By Daniel McCloskey
(Entrance on Watson Street)
It’s a big basement/garage in Uptown between Forbes and Fifth Avenue. One wall is hidden behind machinery and dusty electronics. Other walls have been converted into expansive dry erase boards and are dense with notes and doodles. In the main space there are tables, chairs, a robot drawing on crackers with Cheez Whiz, a souped-up kids’ electric Jeep, and countless other parts and scraps of the various projects the members of Hack Pittsburgh have lying around.
Hack Pittsburgh is a non-profit membership-based organization that’s all about imagination and collaboration, and this huge room is their headquarters. Every Friday night Hack Pittsburgh holds a different event that is open to the public, ranging from informal meet-ups to structured lessons. They also host club meetings on other days of the week, like lock picking club (next meeting is on Tuesday, January 3 at 6:30pm) and knot tying club (next meeting on Thursday, January 12, 6:30pm). The rest of the time, the space is dedicated to its members.
It costs 30 dollars a month plus 3 hours of volunteer work to be a member of Hack Pittsburgh. All members get 24/7 access to the space, discounts on classes and workshops, and invited on field trips like the one to the Maker Fair in Detroit, where members recently showed off the Cheez Whiz bot and raced that kids car.
Anyone can join. Members include artists, programmers, designers, technicians, and craftsmen. As Matt Stultz, Hack Pittsburgh’s Council President, put it, “it’s for people who like to make stuff.” That may sound like an oversimplification. But it’s not. At least not by much. It’s for people who like to make stuff, and like to learn stuff about what other people are making. So if you’re interested in weather balloons, robots, or knots, if you’ve always dreamed of getting into programming, weaving, lock picking, engineering, or gorilla gardening–then Hack Pittsburgh may be the place you belong.