Chicago nonprofit repurposes USPS van in to an on-the-road “makerspace” for young people to learn design skills

Chicago-based nonprofit Chicago Mobile Makers has converted a USPS van into an on-the-road “makerspace” for young people to learn new design skills.

The nonprofit, which was set up in 2017, offers free and low-cost design programming to young people, teaching architecture, fabrication, and construction in partnership with museums and local institutions.

The converted USPS van enables Chicago Mobile Makers to now deliver services directly to Chicago neighbourhoods. Mobile Makerspace is a 108-square-foot classroom, gallery, tool shed, and design studio-on-wheels.

Four rooftop solar panels provide ample renewable energy to power tools, laptops, and even larger machinery like a laser cutter and 3D printer. A hinged door at the van’s rear swings open for classes to spill out onto neighborhood sidewalks and streets. 

An all-local team of builders and designers created interiors and custom cabinetry of birch plywood, while bench tools smartly fix to a pegboard.

Mobile Makerspace was set to go on the road from this summer, but with social distancing in place due to the COVID19 pandemic, the Chicago Mobile Makers have had to adapt. Instead, the nonprofit will use the repurposed van for pop-ups around Chicago where they will hand out art kits for kids to complete on their own to reduce contact.

Images: Tom Harris Photography

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.

Chicago Mobile Makers

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