From Whitespace (Hackerspace Gent)
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The space

Do I need to be a member to visit the space?

No, everyone is welcome, but as a non memeber you need to make sure that you come, while others are here.

When would be the best time for me to come over and have a look?

This would be on Thursday-evening, also check our calendar for events that might interest you.

What is a hackerspace?

Hackerspaces are community-operated physical places, where people can meet and work on their projects. Check Wikipedia

It's also a hang-out, you don't have to work when you're in the space, we also like to call it 'an extension of your living room'.

But aren't hackers dangerous?

No, please read the jargon file about that topic.

Why is it called Whitespace?

We decided to name the space after the location (blekerijstraat/"bleacherstreet"), we're in an old factory which used to be a blekerij, they make things white there, the brainstorm didn't take that long. Bleach, bleak, white... space hence: "whitespace". Why we use "0x20" is left as an exercise to the reader.

Who has keys?

There's a list.


What is the benefit of becoming a member?

You get over 9000 kharma points for free. The main benefit is you get a key to the door so the space will always be open for you. Also it's a ticket to the yearly general meeting. But most of all, you support the space and allow it to grow.

We have weekly meetings in the space on Thursday, everyone is free to have their say members and non-members alike.

How do I become a member?

We've got a Pandora's box in the space, in that there are membership forms. Enter your details there.

You will need to find two sponsors, people which are already members. If you are a regular visitor and are nice to the other people, finding sponsors won't be an issue.

How much is the membership fee?

It's 20 euros/month, you are always welcome to give more. This price is dynamic and can go down in the future.

There are no structural exceptions of pricing for students, pensioners, the unemployed or war-veterans. However, if you really want to be a member but don't have any cash, come and talk to us, maybe we can work something out.

Remember: you don't need to be a member to come to the space.

What will you do with the membership fee?

To cover all fixed costs we need 400€/month. Our income comes from donations we get and membership fees.

We're working on a system to make the bookkeeping as transparent as possible for all members. Please get involved in making this happen. It's easy to bitch about money, but do it in a commission where you take responsibility. Our immediate financial goals are paying everything we owe people, and building a small war chest of 3 months costs. So we're covered if something goes wrong. Also, if this party is ever going to end, we don't want to stick the bill to the people turning off the lights.

We're a non-profit org, so if the end will ever come, we need to be able to pay everything, and all that's left will need to go to a foundation which has the same goals as ours. This will probably mean: another hackerspace.

Decisions & Legal Stuff

What gets decided and how does it work?

We don't like politics and blablabla. If you want to do something, the space is yours, just do it.

There is a weekly meeting where stuff gets discussed. The conflict model is flawed and nobody likes doing it, it leads to power struggles, and when there's a winner there's always a loser. We've found that the best way to decide something is with unanimity. If we don't reach an agreement about a topic in 30 minutes, the discussion is closed. The people from both 'camps' are encouraged to chill out, have a drink together and figure something out by the next meeting.

The board of the group

They exist on paper in the statutes, there is no set meeting for the board. In Brussels there were no board meetings yet, I suggest we keep it like that in Ghent.

It's a legal thing: members of the board take responsibility and this way members are protected for almost all mishaps and legal predicaments.

How does the hackerspace work legally speaking?

We are a non-profit organisation (vzw), as founded by the statutes (http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/tsv_pdf/2010/04/27/10061209.pdf). However, the first rule of the hackerspace is: don't mention the statutes!


So what do you guys do there anyway?

That depends on the current group, there are no rules in a hackerspace, as everybody is free to work or do, whatever he likes. The space is infrastructure that brings like-minded people together. If you want to build something cool, but need help or find somebody to explore an undiscovered land, this is the place to go. We are doing workshops or hackathons or similar group-events, but nobody is forced to take part in any of these. You kind of get the idea, everybody is free to do what he wants, as long as she treats everybody and the space with respect.

Can I do $THING?

yes, unless it will kill little puppies.

Will you help me with $THING?

Srsly if you have a cool project idea, try to find people interested in joining the project, but don't expect everybody to just jump on it. Everybody has only so much time to spent on cool stuff and people might be busy with other things already. So come over with cool ideas, share your knowledge with others and have a great time.

Is this like a startup incubator?

No, a hackerspace and esp. ours is and should be a non-profit organization. The idea is to explore things that you might be interested in, which can be anything from programming, robotics, hardware hacking, software, soldering etc., but we are not a company creating products.

Since *you* are free to build whatever you like in the space (maybe the next big thing is created by you!), you can of course build something and sell it, we do not hinder you. Use your time and energy for the things you care about, but please do not put the name of the hackerspace on your thing.

Can I give a workshop/talk?

Of course! That's one of the reasons we started this thing, so please do so! Even if you are not a member, come to us and tell us what you want to present/show/explore/teach, we will set something up.


Why is this all in English?

The very first people starting the space are all members of the Brussels Hackerspace, where English is the general language of choice, since everybody has to make a little bit of an effort ot speak it and we exclude nobody. Brussels is obviously quite international and having everything in English attracts people that are interesting, but might not speak any of the official Belgian languages. This tradition is kept alive here, but don't be scared by that, almost all people speak something like Dutch in the space :-)

Do you have club-mate?

Of course!