Nadya Peek at the Center for Bits and Atoms at MIT is leading up an effort to get a FabLab build in Haiti, so that as reconstruction progresses, Haitians have an opportunity to circumvent the traditional manufacturing and supply chain paradigm — and to create a broad range of goods for themselves.
A Fab Lab are high-tech and relatively expensive ‘universal factory in a box’ – including a ShopBot CNC, laser cutter, and so forth, with which you can make all kinds of electronics, furniture, replacement parts, and even more machines. They exist in a variety of places around the world and part of having a Fab Lab is being connected with a global network of makers and tinkerers at other Fab Labs.
I initially balked at the idea of spending $250k (yowza!) on something like this, but I think that enabling and empowering Haitians to challenge the global manufacturing powers-that-be is a fundamentally important part of helping Haiti become self-sufficient. Once the ‘theatre of disaster’ shifts to somewhere else, and the spotlights move to other disasters, a Fab Lab will support their years-long reconstruction effort.
But first they need $250k, so please consider donating!