No one wants to be “forever alone“. Even those social recluse nerds like myself. We need a bond, a place to share our ideas, a place to share our passion about what we do. I am as awkward as any nerd I suppose, but I still love to bond about the things I am passionate about. Growing up in Detroit I did manage to assemble a small group of people that could talk about Never Winter Nights on AOL or the lastest rules expansion in AD&D 2nd edition but out in the open we were the scourge of society. People didn’t seem to understand our need to play Highlander cosplay or why we needed to carry around 40 pound portable computers.
When I moved to Silicon Valley this was my hope, to find a place of acceptance. I didn’t just find acceptance but I found my true homeland. Now of course its not like living in the Valley allows you to walk up to anyone and talk about the rule of two but its generally accepting. For myself I found a hideaway where nerds and business gurus alike can co-mingle and enjoy the warmth of sharing ideals, this place is the Hacker Dojo.
The Hacker Dojo can be described as a lot of things, but to me I call it home. The idea behind the Dojo started as community center of sorts. Its 1/3 co-working, 1/3 meeting place, and 1/3 social hang out. Its warehouse feel and open setting make it a comfortable place to hang out. But its more inviting then that. As you walk in and sign in to the Dojo you get a strong sense of the place. You quickly overlook the library which contains hundreds of donated books. You see the various craft projects hanging on the walls and you start to feel that this is a place for nerds of all kinds and even just regular people.
I have been a paid member for several months but I haven’t been able to attend as much as I hoped. I am imminently changing roles in my company and I want the Dojo to be me home away from home once that transition occurs. On Friday I setup camp with a few of my coworkers. We picked a nice area with couches and tables giving it a very living room working area. I worked to pound away at some code while my brethren cleaned up this weeks email. We casually chatted about various topics but overall felt at home.
In developing yourself personally and professionally you can never do this completely alone. Its simply too hard to not talk or not be around like minded people. To me this is one of the best parts of the Dojo, its community of members or other folk wondering through. In the times that I have been there I have met gaggles of startups, tech nerds, business planners, and other interesting people. This is a resource that you can’t buy but it must be grown. The people at the Dojo have done an amazing job to do this. The value there is immense and its the type of place I wish I had in the 90’s when I was getting my feet wet as a hacker.
I think that the “Hacker” part in the Hacker Dojo name might confuse some people. If your a member of the community you get it, but many may think its some sort of organized crime club. In 1984 the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer revolution by Steven Levy was published. Its an amazing tale about people that follow in the hacker way. Oh my gosh were they digitally robbing banks back then? Well I am sure it happened but thats not the hacker way. Its about using computers, its about solving problems in new ways, its about not judging others in any way except for their skills, its about not following the rules and moving to create things that my otherwise be thought impossible. If all of this sounds scary I am sure your own Mother uses a product created by these ideals. Its called Facebook and I am sure you have heard of it and perhaps even seen the dramatization about it.
I can’t be more excited about the Hacker Dojo. My only regret is that I didn’t find it sooner, but I can enjoy it now so it all works out. If your in Silicon Valley I suggest that you come by and check it out. The experience is like a hug for your brain. Currently the Dojo is doing many fund raisers to keep its doors open. Being a community driven place its funded by the community. Operating in the Valley isn’t cheap so please donate upon your visit. Buy a T-Shirt or two to support the young minds of tomorrow. As part of my blog I am offering the first ten people that mention “dojolove” to me (@robWcam) on twitter a Dojo coffee mug. I will box it up myself and ship it to you in the next week or so (international shipping may vary).
No matter what your into, no matter what your passions are, always support the community that drives you. If you don’t then it may be gone when you need it most.