By Vander Gac, Development Director at The MINT – Rutland’s Makerspace
Moving to Vermont is not something that you do accidentally. You have got to want to be close to nature. Eating wild raspberries on the disc golf course close. Shoveling several feet of snow close. Driving up into the clouds close. Vermont is one of the only places in the country where you can find all those things surrounded by progressive communities striving for self-improvement.
You move to Vermont because you want to take advantage of all the cool resources it has to offer. You move to Rutland because you want to be able to easily access all those resources.
There are some resources, however, that are specific to Rutland. Resources that set it apart from other Vermont communities. The MINT – Rutland’s Makerspace, is one of them. It is a makerspace unlike any other and where I am fortunate enough to work there as development director.
MINT stands for Make, Innovate, Network, and Tinker. It is great that those are the things we stand for because it is also an acronym of our name. The MINT exists to provide the creative and entrepreneurial members of our community, a powerful collection of tools and resources which might otherwise be cost or size-prohibitive.
Every makerspace is different, but all of them exist to serve their community’s needs. If you are looking to make something in Rutland, The MINT has what you need. The MINT recently expanded to 14,000 square feet featuring a ceramics studio, stained glass and electronics lab, laser cutters, 3D printers, letterpress lab, fully equipped wood and metal shops, and more. We host training sessions for our various shops every month and are always growing our collection of tools and skills. Some of our makers operate businesses like Beyond Woodworks, Insane Fire Pits Laser Brain Studio, Mystical Maidens, Sidekick Labs, Two Bad Cats, and Wandering Fox Studio. while others use their membership at The MINT to repair farming equipment or to unwind at the end of the day by designing with clay.
Embracing intersections is how a community innovates a stronger version of itself. The MINT is a physical space where those intersections happen. People looking to discover something new by exploring an art they always wanted to try can work alongside plucky entrepreneurs looking for a cost-effective way to start or grow their own business. Without even meaning to, these groups support each other because their passion for their common space makes it a brighter place to be. The light that comes from cooperating reveals areas where innovation can happen.
The MINT is an incredible asset if you are looking for a new creative outlet, to start a business, or simply to surround yourself with people who have a passion for making things. The network aspect of the space may not be as flashy as the lasers, but it is integral to how The MINT serves our community.
Meeting new people is an intimidating process but at a makerspace, it is a little different. There is no other place where you can use a universal conversation starter with such great effect. All you have to say is “What are you making today?” and you will have opened the door for a new friendship. Even better, people will start to ask what YOU’RE making. These individuals will care and have tips and ideas that can only grow in places where all of arts and science intersect.
As someone who recently moved to Vermont from the Midwest, in just a few weeks The MINT has introduced me to groups like Rutland Young Professionals and 77ART, and to amazing people creating the coolest products and inspiring solutions to suit their specific needs. There are lots of communities who have great people, professional groups, and art nonprofits… but because Rutland has The MINT, you can connect with organizations, business opportunities, and new friends all under one roof.
When you stop worrying about what you are going to make, you are free to tinker. Tinkering is like playing, but with power tools. Tinkering is using a laser cutter to engrave a block which you can then load into a letterpress. It is taking your customized print and adding conductive tape and LEDs to make a card that lights up. The same busy intersections where innovative work is always happening can be your playground and no one will mind because they will be too excited to see what you make. That is what it means to be a member of a maker community. That is what it means to be part of The MINT.
For more information about The MINT visit www.rutlandmint.org