On Tuesday, June 15th, Ace held a virtual town hall meeting to discuss a couple of things about Ace’s near future. I had the pleasure of attending this meeting so that I could report on what went down.
A lot of the meeting had to do with dealing with a new, not quite pandemic but not the post-pandemic environment. With Ace’s membership numbers slowly going up to pre-pandemic levels, there were a lot of clarifying questions about relaxing old protocols such as key fobbing and stricter counting of how many people are in a room. Rachel Crafty, Ace’s executive director, asked for input on the new system for keeping track of who’s in the building. This system is called the booking system, and it allows members to claim time in certain workspaces and also see who else is going to be there at what times. Even though this is essentially a more refined version of typing a message in Slack, a couple of things still needed to be sorted such as who has access to older data and how user privacy should be protected.
There was a lot of talk about how masking protocol and vaccination should be considered in a time where both are inconsistent and hard to measure. Ace uses surveys and protocols to keep an eye on these things, however, some meeting attendees thought it would be best if this data was made public. That way, both instructors and members alike could have more information about who they were with and how careful they would need to be. This discussion was eventually tabled after a lot of discourse didn’t result in a clear answer. The newly reopened guest policy was also a topic of discussion, more specifically how member policy and guidelines should apply to the guests they bring. It was eventually determined that the member who brings in the guest is responsible for whatever their guest does during their time at Ace.
The final minutes of the meeting were spent talking about the co-working space at Ace. 15 months ago, the space was reconfigured to make it more COVID protocol friendly, but nowadays it’s more awkward than helpful. Ace is planning to introduce a “rent-a-desk” program, where people outside the Ace community can rent a desk at the Ace building and use it as a personal workspace. Co-working is the ideal place for this program, but at the moment it’s at a weird spot. Besides the obvious rearranging of desks, a few attendees suggested adding lockboxes to the rented desks to guarantee some more privacy to those renting the desks. What privileges these renters should have relative to members was also discussed. It was eventually decided that renters should have similar abilities to members and should be valued at the same level. Ace at the moment wants to diversify who comes to their space, and this desk renting program is part of that plan. It will hopefully get the renters interested in the tooling at Ace, and the members interested in the working space at Ace that will offer a fresh alternative to the year of at-home work we’ve been doing.
Hopefully, you’ve learned a little more about what’s going on behind the scenes at Ace.
It has been a series of hard rapid changes, long swaths of ambiguity, and holding patterns over the last 15 months. The Ace Community has come together to support our neighbors here in Oakland and throughout the bay area — and to support each other. Without the continued support of members throughout this difficult time, Ace Makerspace wouldn’t be here today. Not only is Ace and the Ace community still here but we are poised to be even better and more creative — connecting more people not only to technology and education but to each other.
Masks, Sanitization and Social Distancing
Masks are currently required in all common spaces and hallways of the building Ace Makerspace occupies. Everyone should wear a mask in the hallways and bathrooms and follow all posted notices.
Masks are now optional for vaccinated people in Ace spaces. If you are vaccinated wearing a mask is now optional in Ace Spaces. Please follow all posted signage in other parts of the building.
Unvaccinated people need to wear a mask in all Ace spaces. If you are not vaccinated please were a mask in all Ace spaces with other people for your own safety as recommended by the CDC.
Sanitization is still the policy. Cleaning your touchpoints and sanitizing your hands is still the right thing to do. These are the vectors of infection. Also, avoid touching your face. Ace will continue to provide cleaners and hand sanitizers.
6 Feet is no longer the rule. Per the CDC, social distancing is no longer required for vaccinated people. It is still recommended especially indoors for unvaccinated people. Occupancy limits now revert back to those dictated by physical safety, the fire marshall limits, and common sense.
We are bringing back the Thursday night 7pm tours! You can still book tours by appointment but they will no longer be 1:1.
Then New Member Orientation Workshop is now a live event instead of just virtual. During this live event, food and beverages may be served and it can now accommodate more folks.
The sign-up process is much shorter with a COVID Safety Certification no longer required.
Guests. Ace has reinstated our very liberal guest policy for members. Members can have as many guests as they want, as long as they abide by Ace policies and social contract and have a signed guest waiver on file. For more about the ACE guest policy see this wiki page.
Eating is now allowed again in the space. We have two great honor bars filled with snacks and drinks with fridges for day use. Members need to clean up after themselves as ants are no fun.
Renovations in the near future
Now that we no longer need to keep 6 feet (or more) apart all of the spaces will undergo renovations in the near future. A few of the updates currently under consideration:
The “dirt-bike” or sports dust masks are really popular. A lot of folks know them from using them at events like Burning Man and Coachella. The issue with a lot of “dirt bike” style masks is the exhalation valves which are totally unfiltered. This makes these masks pretty useless for COVID-19 safety. You can read more about what the CDC says about masks with valves.
Everything I used for this 2-min hack:
CLUX Mesh Black Face Mask with Black Carbon Filter by Continental Luxury (amazon)
small (not tiny) rubber bands – one for each valve
I assembled the mask according to manufacturers’ directions. I cut the filter fabric to go over the valve with a very generous overlap – you can always cut off the excess. Then I slipped the rubber band over 2 layers of filter fabric to secure it to the Valve. This covers the valve and any leaky spots around the opening.
So the issue with a lot of respirators and dust masks is the exhalation valve which is totally unfiltered. This makes them pretty useless for COVID-19 safety. You can read more about what the CDC says about masks with valves.
Check out the gallery below to see how I added a filter to my valve. I specifically added it to the outside so it would last longer before getting moist and so others could see it. I used two layers of material for the filter.
The new reality around COVID-19 safety has us all scrambling to create new habits while we go about the business of making things. We are currently trying and experiment with tool caddy’s. The idea is:
Come into the shop, and pick up a caddy
As you use hand tools put them in the bucket
Once you are done sanitize them and but them back
This way you don’t have to stop and sanitize with every tool and we avoid cross-contamination. Each bucket also has a small spray bottle of surface sanitizer and a personal pump bottle of hand sanitizer.
We are not sure if it will take all the sting out of the needed cleaning. We will see where the experiment leads!