Urban Hax and the Walsall Creative Communities Project
Article written by Shanai Campbell
Urban Hax CIC is a non-profit organisation, managed by Geoff Henderson, Deta Ward and Ross Foster. The Makerspace was established within the Walsall area. The purpose of Urban Hax is to build a community of makers, tinkerers, innovators and hobbyists who come together to share their knowledge, skills and crafts with other members of the community.
Their goals are to build upon the knowledge of others, establish a creative space where people can come together (young and old) to nurture the basic human desire to make and give access to tools and equipment that aren’t commercially available to the public. This is through talks, classes, workshops, collaborative projects, and other activities.
"We started the company back in 2014, but we've been at this current space since 2016. We started off as a small community group of people who wanted to make stuff."
"A makerspace is a community workshop, where anyone can come in who has an interest in creativity or craft or any kind of form of technology. People can access tools and technology such as 3D printers, laser cutters and vinyl plotters."
- Deta Ward
One of their most recent projects is the Walsall Creative Communities Project. This project consists of a number of activities, such as creative showcases, creative community forums, creative journalism and a creative design challenge. These activities will set new and lasting bonds across the local Walsall community.
Urban Hax has first-hand knowledge of design through its creation of a community makerspace in Walsall, to help people practice their creative abilities for professional, educational and social purposes.
"The innovation project, we are a very multicultural space and we found that design and creativity crosses across cultures. No matter what kind of faith or culture anyone is from, they have a form of making either design or textiles and they can come together in a space."
"The Innovation Grant and design project we came up with was a way of using design as a focus to get communities talking to one another. Walsall as a community has a lot of segregation. We wanted to find a common link, so we thought creativity and design crosses all cultures, so we wanted to pull all cultures together in a way that shows off the skills of their craft and culture."
- Deta Ward
Urban Hax wants the talent within Walsall to be recognised across the community to show off Walsall in its best light. There are creatives in particular disciplines in each community who have a lot in common at Urban Hax. They believe that by bringing communities together, they can exchange practices, techniques and benefit from each other.
"There has been a massive rise in wear technology, like conduct thread, connecting textiles and electronics that together creates a cross pollination."
"The more people part of this project, the better."
- Deta Ward
An issue in the Walsall community is that many people have had little opportunity to express their creativity or even recognise that they are creative. In order to address these issues and use creativity as a means to break down barriers, Urban Hax takes on people of any background, sexuality, disability or age to take part in their projects and activities.
"We have a network that has grown organically. It's good for us to work with the partners of the Innovation Grant, from Walsall for All and Nash Dom."
"I think that everyone makes something in some way, and the idea is that we want to people who make stuff. We're after anyone, from cooks to musicians from the the depth of Walsall. We want people who are passionate about what they do and their creativity."
- Deta Ward