Whiteclay Redevelopment

Whiteclay Redevelopment is led by residents committed to encourage and develop new and supportive opportunities in Whiteclay.  It is committed to a new direction for Whiteclay with the hope of providing positive and contributing opportunities to Pine Ridge and the greater community.  The past has been ugly.  It is a new day and time to start.

The start begins with a Whiteclay Makerspace.  

Whiteclay Makerspace will provide resources and space for artists, craftspersons, builders, cabinetmakers, furniture builders, and others with similar skills, interests, and needs.   The space will essentially be a shop with tools, machines, and supplies that people can use to build and create.  They are “creators.”

There will be machines such as dremel tools, ban saw, chisels, laser cutter, quilting machines, easels, sewing machine, work tables, and canvas stretchers, along with other specialized and standard tools and equipment.  There will be room to create and build.  

There will also be a place to obtain supplies for artists creation(s) and a safe place to store pieces in process.  

The Makerspace will also have a storefront for public purchase of items created and will build out online shopping channel(s) for sales and distribution opportunities.

The long-term possibilities of this space include mentoring, classes, and opportunities that support and inspire the youth. 

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What is a Maker Space?

A Maker space is a place with a variety of tools and machines that are available to students, designers, artists, engineers, or hobbyists. Members are trained in on any new equipment and pay a small monthly fee for access. Basically, it’s a gym membership only we plan to build knowledge, skills, community, and help kickoff new businesses.

Why build a maker space?

There are a lot of great things we could do in Whiteclay. The maker space is our first choice because of it’s potential to create new businesses and community. Easy access to professional equipment is fostering what some are calling the 3rd Industrial Revolution. The Lakota are known for incredible creativity and ingenuity. We hope to use the maker space as a platform to help this community to reach its full potential.

Why Whiteclay?

There are a lot of reasons to do something like this in Whiteclay. First of all, it is next to a huge, underserved population on the Pine Ridge Reservation. 

Secondly, a main reason for setting up the maker’s space in Whiteclay is much bigger than the practical: It’s about hope and it’s about healing. Whiteclay used to be a symbol of hopelessness and shame. Whiteclay was home to 8 residents and 4 beer stores. Those stores sold 3.5 million cans every year to residents of the reservation. With law enforcement neglecting this small town the streets of Whiteclay because a place where people congregated to drink. There were many fights in the average day, people passed out on the streets, people urinated and defecated behind or alongside buildings, many died of sclerosis, some died of violence.

As of this April, the four beer stores were shut down. We want the transformation of a place that was as bleak as Whiteclay to give hope for what can be in each community. We also want to create things in Whiteclay to help restore some of the prosperity, opportunity, community vibrancy that Whiteclay beer sales stole.

How will the maker space sustain itself?

The maker space will gather income through three sources. First, the maker space will charge a small monthly membership fee for those using the space. A second income source is through the selling raw materials. We plan to buy materials at bulk rates and re-sell those materials at fair retail prices to the artists. The third plan is to sell products made in the makers space. We plan on having an online store that will allow artists/makers to sell their work to a broader and more affluent global market. The maker space would take a small cut of those sales, but keep its commission low enough that the online market can still be a big win for the artist.