“A space where we can all share & build together!” – This is what we had in mind when we started in 2012, Open Labs Hackerspace, the only hackerspace in Albania at the moment.
Ever since we started the local hackerspace, the community has been developed and evolving in various directions, starting with creating a diverse, inclusive and safe open source community to continue afterwards with pushing institutions to switch to free open source platforms. Open Labs Hackerspace has hosted over 300 events on topics that range from Open Data & CopyLeft licenses, to open source software and hardware,resulting in at least one event per week hosted at the hackerspace. We have organized Open Source Conference Albania (OSCAL) for 5 years, which has hosted approximately over 2000 participants in total and representatives from different free open source (FLOSS) communities and projects. Now, with a more consolidated FLOSS community, after our fifth birthday in 2017, we are spending even more time into changing the policies implemented from lawmakers and representatives at a central and local level. Since then, we have done various campaigns, such as playing a crucial role with the migration to Nextcloud of the Municipality of Tirana, creating the GeoPortal which uses data from the municipality of Tirana, to joining worldwide campaigns such as Public Money Public Code.
In order to be as transparent as we aspire, we would need to be financially independent and to have a horizontal decision taking schema. We always have had one goal: to fight against digital illiteracy, empower public domain, give back to the open source communities that have supported us all of these years and make Open Source a standard, not a choice. Throughout the years, we have increased from a small group of people with a dream, to over 30 active members and participants from Albania & various places in Europe and the US who are actively trying to change the local FLOSS scene.
Although we have shifted to policy making, we always return to our grass roots. We aspire to be a hackerspace to the full extent of the word. This practically means a place where people can come and spend their time working on their own projects, have informal meetings and gatherings between FOSS friends and organize events. But to be able to have such a place, we need everyone’s help. As most of the attendees are students who cannot afford an entrance fee all of our events have been free to attend. We are strong believers that membership to a community should not be stopped by economical circumstances, so our community has decided that memberships will always be free.
Starting from May 2018 we are launching our crowdfunding campaign to make Open Labs Hackerspace self-sustainable for at least one year. The hackerspace has standard-monthly expenses which make it sometimes hard to deal with. These expenses vary from the rent, electricity and water bills, taxes, internet connection and consumables. Although we have worked on a voluntary basis we have to pay our contractors, such as our accountant, our legal consultants and even a photographer for documentation and also expenses to run our hackerspace. We intend to create and implement interior design that would allow us to turn our space in a multilevel functioning space. Since we have members from different parts of the world, it is important to create a hospitable and welcoming place for everyone. With the help of this campaign, we will be able to renew our hackerspace and create a place where everyone can create, modify and share. The space will function as a co-working area, a meeting and discussion area and a place appropriate to work open for anyone to use fro free. Unfortunately, Open Labs lacks of much of the hardware and working tools to do so.
How can you join our crowdfunding campaign?
You can donate at support.openlabs.cc, pledge us on Patreon or even spread the word about us. Keep in mind that the campaign will be open until July 16th 2018.
We appreciate all the support shown to us and we hope to achieve our goals with everyone’s efforts!