn from their peers, but don’t necessarily respect authority. Their best learning often happens outside a traditional classroom.
What’s Next for Education? How can it Keep Up?
Dr. Wagner’s specific prescriptions for adapting education systems include a fresh look at critical topics to zero in on developing the seven survival skills mentioned above. He advocates for activity-based (also known as project-based or problem-based) learning which increases classroom discussion and engagement, and often deepens learning.
The courses suggested, “aim not to draw students into a discipline, but to bring the disciplines into students’ lives… in ways that link the arts and sciences with the 21st century world that students will face and the lives they will lead after college.” (2)
Join us for Dr. Tony Wagner’s Presentation
Saturday, April 30th at 2pm
Your ticket to STEAM Fest includes admission to Dr. Wagner’s presentation.
Purchase tickets to STEAM Fest HERE. Seating at Dr. Wagner’s presentation is limited and is first-come, first-served. Arrive early to ensure your seat.
(1) Dr. Tony Wagner, Copyright 2010. http://www.slideshare.net/thinkglobalschool/tony-wagner-nais-presentation-11351911
(2) Harvard General Education Homepage: http://www.generaleducation.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do
A recent headline in Wired magazine put it simply: “Schools are preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist.” After all, how many times have you found a job memorizing historical dates or filling out worksheets? That kind of education is no longer relevant.
At Watershed School, our mission is to build the character and the ability of students to take on the world’s greatest challenges. For us, that means teaching them to create original solutions to real-world problems – and develop the ability to adapt, collaborate, and create.
At Watershed, this looks very different than students sitting in rows. It means
- Starting a small business in an economics class
- Using Arduino circuits to solve a problem in engineering
- Learning Spanish by navigating the streets of small town Guatemala
- Using design thinking to reduce the amount of waste headed to landfill
As a result, kids love coming to school. Your children are natural born inventors, entrepreneurs, and creative problem solvers. Giving kids the tools to express it makes them happier and more successful.
We support STEAMFest because STEAMFest is about this different way of learning. In Boulder, we are lucky to be part of a community of technological problem-solvers, educational innovators, and open-minded parents looking for something different.
And after STEAMFest, check us out at www.realworldlearning.is, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter at @watershed_co. You could even call us on an old-fashioned phone. We’d love to show you a different kind of school.
Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest is honored to present Cathy Olkin, of the Southwest Research Institute, at 4pm on Sunday, September 6th.
Cathy is a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO. Her main topic of research is the outer solar system, specifically planetary atmospheres and surfaces.
Cathy enjoys chasing the shadows of stars to learn about planetary atmospheres through ‘stellar occultation’ observations. These events have taken Cathy to many exotic locations from Hawaii, to the Marshall Islands, Australia, South Africa and Switzerland.
She also enjoys studying the ices in the outer solar system. On Pluto, Triton and other bodies, molecules that are usually in gaseous state on Earth are solid at the cold temperatures of the outer solar system. Using infrared spectroscopy, spreading infrared light into its separate wavelengths, we can learn about these ices including methane ice, nitrogen ice, carbon monoxide ice and ethane ice.
Cathy didn’t always know that she wanted to be a planetary scientist. As a child, she was interested in many different subjects including how things worked. She liked to take household items (like the phone) apart.
Cathy attended MIT where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace and Aeronautical engineering in 1988. She then proceeded to Stanford to earn a Masters degree in the same field. After that, Cathy took a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she worked in the Navigation section on the Cassini mission (well before it launched).
Motivated by the exciting science of the Cassini mission, Cathy decided to go back to MIT to study planetary science. She obtained her PhD at MIT in 1996 based largely on airborne astronomical observations used to study the atmosphere of Neptune’s largest moon, Triton.
From there, she worked at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona investigating the rings of Saturn and using data from the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the mass ratio of Charon (Pluto’s largest moon) to Pluto.
Cathy now works at Southwest Research Institute where she is currently the Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Working on New Horizons is the perfect job for her, combining her background in engineering and her scientific interests. The spacecraft traveled more than 9 years and 3 billion miles to reach the Pluto system. This summer, New Horizons spacecraft flew through the Pluto system taking the first ever high-resolution images of Pluto and its surface. The data from the encounter with the Pluto system is continuing to be returned to the ground, and we can already see that this information has transformed our understanding of the Pluto system.
Dr. Grandin will be joining us for Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest on Sunday morning and will be speaking at 2 p.m.
Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and she has been a pioneer in improving the handling and welfare of farm animals.
She was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Temple’s achievements are remarkable because she was an autistic child. At age two she had no speech and all the signs of severe autism. Fortunately, her mother defied the advice of the doctors and kept her out of an institution. Many hours of speech therapy, and intensive teaching enabled Temple to learn speech. As a teenager, life was hard with constant teasing. Mentoring by her high school science teacher and her aunt on her ranch in Arizona motivated Temple to study and pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer.
Dr. Temple Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College in 1970. In 1974 she was employed as Livestock Editor for the Arizona Farmer Ranchman and also worked for Corral Industries on equipment design. In 1975 she earned her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University for her work on the behavior of cattle in different squeeze chutes. Dr. Grandin was awarded her Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989 and is currently a Professor at Colorado State University.
I have done extensive work on the design of handling facilities. Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment I have designed for meat plants. Other professional activities include developing animal welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consulting with companies on animal welfare.
Following her Ph.D. research on the effect of environmental enrichment on the behavior of pigs, she has published several hundred industry publications, book chapters and technical papers on animal handling plus 63 refereed journal articles in addition to ten books. She currently is a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University where she continues her research while teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design. Her book, Animals in Translation was a New York Times best seller and her book Livestock Handling an Transport, now has a fourth edition which was published in 2014. Other popular books authored by Dr. Grandin are Thinking in Pictures, Emergence Labeled Autistic, Animals Make us Human, Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach, The Way I See It, and The Autistic Brain. She also has a popular TED Talk.
Dr. Grandin has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute, named a Distinguished Alumni at Franklin Pierce College and received an honorary doctorate from McGill University, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duke University. She has also won prestigious industry awards including the Richard L. Knowlton Award from Meat Marketing and Technology Magazine and the Industry Advancement Award from the American Meat Institute and the Beef Top 40 industry leaders and the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In 2015 she was given the Distinguished Service Award by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Her work has also been recognized by humane groups and she received several awards. HBO has recently premiered a movie about Temple’s early life and career with the livestock industry. The movie received seven Emmy awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. In 2011, Temple was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.
Dr. Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America. She lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism. Articles and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, People, Time, National Public Radio, 20/20, The View, and the BBC. She was also honored in Time Magazines 2010 “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” In 2012, Temple was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Grandin now resides in Fort Collins, Colorado.
IMPACT STATEMENT OF DR. GRANDIN’S WORK
Dr. Temple Grandin has had a major impact on the meat and livestock industries worldwide. List below are six specific examples that document this influence.
- Design of Animal Handling Facilities – Dr. Grandin is one of the world’s leaders in the design of livestock handling facilities. She has designed livestock facilities throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. In North America, almost half of all cattle processing facilities include a center track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants. Her curved chute systems are used worldwide and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many producers to reduce stress during handling. Temple has also designed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. This system is being used by many large corporations to improve animal care.
- Industry Consulting – Dr. Grandin has consulted with many different industry organizations each year for the past ten years. These efforts represent the majority of her time as she has a part-time appointment at Colorado State University but a thriving business as a consultant. The majority of her work is involved with large feedlots and commercial meat packers. She has worked with Cargill, Tyson, JBS Swift, Smithfield, Seaboard, Cactus Feeders, and many other large companies. Her company also does design work for many ranches. She was also involved with several major packing companies. Her consulting has led to work with companies such as Wendy’s International, Burger King, Whole Foods, Chipotle, and McDonald’s Corporation, where she has trained auditors regarding animal care at processing plants. She also has consulted with organic and natural livestock producers on animal care standards The animal handling guidelines that she wrote for the American Meat Institute are being used by many large meat buying customers to objectively audit animal handling and stunning.
- Research – Dr. Grandin maintains a limited number of graduate students and conducts research that assists in developing systems for animal handling and, in particular, with the reduction of stress and losses at the packing plant. She has published her research in the areas of cattle temperament, environmental enrichment of pigs, livestock behavior during handling, reducing dark cutters and bruises, bull fertility housing dairy cattle and effective stunning methods for cattle and hogs.
- Media Exposure – Dr. Grandin has provided worldwide media exposure for the livestock industry and, in particular, with issues relating to animal care. She has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 hours, CNN Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, and has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and Time magazine. Interviews with Dr. Grandin have been broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR) and she has been taped for similar shows in Europe. She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people. HBO has made a movie about her life starring Claire Danes.
- Outreach – Dr. Grandin maintains an appointment with Cooperative Extension at Colorado State where she has been active in making presentations to Colorado ranchers and farmers as well as those interested in the packing industry. She is sought after to discuss issues of quality assurance. Privately, she has developed her own website (www.grandin.com) which has been expanded to include information on livestock handling in addition to information relative to the design of handling systems. A section on bison handling and one in Spanish have been popular. Over 2,000 people visit the website every month and approximately 1,000 download significant amounts of information. As many as 1,431 files were downloaded daily and over 42,000 have been downloaded in a single month. The website has been accessed by people from over 50 countries worldwide. She also did a TED talk in 2010 entitled, “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds.”
- International Activities – It is clear from the wide variety of information accessed via the website, presentations made in international settings and interest in livestock handling systems developed by Dr. Grandin that her work has reached an international audience. She typically travels to make presentations internationally 3-5 times annually.
View Temple’s TED Talk
05/28/2015 – Eric Gundersen
Balance, patience, and plenty of coffee are indispensable when it comes to constructing a 16’ x 16’ city out of cardboard in about 16 hours. That is the mission before us at the second annual Denver Mini Maker Faire (coming up on June 13 and 14). Eight of us gathered on a cold and rainy day in May for our first preparation/prototyping session and learned much during those four swift hours.
Lesson #1: Safety, safety, safety
Two finger tips were lost in the first 30 minutes – fortunately they only belonged to a glove while the hand inside was left unscathed. Cardboard is dense and even with sharp knives it requires a fair amount of strength to cut. Always keep your blade sharp. If cutting becomes a challenge dispose of the blade properly and replace it with a fresh one. Retract your blade or store safely between cutting sessions. I had a friend who required multiple stitches after stepping on an X-Acto blade stored in a coffee mug, blade up, on the ground.
We used hot glue to affix cardboard to cardboard which takes time to set. The glue can get up to 380⁰ F. Instead of risking burns use binder clips to hold your pieces as they cool. Also, remember to unplug your glue gun immediately after use.
Lesson #2: Cutting
A straight edge or L-square is beneficial for making long cuts. Make two passes on the cut so you don’t have to use as much pressure. To make a clean corner for a fold, score the interior of your piece by making a shallow, straight cut.
Lesson #3: Creature Comforts
Working on your hands and knees can get uncomfortable. Consider using knee pads or gardening kneeling pads. Coffee also hits the spot.
Lesson #4: Balance
Our team is fairly diverse with a variety of skillsets. Some of us are more technical and some more artistic and everyone has strengths & weaknesses. We organically broke up into three smaller groups to tackle infrastructure (base plates), landmark pieces (a skyscraper and suspension bridge), and “greebling”/”gingerbread” details in parallel.
It… was… sloooow. After four hours (nearly 25% of our allotted time) we had:
- 8 houses
- 1 swing set w/ slide
- 5 trees
- 1 classy above ground swimming pool
- 2 base plate platforms
- 1 skyscraper w/ water tower
- 1 bridge that took 10 minutes to make
- ½ a bridge that took 2 hours to make
We learned that a bargain must be struck between quality and speed. Work too fast and it looks like junk, while painstakingly obsessing over getting all the details right takes way too long.
As we made ready to leave and looked across all the modest structures we realized that it’s the city that we’re making; not the house or tree or skyscraper. The flaws are absorbed by the scope, variety and whimsy of the landscape. These pieces make up the whole just as your companions’ participation make up the experience.
We’re going to create an assembly line process to accelerate building the building of 144 houses, our goal. We’re going to separate into groups for mass production (speed) and unique landmark pieces (quality). Perhaps you’ll visit us at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on June 13th & 14th, or better yet roll up your sleeves and give us a hand.
If one day you find yourself building a city out of cardboard remember to be creative, be patient, encourage your partners and have fun!
Editor’s Note: See the Cardboard City, and many other curiosities (you can even build your own cardboard creation), at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on Saturday June 13 and Sunday June 14 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Join MakerBoulder and Level(3) in some maker magic!
Rachel is The Cotery’s Community Manager. She previously was the Small Event Coordinator for Teach for America’s Giving Committee in New Orleans during her time as a corp member. She studied Business Administration and Political Science in the Tennessee mountains, where she grew up with a love of bluegrass music and buttermilk biscuits.
What do you make?
The Cotery is an online platform for creatives to design and presell garments. Basically, we use fashion to give talented folks a creative outlet for their art, photography, or general design ideas. Once they have designed a garment on our website, they presell it. After the sales minimum is met, we manufacture and ship their design. It allows designers to explore the fashion industry without risk. It also allows customers to get really unique garments made in the USA.
The Cotery started because the founders (Char Genevier and Tricia Hoke) realize that there is a barrier to entry in the apparel industry for many great and talented artists. The Cotery is the bridge between these artists and the fashion industry. We empower creatives to design without worrying about the time-consuming, complex, and expensive aspects of fashion. I joined the team because, as a former teacher, I have a deep appreciation for empowering others, and the Cotery’s goal really resonated with me. Because there’s no up-front costs, inventory investment, or manufacturing contracts for these independent designers, they are able to actually succeed in the fashion world, without risking everything.
What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?
Oh man, some of the designs we get are absolutely incredible. My favorite design so far would probably be these leggings. The design is the topography of the Red Rocks National Park in Colorado. Damon Redd created his company, Kind Design, to share his appreciation for the surrounding areas and outdoor sports, and he does a beautiful job bringing his passions into the designs. He’s designed a couple pieces with us and I can’t wait to see what he does next. I’m really looking forward to showing these leggings off at the TV on the Radio concert at Red Rocks this summer.
Be you and do. People have really incredible ideas and talents, but too often let self-doubt keep them from actually taking the steps to complete a project. I think it’s so important to put yourself out there and really give an interest or a passion the chance to succeed. If it doesn’t work, so what? You tried, and I think that’s more important.
What is your favorite part about the maker movement?
Without a doubt my favorite part is the influence of other makers. It’s really incredible what folks are doing these days, and observing their passions is truly inspirational. Not only is it just really stinkin’ cool technology and innovation, but the problem solving is astounding. I’m really excited for the future of this movement. I think society is embracing creative problem solving, and I think the Maker movement is leading the way. I really can’t wait to see this mentality at work when applied to societal and environmental issues. I’m also really eager to see this more in our school systems because it’s amazing to see what kids can do if you put them in an environment that leads them in this kind of problem solving.
Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?
I think every type of “making” is only going to increase in traction. There is a renewed appreciation for independent organizations and projects, as well as creative problem solving. Shopping from companies like The Cotery allows customers to be part of the movement community, and that requires a transparency from organizations that really energizes both consumers and producers. I think it increases responsibility for businesses, which will lead to overall improved society.
What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?
Moonshine – I was raised in Appalachia. But that’s illegal, so let’s say quilts. 300 years ago, women in communities used to get together and quilt when someone got engaged or had a baby. I love the idea of the thought, community, and talent that went into quilts like this. I’d love to learn how to make them, and figure out how technology can be part of the quilt-come-back.