Laboratory B Burlington's Community HackerSpace

4Feb/190

Lab B Moves into New Digs at 12-22 North Street!

Posted by Matt Cropp

Location of the new Lab B entrance on the exterior of the buildingAfter a heroic move-out effort by Lab members and volunteers, and a month of being a "virtual Lab" operating out of a storage locker, Loomio group, and pop-up event spaces (thanks, Bytes.co!) we're pleased to announce that Laboratory B once again has a space!

After considering several possibilities, our membership voted to move into a room on the second floor of 12-22 North Street in the Old North End. In addition to our new HQ space, where we'll be holding public hours, meetings, co-working sessions and small workshops, the lease also gives us access to a number of shared spaces we can use after business hours, including a dedicated electronics lab, a sizeable class/event space on the first floor, and basement storage.

Many things about the Lab will stay the same, but a sampling some of the changes the move offers that our members are excited about include:

  • Handicapped Accessibility for Many Events: In the Soda Plant, all of our space was up a set of steep stairs, limiting accessibility of workshops and other events for folks with mobility challenges. While the Lab's dedicated room is similarly only stair-accessible, our ability to reserve the large downstairs space means that many of our public-facing workshops and events, such as mobile security night and LAN parties, will take place in accessible spaces.
  • Direct Access to Our Space In Off Hours: In the Soda Plant, the outside door was usually locked after 5pm, so public event attendees needed to ring a doorbell and be guided through a labyrinth to access the space. So, we're every excited that our new space has a door opening directly to the outside.

    Some members in the new Lab B (after hauling up the first load of chairs and a table)

  • Environmental Impact: In the Soda Plant (and the Hood Plant before it), we were occupying the decaying remains of industrial infrastructure, and it definitely showed in the winter time with heat loss through single-pane windows, etc. By contrast, 12-22 North Street is an optimized energy-efficiency machine: it was built by a worker co-op in the 1980s with a passive solar design, has significant installed solar electric capability (including wiring for DC lighting), and is run by a landlord who works on IoT sustainability and environmental impact monitoring. The fact that we have a monthly kWh cap in our lease has sparked our thinking on how to sip rather than chug energy (no more using out-of-date servers and crypto miners as de facto space heaters in the winter). Whether this transition means our aesthetic center-of-gravity will shift from cyberpunk to solarpunk remains to be seen...
  • Space that is more fully "ours": At the soda plant, we were subletting from Brandthropology, who were incredibly accommodating partners, but pretty much all of our space was at least somewhat shared, in they needed to walk through our main room to get to the shared Couch Room and kitchen. We now fully control our core space, while also having access to additional shared spaces and resources in the building.

We'll be spending the next few weeks moving in and setting up, and are planning to host a "Lab Warming Party" for our initial Thursday public hours on February 21 from 7-9pm. For more details, check the Facebook event, and, as always, keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming Lab B happenings!

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3Jan/190

Lab B Seeks New Space for 2019 and Beyond

Posted by Matt Cropp

After several years in residence on the top floor of the Soda Plant on Pine Street, Laboratory B has officially left the building as of 1/1/2019. Many thanks to the members who put in lots of hours, leg, and back-work over the past month to prep to space for our move, and also great appreciation to the friends of the Lab who showed up on the 30th to help with the big move day!

Half-way into filling the storage locker...

The move has been a great opportunity to assess and discard a good deal of superfluous stuff, while our core materials are safely ensconced in a Champlain Housing Trust storage locker, ready to be deployed at our next space....

We’re already in talks with a few possible new sites for the Lab, but are being deliberate about the process so we can land on the best spot for our community’s needs. We’re in search of a space with a maximum all-inclusive cost of $700/month; it can have shared spaces, be a sublet arrangement, etc., but needs at least one room that Lab members will have exclusive access to. So, if you have a lead for the next venue for Burlington’s member-run and -governed hackerspace, please get in touch by shooting an email to info@laboratoryb.org!

In the meantime, Lab-sponsored events will be popping up in various locations around town, and we’ll be using the spare capacity derived from not having weekly public hours to do some internal work to position us for success in our 5th (!) location since the Lab was founded in 2009. If you want to keep in the loop, follow our shared calendar and Facebook page, where events and announcements will be posted, and we'll post to this blog when your new space is finalized.

Happy New Year, and we look forward to sharing the next iteration of Laboratory B with the Burlington community in the coming months!

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