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How Hackspaces Work (and VHS In Particular)

Welcome to VHS! The majority of you have never seen a hackspace before, and there is often a little bit of culture shock. It is an unusual model that can seem strange and intimidating at first. But do not fear! Here is a quick primer to get you up to speed.

We are entirely member-funded

  • Your membership dues are a donation that keep us alive!
  • The huge majority of it goes to rent, followed by services and some tool upkeep.
  • Almost everything you see at VHS has been a donation, or purchased using these funds.


VHS is, first and foremost, a “do-ocracy”. Along the same lines, there is no one collecting a paycheque here. There is no one in charge of cleaning up, organizing the space, or fixing the tools. That is you! If you see something that needs to get done, take 2 minutes of your day, and do it!

The system works because everyone helps pick up the slack. This is what makes us awesome! Please introduce yourself to existing members; they want to be your friend!

A great way to start a conversation is to learn where the most important things are located in the space:

Once you've got that down, take some time and make sure you are familiar with

Know the different roles at VHS:


Holders of a valid membership, that awards them voting rights, a warm fuzzy feeling and access to restricted events and tools, such as members only workshops, lasercutter and workshop access.


Members in good standing that have been approved by the community and more importantly other keyholders for unrestricted and unsupervised access to the space.


Bottomliners are the special category in here, because a bottomliner is a responsible person that opens up the space to others. This can be restricted to other members, or even the general public (“guests”). Keyholders are the only members that can actually fulfill this role. A regular member can organize workshops, but without a bottomliner the space will not be opened.

The responsibilities for a bottomliner:

  • Making sure that everyone signs the liability waiver
  • Giving the safety tour
  • Making sure that there are enough liability waivers
  • Be a first point of contact;
  • Answering the phone (for access and questions)
  • Coordinate donations being brought in
  • Be an “ambassador” to the space
  • Be the responsible person in case of emergencies
  • Close up the space in a correct manner

While a bottomliner is the responsible person for running the space while he/she opens it, a keyholder never is under the obligation to open it. If a keyholder is working with tools that require presence in the immediate vicinity, the keyholder cannot be considered to be a bottomliner. A good example is a tool like the laser cutter, or otherwise being involved with equipment that requires unobstructed attention, such as working in the workshop.

Am I legally liable for everything that goes on while I'm bottomlining?

No. VHS does not expect you to watch everything, all the time. This would be impossible. However, as a member, bottomliner or not, you do need to let people know if they are doing something unsafe (or let the the BoD if they continue to do it).

vhs_member_initiation.txt · Last modified: 2019/04/20 22:25 by 00739

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