TechShop may soon become a new nonprofit maker space, Protohaven

A TechShop staffer and member are filing paperwork today to form a new nonprofit.

tech shop
mj slaby / the incline
MJ Slaby

Updated, 2:48 p.m. 

A new nonprofit is poised replace the slated-to-close TechShop, the Larimer shop’s general manager confirmed Thursday.

Gadsden Merrill, TechShop Pittsburgh general manager, and TechShop member Devin Montgomery plan to file paperwork today for a new nonprofit  maker space called Protohaven, the pair told The Incline.

The plan is that the nonprofit would oversee the maker space starting in October after TechShop closes Sept. 30, Merrill said.

The pair said it’s still unclear which community organizations would be involved, if TechShop Corporate will have a role and where the maker space will move to.

The plan would be to keep the current space at Bakery Square in Larimer while the team looks for a new location, Montgomery said, adding that the new space would have to be big enough for the equipment and inviting for members and potential members. He said several spots are under consideration but didn’t provide specifics.

Prototype, a feminist and gender non-conforming maker space founded by TechShop staffers Erin Oldynski and E. Louise Larson, would provide the programming for the new maker space and help make sure there is equitable access for the low-income community and women, Oldynski said. She added that Prototype and Protohaven would remain separate nonprofits.

Since TechShop’s closing was first announced in May, members have met weekly to find a way to keep the space open. At the same time, staff has worked to find community organizations, foundations and corporations that would be willing to partner with the space but struggled to find one that would be willing to help pay for the equipment.

As a result of the continued interest, the shop’s closing date was pushed from Sept. 1 to the end of the month.

Multiple members brought up the idea of a nonprofit at the meetings and gravitated toward it as a solution to keep the space open. Merrill said it has a “good chance of success.”

He added that the member support has been “pretty amazing.”

“It sends the clear message that people that value it,” he said of the shop.