Maker Spotlight: JOY SULIMAN Interview by Stephanie Valle

Creativity + Technology = Opportunity. The three words that make everything work in my life.”

— Joy Suliman

Joy is a spirited, no-nonsense individual with a passion for creative digital media and electronics. Her personal mission is to improve community access to these kinds of technologies in order to create opportunity, particularly for children and young people. This mission is reflected in her professional pursuits, which include being a youth worker for Save the Children and running her own business, Irresistible Learning. Joy was one of the first Makers to join Makers Place, Leichhardt. To Joy, this co-working space represents a grass-roots community movement that is geared towards social good. Makers Place has helped further her personal and professional projects by providing access to tools and introducing her to a vibrant and diverse community of people. We recently sat down with Joy to explore her work further, and discuss the role Makers Place has had in supporting her. 

Stephanie: What do you see yourself as being in a professional sense?

Joy: I do a lot under different banners. Broadly, I work to increase community engagement in the field of creative digital media and electronics. I do that mainly through workshop facilitation with children and young people. My CV for the last 20 years has had some kind of community engagement and audience empowerment. I like to share skills and knowledge. 

Currently, my main role is as a youth worker for Save the Children. I work in the Mobile Youth Van Project (https://www.facebook.com/MyVanYouthServices). This is a project that focuses on giving young people across the state the skills and access to creative digital technology. We go out and work in public spaces and community centres. 

I also recently started Irresistible Learning  (www.irresistiblelearning.com.au), an organisation that builds on this idea of access and equity by running workshops to turn consumers into creators. I do this by helping people understand and engage with the processes that make our world. Our motto is “Creativity + Tech = Opportunity”- these three words make everything work in my life. When you teach a person advanced image making techniques, or how to write basic code, even if it doesn't lead to anything else, it opens up their mind to what makes up the world around them.  

That’s what my business is about: active engagement. I want to engage people with technology in a simple, hands-on way. It’s not necessary to be an expert to convey to someone the excitement and possibility inherent in technology. I consider myself to be a learner and I try and take that into the work that I do. We're on a journey together. 

Stephanie: How does Makers Place fit into your life? 

Joy's kit of electronic essentials

Joy's kit of electronic essentials

Joy's kit of electronic essentials

Joy: Makers Place is a really great space for me to be a Maker. It encompasses the same idea as my business, the idea that we're on a journey together. I've been here a few months now, and it’s been great. It’s given me access to the technology, skills and support I need to create. 

Joy's upcycled tin can microphone!

Joy's upcycled tin can microphone!

Joy's upcycled tin can microphone!

I've been making microphones as a hobby- it’s not part of my business, I just like playing with things. I live in a small apartment. It’s not easy for me to work in my home. It’s very time consuming to unpack and repack my equipment. Recently, I took all my electronics to MakersPlace. This has improved my capacity to make things and it’s made my projects better as I’ve had immediate access to other tools and people- that helps me solve problems fast. 

Makers Place is amazing for both collaboration and inspiration. I've met some great people. It’s a really important space for that, for gaining an audience and creating a community. For example, I run a meet-up for women and girls that make electronics called ElectroCraft (https://www.facebook.com/groups/531694260245393/). Women range from PhD electrical engineering students to artists that want to integrate electronics into their projects.  Our meetups are at MakersPlace. There’s something about this kind of movement that people really love. It caters to all kinds of people and I want to enable that. 

As a result, Irresistible learning and Makers Place are now collaborating to hold events to discuss and further this movement- it’s called Making Community. We both have a strong interest in working with library and community organisations. Making Community will be an opportunity for these organisations to hear from leaders in this field about the kinds of practices that will help to integrate the forefront of technology with community engagement to better equity and access. 

Joy talking about Makerspaces and Hands On Engagement at Making Community event March 2015

Stephanie: What’s next for you? 

Joy talking about Makerspaces and Hands On Engagement at Making Community event March 2015

Joy talking about Makerspaces and Hands On Engagement at Making Community event March 2015

Joy: I’m going to continue working on my projects and dedicate myself to bettering the causes I'm passionate about. The next step is sharing my skills and expertise with my colleagues in the cultural and library sectors- MakersPlace will have a role to play in this also. 

You can find out more about Joy’s work via the links below, or meet her at MakersPlace Show and Tell on March 14th 2015

M.Y.Van: https://www.facebook.com/MyVanYouthServices

ElectroCraft: https://www.facebook.com/groups/531694260245393/

Irresistible Learning: www.irresistiblelearning.com.au