Maker Faire 09: The Bigger Picture of Remaking a Sustainable America

remake america photo

Photos by Jaymi Heimbuch

The bigger theme behind this year's Maker Faire is an excellent one, and one that every TreeHugger can appreciate. The call is to remake America into a sustainable place to live, and thrive. And, wandering through the various booths and displays featuring the genius of so many people, it doesn't seem like an impossible goal at all.

Remake america photo

Following on President Obama's call to "begin again the work of remaking America", Maker Faire 2009 will be organized around the theme of Re-Make America. Held in the San Francisco Bay Area on May 30-31, Maker Faire celebrates what President Obama called "the risk takers, the doers, and the makers of things."

Sustainability wasn't hard to find. From the Homegrown Village where knowledge about sustainable food growing and cooking abounded, to renewable energy hacks and inventions scattered throughout every area, to the people who dispensed inspiration and know-how for fixing anything and turning trash into treasure, the ability to remake America is clearly in the hands of the people at Maker Faire.

From Maker Faire:

-- BE RESOURCEFUL: Necessity is the mother of all invention and now, more than ever, is the time to make or fix things instead of buying them:
- Learn how to fix your broken iPod or Apple product yourself by troubleshooting the problem, getting the parts you need and following step-by-step instructions -- iFixit enables you to easily repair devices on your own.

-- CONSERVE ENERGY: Action starts at home by unplugging idle electronics, replacing products with energy efficient ones and subsidizing with natural resources:
- One Maker takes DIY to a whole new level by proving self-sufficiency is possible. Luke Iseman cultivates just about everything he needs to live sustainably -- including using recycled greywater for irrigation, practicing permaculture for food production and inventing a garden controlling system that only waters plants when they need it.

-- ALTERNATIVE TRANSPORTATION: From electric vehicles to innovative bicycles, there are many methods that don't involve gas-powered vehicles:
- Take a ride on the Solar Touring Bike, which allows two riders to travel up to 200 miles per day entirely powered by the sun.

-- REVIVE OUR AGRICULTURAL ROOTS: From urban farming to bee keeping, find more ways to live sustainably through agriculture:
- At the HOMEGROWN Village you can dig in the dirt to connect to the soil -- the source of all good food.

-- PARTICIPATE IN COMMUNITY: Cultivate trades and crafts by engaging with others and sharing knowledge:
- Stop by to see the sophisticated DIY robotics warships of the Western Warship Combat Club (WWCC). These 6-foot-long robotic warships duel to the death in a large, specially built pond with guns that fire CO2-powered steel balls.

-- ENCOURAGE LEARNING: Passing knowledge to future generations ensures that innovation will thrive -- engage students by providing hands-on learning experiences:
- Tom Zimmerman is an inventor, educator and researcher who volunteers at an elementary school, teaching computer animation and robotics, and at a high school, helping students with their science fair projects. His belief that learning can be enhanced when students have something to hold or touch resulted in a barcode system that had students arrange a deck of cards in a sequence to write computer programs.

-- MONITOR USAGE: Be aware of how much energy and natural resources you use on a daily basis to help promote conservation efforts:
- Tweet-a-watt wirelessly manages energy usage by automatically updating daily power consumption to a user's Twitter account.

-- LEND A HAND: Volunteer your time to promote DIY projects in schools and after-school programs:
- Tinkering School is dedicated to developing hands-on building experiences for children of all ages. It offers an exploratory curriculum to help kids learn how to build things by providing a collaborative environment.

-- TAKE RISKS: The entrepreneurial spirit of America is based on the premise of nothing ventured, nothing gained:
-Learn how to do-it-yourself with starter kits that help create your own Jellyfish Art or Cardboard Surfboards.

-- CELEBRATE FAILURES: Failure is an essential key to learning, by sharing mistakes you can help prevent others from making their own -- thus promoting efficient production:
- Mr. Jalopy, a leader in the Maker movement, embodies this fearless spirit -- his trials and tribulations are closely chronicled and watched by others.

These are all tips, concepts, and ideas we promote daily here at TreeHugger. So to be part of an entire festival dedicated to living out these ideas was a real joy. If you can make it to a Maker Faire, we recommend it.

More from Maker Faire 09
Maker Faire 09: Dying Yarn with Solar Power
Maker Faire 09: Turning Book Scraps into Swag
Maker Faire 09: Cool Solar and Electric Bikes
Maker Faire 09: GoBe Solar Charger
Maker Faire 09: Green Stuff I Wanted to Buy at Maker Shed
Maker Faire 09: SCRAP Puts Junk Back Into Craftster Consumer Stream
Maker Faire 09: Books Are Not Dead
Maker Faire 09: Greywater Systems Make A Great Hack
Maker Faire 09: No Shortage of DIY Garden Help
Maker Faire 09: Resurrecting Fabric Giftwrap with Furoshiki
Maker Faire 09: The iFixit Global Repair Community
Maker Faire 09: ISKME Teaches Kids to Design Sustainability Solutions
Maker Faire 09: The Bigger Picture of Remaking a Sustainable America

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