[Noisebridge-discuss] Why I'm a former member of Noisebridge

diybiofridge at hushmail.com diybiofridge at hushmail.com
Tue Jan 7 01:28:03 UTC 2014


There are many reports of how former members abandoned the space, and
challenges about how and why that was the case.  Here's my experience
with Noisebridge, why I liked it, and a bit about why that changed.
My history and participation at Noisebridge was extensive.  I was at
83c within the first months of operation, and became a member a few
months after.  I was a very active member of the community, and
participated in all sorts of great activities.  I put a lot of work
and money into Noisebridge, and for a time got a lot back.
But that definitely changed.  The frustrations grew, and the return on
my investments of effort and time dwindled.
Noisebridge completely changed from what it was, and it's not at all
recognizable or desirable to me now.  The memory of what it once was
is however quite desirable.  Through direct discussions with other
former members of the community, I know that my experience and
opinions are common.
What I remember of Noisebridge was a strong community.  Noisebridge
was a place you could work from, and more importantly learn from.  You
could find people to help you out with problems, and people who were
showing off really interesting things.  There were constantly very
advanced discussions about countless topics related to coding and
circuitry.  It was also a great social resource.. I'm still good
friends with many of the people I met at Noisebridge back in its first
two years.
What changed was the drama, the direction, a lack of personal
responsibility, and cleanliness.Now drama was always present -- I
remember the diy bio fridge, the mercury, laptops in freezers and
realistic airsoft paint guns.  The place always was a drama mecca.  It
even started with huge drama, with one of the original board members
resigning in protest in the first 72h of getting a physical space.The
drama got worse though, and harder to avoid.  It became more and more
a central aspect of Noisebridge.  Weekly meetings became spectacles,
when they were originally great meet and greets, and the nature of the
drama became more heated.
The kitchen quickly became a disgusting disaster.  Theft became
common.  Tools disappeared from the woodshop, which was its own
horrible mess.  And things changed from me feeling like I was a
participant in a hackerspace to feeling like I was a room monitor
yelling at people to clean up after themselves.  Why did I care and
not just leave people be?  Because I didn't want to spend time in a
place filled with cockroaches, where I couldn't find any tools, and
was afraid to sit on anything upholstered.But it was ultimately a lost
cause.  Radical politics became centerplace, pushing out anyone who
didn't want some sort of social revolution.  Many people looking for
something more resembling a commune seemed to appear.  A handful of
members blocked any attempts to prevent the transformation of the
space.
So the space that was once a place I could leave a laptop unattended
for hours on an alley filled with feces and needles became the alley. 
The place where I could go and get help with problems, and offer my
own help to others was long gone.  I spent a few months trying to work
to get back what I loved about the space, but instead was just
verbally attacked and accused of trying to exclude people.  So
instead, I felt excluded, and bitter.  Told by people new to the space
that I was out of touch with what Noisebridge is and what it
represented.
I don't think I could ever do true justice in describing what I think
was lost, and why.  I consider it all to be a lost cause these days,
but I still miss what it was.  I doubt anyone at the space tonight
would have any idea who I am.  I'd probably be told that my opinions
are unwelcome, and that Noisebridge represents something entirely
different from what I thought it did.  And today, they'd be right. 
But I'm still bitter, and miss what we had in those first years.
I have an interest in keeping myself anonymous in this, and hope that
anyone who might be able to guess who I am respect that.
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