Dear HatchSpace members, students and friends,
Since the beginning of statewide efforts to control the Covid-19 outbreak, HatchSpace staff and Board of Directors have prioritized public health in all planning and programming decisions. As the state relaxes restrictions now and businesses begin to re-open, we believe it is important you know that we continue to prioritize safety as we plan for the future at Hatchspace.
We have a lot of new programming in the pipeline and new ideas are coming in all the time. You may have noticed that our online store has grown to feature a number of new products from the Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers. Our last class before closing in March was a Shaker bench class taught by Guild member Timothy Clark. We are working on many more such intermediate and advanced classes to be taught by Guild members when we resume teaching at our facility.
As I write, Covid-19 cases are rising nationally. Though we are fortunate to have good state public health guidance, there is reason to expect that social distancing and other anti-infection measures will be with us well beyond the summer months and possibly into next year. Our primary goal at HatchSpace is to maintain a safe, focused and collegial environment for instruction in our shared workshop. We view the need for imposing social distancing measures as a distraction from this most basic goal.
Introducing our New Off-site Membership
Specifically, because so much uncertainty remains about the course of the virus, and because we believe that social distancing measures hinder the quality of communication and supervision needed for safe woodworking instruction, we at HatchSpace have decided to suspend our existing member model and create a type of membership that is designed to support work at home. In place of our existing membership will be a new, “Off Site Membership” which will provide project-based teaching and staff support for member projects that can be assembled at home. We will provide plans, phone or email support, milled materials and supplemental hand tools for curbside pickup. Some classes and kit projects will be supported with video tutorials.
Our new Off Site Membership model is one of two major changes we’ve made at HatchSpace to sustain the organization through the pandemic. It will be our only membership option while our facility remains closed to members and students, and will become a permanent entry-level option at HatchSpace after we resume normal on-site operations in the future. Off Site Members will receive discounts on HatchSpace classes, programs and milling services; one week free tool bag rental per month; and unlimited access to our HatchSpace Zoom Shop. We continue to stay mission focused during this challenging period and hope that this new member model will help us grow our membership. Our goal is to continue to support our existing members with a variety of projects, tools and feedback, while providing simple, project-based instruction for new and beginning students.
Work at home classes, projects and kits
Our first offerings will be a Picture Framing class and a Build Your Own Skateboard class. Classes and projects added to our new member option will give students an opportunity to try our programming at relatively low cost. When we return to teaching on premises, students will continue to have access to this membership option as a way to check out HatchSpace without having to adapt to class schedules.
We have also launched a live Zoom extension of the HatchSpace Hangout every other Tuesday at 7:30p. The series began June 16th and featured Tom Bodett, Seth Harter, and Blake Johnson talking about projects they have on the bench. Attendees asked good questions and offered opinions on the work, and discussed some of their own challenges and successes. This is a great way to keep our community connected to the work we’re doing and we hope you’ll take advantage of it as it evolves. The link is on the HatchSpace Hangout page and is also sent out in an email to everyone on our student and member lists. You can register for HatchSpace Zoom Shop by clicking here.
New Members, New Students
In mid-March we had just recently introduced a revised membership model before we were forced to close. Those who renewed their memberships after the new member model was introduced will be given free access to all of our interim member benefits including classes, milling services, online group chat activities and hand tool loans. Anyone who didn’t renew their membership can join now on a month to month basis for $50/mo for access to all HatchSpace programming and services. We hope many of our members will take advantage of classes and project support during this interim period. It’s a chance to build skills and prepare for more advanced work, while continuing to support our community workshop.
When in Doubt, Make Something
The other major adjustment we’ve made is to change our business designation so that the HatchSpace shop now functions as a non-essential manufacturing facility. Until we can safely and confidently resume normal operations, staff time will be focused on building commission work and raffle prizes, and also putting our new CNC to work manufacturing items for sale. We are busy developing a line of products that will help strengthen HatchSpace in the long run by supplementing programming fees. These designs will be further developed into project-based classes to expand our CNC trainings when we resume teaching at HatchSpace. These changes are the result of careful consideration about how to best utilize our shop and keep our staff on a steady course without making public health assumptions that are beyond our control.
We would prefer to be teaching classes as usual. Until we have a clearer understanding of the public health consequences of full occupancy at our facility, however, we will build on our early success by adding these new capacities. We believe that remote project-based instruction and support can work well. We are here to support you with projects and instruction as well as milling services for your own projects. I am grateful for your continued support. Becoming an Off Site Member will help secure our future and grow our community.
Executive Director at HatchSpace