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Rutland makerspace shows off expanded facilities this weekend

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 6:17 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Have you thought about joining a collaborative workshop to learn new skills and share tools you most likely don’t have at home? A Rutland makerspace recently expanded its facility and is hosting an open house this weekend.

It’s been five years since the MINT makerspace opened in a much smaller facility. Now, this weekend they are having an opening house and hoping to make even more community connections. “I am shocked at the amount of shops we have been able to add. We are the biggest makerspace in Vermont,” said Karen McCalla, the executive director of The MINT.

Every year, the makerspace holds a “MINT-acular” event celebrating its birthday. But this Saturday they get to show off their new 14,000-plus square-foot facility made possible by membership revenue and support from Chamber & Economic Development of the Rutland Region, or CEDRR. “Our goal is to be self-supporting, so the money we take in in memberships, we turn right back around into new tools and equipment and pay rent on our space,” McCalla said.

Patty Thomas has been a MINT member for 3.5 years and will be teaching a demo during Saturday’s open house. “Overall, it’s a fabulous asset to our community,” Thomas said. The occupational therapist learned how to make adaptive equipment at the MINT for the children she works with in schools. “It used to be a wide-open place and everybody’s mess was everywhere and it was great, but now it is even better.”

On Thursday afternoon, artists in residence at 77 Art, a nonprofit that brings artists to Rutland, were training in various studio shops. “Oftentimes, they’ll come here from New York City or Miami or Los Angeles and they are just blown away by what The MINT has to offer,” said the group’s Whitney Ramage.

McCalla says that even with the pandemic, The MINT is hitting their membership targets, including many who experienced a forced career change during the pandemic. “People who just reevaluated life choices. They were like, ‘Is this really what I want to be doing? I don’t love my job that much. I have this great business idea. How could I make that work?’” McCalla said.

Anyone who attends the open house on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. can check out all of the studios, and some of them even have make and take options.

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