Syracuse Innovators Guild brings global hackerspace trend to CNY

A brand new community is forming in rented office space on the second floor of Syracuse's oldest downtown buildings.

Syracuse Innovators Guild, a hackerspace headquartered in the Syracuse Building at 224 Harrison St., already counts around 20 members who are hoping to grow the group.

This calls for a brief vocabulary lesson. The term "hackerspace" technically refers to a community workspace where skills are shared and projects completed, though it often implies a stereotypically nerdy subset; a variety of talents, skills and interests are cultivated through hackerspaces.

"It's up to people to come, make the most of its space and work on things they think are interesting," said SIG Vice President Mo Morsi, a software engineer.

Think of what would happen if you took the old basement workshop, transplanted it into a public space or storefront and threw open the door to anyone willing to share skills, ideas and materials for the sake of learning and creating. That's hackerspace.

Though it's just gaining ground in Syracuse, hackerspaces are already thriving in cities around the world, and closer to home in Rochester, Buffalo and Pittsburgh.

The Syracuse hackerspace began with an ad on Craigslist placed by now-President Clayton Stetz, looking for people interested in starting such a group locally.

Stetz, Morsi and Pete Dowell comprised the first informal meeting of what would become SIG, and the group quickly grew.

For nearly its first year, SIG was a group of people with similar interests meeting regularly in some of Syracuse's best bars to share ideas and update each other on their own ongoing projects.

Last November, the group became a registered non-profit in New York thanks to treasurer Christopher J. Pilkington, (federal 501c-3 status is in the works), and in January established a home base in the Syracuse Building.

The non-profit status speaks to the "for the community" philosophy behind SIG, said Morsi, and will make more grants and donations available to the group.

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