Bend offers lots of places to check out art and grab a bite to eat—but the only place where you can do that after you learned to weld, build a tiny home or make drinking glasses out of wine bottles is at 9th Street Village.
When Dave Danek and Tim Willis first started throwing business ideas around in 2014, they didn't know anything about maker spaces or co-working offices. They just wanted to have a cool shop where they could build anything they wanted.
Now, along with Aaron and Charah Leis and Annie Willis, they're co-owners of 9th Street Village, a 3-acre lot housing Bright Place, an art gallery and shared studio space, Griffin Hall, a co-working office and eventual brewery, and DIYcave, where anyone can build almost anything they want. Approximately 40 artisans and businesses now work at 9th Street Village.
The five co-owners manage all of this while also working full time jobs outside of 9th Street Village.
"There is never a dull moment," Danek said, laughing. "And we don't get much sleep. But we work really well as partners—we each have something to bring to the table, so we manage to get everything done."
During the work week, Danek spends his time working a couple blocks away at Akamai Woodworks. Outside of his regular hours there, you may find him hanging out at DIYcave, teaching a woodworking class, serving as steward on Sunday mornings or even scouting out some food.
"It's hard to stay in touch if you're not in the middle of it," Danek said.
When Danek, Willis and Leis opened the DIYcave, they didn't really have any idea of how to manage it. Now they have 17 volunteers who teach classes and/or fill the role of shop steward.
The shop stewards fill a vital role at DIYcave. One of them even wrote a software program to keep track of how much time members have left per month, Danek said. Unlike a gym where you check in and can stay as long as you like, DIYcave memberships are based on time. When they only had 50 members, Danek and company kept track on a whiteboard. Once their clientele started growing, they realized they needed something more streamlined.
Danek said no one needs to have experience before they come into make something. One of Danek's favorite stories is about a woman who wanted to make a tiny house.
"She walks up to us with a drill in one hand and a drill bit in the other hand, and she goes, 'OK guys, how do these go together?'," he said. "She came in not knowing anything, but she built her tiny house. You can get a lot of advice through the community here to get your project done, and with the equipment we have you can build almost anything."
The strong sense of community is what Danek loves most about 9th Street Village.
"The goal of building 9th Street Village is to create an amazing place for the Central Oregon community and all who visit the area to have a great place to gather and enjoy the immense amount of creativity that is happening right here in Bend," he explained. "It's amazing to see what happens here on a daily basis because of the people who come here."
If coming in with a project in mind seems like too big of a step, people can always sign up for a class, doing anything from jewelry making to wine bottle glasses to couples' welding classes.
Danek, Leis and Willis have big plans for the future. That area of Bend doesn't have many restaurants or spots where people can hang out, so Danek wants more lunch options near his work. They're currently in the process of getting permits to have four permanent food carts on site. The long-term plan is to add a seven-barrel brewery and pub. Right now, 300 hops plants are breaking through the dirt, and will eventually make their way up some DIYcave-made trellises. Meanwhile, the owners are working on their plans for the building where the pub and brewery will be.
And if you go for a visit, you might even get to meet Leonard the cat (who is running for mayor of Bend!) inside Bright Place Gallery.