Good luck, nullspace labs! An open letter to a Los Angeles hackerspace.

(Hi, readers! Time for a first-person interlude.)

Dear Nullspace Labs,

Having gotten the news about your impending move, I just contributed to your Indiegogo campaign. Here’s why, and here’s why I hope my friends will do the same.

We went through the same stuff back when i3Detroit was young! Ours was for a very different reason, but the tasks ahead are the same, and I wish you all success. I bet the next lease will have some strong terms about more advance notice, too. :)

Some background: We actually had good move-out terms in our first lease, but they didn’t apply to what happened. It turns out the landlord had been flying under the radar for decades, and nothing in the space was up to code.  Thus, the building didn’t have a “certificate of occupancy”, and it wasn’t about to qualify for one. We faced stiff fines for continuing to “occupy” the building without it.

However, the city thought we were cool, so we got them to hold off on enforcement, for 30 days. Just long enough to scramble for another space, make sure the new landlord had all the details in order, and shovel everything into a moving truck.

But oh, the expenses! We were “in the black” in that we were making rent, but we didn’t yet have enough in our emergency fund to cover a move. Another down payment and first month’s rent. More insurance. More renovations. (Lots of renovations…) Plus the actual truck rental. Yeah, we needed help!

We threw together a Kickstarter, and our family and friends came through in a big way. The money made a lot of things possible, plus the vote of confidence from so many donors really lifted our spirits through what was already an incredibly stressful mess.

It still wasn’t easy. We didn’t have time to organize much while we packed, and the unpacking was equally chaotic, so it took us *months* to get back on our feet and functional the way we’d been before the move. However, don’t despair! Our continued existence is proof that you can come through this! It’s now 4 years later and we’re bigger and stronger than ever.

I was lucky enough to squeeze in a visit to Nullspace Labs last time I was on the west coast. It felt instantly familiar when I walked through the door — the same kinds of stuff, the same kinds of conversations, and most of all, the same friendly and welcoming vibe that every open-hack-night seems to exude. I had a great time meeting M and Arclight and several others whose names escape me a year later. I learned a fair bit about microscopes and surfacemount, some of the group’s obvious strengths. And I hope to return sometime, although it’ll be to a different address, probably in a different neighborhood. Hopefully one with fewer stairs. ;)

(And hey, depending on how far you folks are willing to move, there’s plenty of cheap warehouse space in Detroit! Just sayin’.)

Best wishes from Michigan,

-Nate B-

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