This is really just a quick post to say, please support a wonderful hackerspace in Tirana.
I've been hanging out with some amazing folks from Tirana's Open Labs Hackerspace these couple of weeks. As usual, I'm blown by the amount of sheer brilliance and civic brio contained in these spaces. Somehow, I never really get used to it.
For a small organisation in a country still working its way out of post-communist struggles, these hackers are doing an incredible amount. FOSS is a big focus in the hackerspace. They're contributing to Wikimedia, Mozilla, OpenStreetMaps, and LibreOffice. Together or in their individual capacities, they organise events and campaigns that promote FOSS, try to hold governmental spending accountable, and save architectural heritage in Tirana.
The Hackerspace is quite unique as a reflection of where the country is in terms of tech growth too. It's full of younger people, like high schoolers and undergraduates. They're whip smart. They're studying mechatronics, robotics, engineering, system administration, web development, and, naturally, free and open source software.
Albania isn't rich. Funding is low, currency is weak, and the tech ecosystem still lacks a variety of stimuli. It's not quite possible to ask for membership fees here, and rent and utilities remain constant demands. For the most part, younger people do not have the opportunities of experience to trigger the same scale of imagination as do their peers in much more privileged Western Europe.
In a region like this, Open Labs is a crucial space for horizontal knowledge transfer. And more than that, it allows imagination to grow in spite of extant historical and political economic odds.
They've got a Patreon. Support them here.
I believe about 450 Euro a month can cover their main costs. Doesn't look like much for us from wealthier states, does it? It's a big sum here.
Hardware is useful as well. They don't have even soldering irons. So, if you're coming over to Tirana, reach out to them and ask if you can bring anything. Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, oscillators, microscopes, brain-computer interfaces, etc.