Firefly Institute

Lance Crain


I would like to start a school, the likes of which has never been seen before.

First, a little background: I am the last person in the State of California to earn a Masters degree in Industrial Arts. In 1993, IA went the way of Phrenology, the way of the Dodo. Excused away as too expensive, too dangerous, and not a “core” subject, the Industrial Arts {Woods, Metals, Plastics, Automotive, Electronics, Graphic Arts and Photography) were now officially irrelevant, and replaced by, or absorbed into, the Engineering and or Arts Departments. (or more specifically, the Engines Lab at CSU, Long Beach was turned into a private art gallery for the Dean of Health and Human Services)

From the time I was in High School (the seventies) I had heard that “stupid people go to shop”. When I graduated, it seemed that ONLY my IA classes taught me anything even remotely connected to getting and keeping a job, or more importantly,  finding happiness and fulfillment. No one has ever wanted me to solve a quadratic equation (I still don't know what they are for!) or asked me what happened in 1492, or told me to conjugate my verbs more properly. Every job I ever had did want me to show a sense of pride in my work, use the correct tool for the job, apply general safety procedures at all times, work well with others, and/or build something seemingly beyond my abilities with only minimal assistance and a budget too small to be seen with the naked eye. I also seem to currently use each of these qualities to define my own level of happiness.
All things I learned in woodshop in 7th grade.
This is to say nothing of the practical skills of learning the advantages of a sharp tool, how to change a tire, or light switch, or how to communicate the shape of any object, in any language.
As I worked through my degree, I began to see how a school that taught ONLY industrial Arts could be self-sufficient pretty quickly. Electronics students could scour garage sales, purchase and repair home theatre systems, even install them. The metals students could build shooting targets, or trailers, or even go-carts with the auto students. The plastics students could build custom bodies for these go-carts, while the photography students could market them to folks that could otherwise in no way afford them. This will never be done in public schools because of liability. Liability dictates curriculum more than any educational theory. There will be no liability issues at this school, because everything is directed by the student. And students don't have enough money to sue themselves!
Recently a school In Oakland, California called The Crucible has managed to make just such a thing a reality. They charge per class, and also offer studio access to any former student, allowing anyone the opportunity to build a project they could in no other fashion even consider. Jamie Hyneman, of Mythbusters fame, has been a recent advocate of “Makerspaces;” Community based spaces where everyone can come for the sole purpose of making things ranging from homebuilt CNC machines to full size catapults and Pumpkin-chunkers.
As a public school teacher in Wyoming (yes there still are a few IA programs around, but they are on the way out...) I have seen LOTS of students get passed over, abused, beaten down, degraded, dismissed and expelled for not fitting into a mold made to produce cannon fodder, and evaluated by testing that is proven to have no correlation to reality. Any one not doing well in this institution is called a failure, and told they have no future, destined to a life of drug abuse and moral reprobation.My Vision
I see a school where everyone is welcome, a communities knowledge base is widened, tools are available for nearly every job, and no tests are given. A place where anyone with a desire to share their knowledge, on any subject there is an interest in, can teach, without permission from the State.
Where students are not trained for a job, but rather trained to be an entrepreneur, to create his or her own job, wherever he wants to go. Every welder will be aware of his “billable hours” while every mechanic will have a sense of customer service. Self reliance might include changing your own oil, and reusing that oil in a heater you built yourself to heat your shop. 
Where new technologies, especially “green”, sustainable and/or renewable would be encouraged in practice and theory along side past and present technologies to develop answers to questions that haven't even been asked yet. For example, students wanting to know how to restore a vehicle, or build a Hot Rod would have access to present and past technologies, (in the form of electronic and printed media, and of course, instructors with this kind of background) but would build their car with an awareness of not only different suspension setups, but hubless wheels.
Where integration is as important as taxonomy; math is part of automotive in the same way physics is part of welding. How much of each subject is taught is based solely upon what the student wishes to know, in order to complete his own personal quest. All learning is directed only by each student. If several students desire a specific instruction, it may justify an engine rebuilding course that covers measurements, tools, machining and the like, and the amount of math they need is the amount they get, if more is desired, then they are free to pursue their own course, but not free to force others to.
Students could build biodiesel processors and natural gas compressors to run their converted vehicles, lawn mowers and generators. Simple, lead-acid battery banks might power the inverters that run the welders, and could be charged by wind turbines and micro-hydro generators students build from scratch. Patching a hole in drywall and building a deck could be given as much or little time as replacing a toilet and soldering copper pipe. 
The Crucible started in 1999 with a grant of less than $2,000 and a 6,000 square foot warehouse. I believe theirs is an excellent model and starting point. Once a successful program has been set up in Casper, I believe this kind of school would be needed everywhere.
Once we have a building and can offer tax deductions, donations in Casper should be easy to find. I know where there are several lathes too old and out of round to be used in industry. The same goes with doner cars, ones too worthless to be given to the junkyard, and ones that will make excellent Hot Rods. How many dented cars are there in your town? How many are worthy of a $5,000 paint job? How many are driven by single moms looking for something practical for their 14 year old son to be doing?
How about a Free Film Friday? Movies with relevance (Max Headroom, The Matrix, The Fountainhead, Serenity, Captain Blood, etc) would be an excellent community outreach, bringing in new students, new teachers and more donations. Students could make a Rube Goldberg style popcorn maker, buttered by a device from Willie Wonka. 
No Spectators!
Other parts of the vision
Community center
Provide a safe, intellectually stimulating, open environment
From dropouts and f-ups to self reliant individuals
Year round events
Weekly: free film Fridays
Monthly: new project announcements
Annually…open house including car show, live music, fire art
Provide connections and support to existing community centers
Library, boys & girls club, 4h, church groups, youth hostels, hab 4 humanity, etc
Work with shelters, legal aid, dropout and student tutoring, safe schools,
Halfway houses, juvenile and adult detention alternatives, elderly assistance
Conflict resolution twixt parent and child, co workers, people and PTB 
Podcast…broadcast…pirate radio…Michael Dean, freedom
Long term goal would be open  24/7, late night projects, sanctuary
Tool and Technology Co-operative
Tools and labor connections, esp to elderly and needy
Large tools made available to students
New tool acquisition based upon needs and wants of community
Community Business ties
Constant and continuing relationships with local businesses
Specific business training and support
Consumer education, credit counseling
Help with “navigating the field” in regards to opening new businesses
Working with, around or through regulations, city & state requirements
Legal aide, city counsel, law enforcement
Conflict resolution twixt employee and employer, employer and state
Ongoing projects
Rat rod from the ground up
Computer lab…making hardware and software, Website, facebook, twitter
Biodiesel processor and veg oil pickup
Pumpkin chunkers
Shop mascot
Things I DON’T want
Student loans
Government control, accreditation, dependence, “meddling”
Lazy or whiney people, drunks, pointless exercises or arguments, disrespect
Conformity, complacency, freedom without responsibility, actions without consequences
People with a sense of entitlement…”wanties” looking for handouts…takers
Problem solving…we should be able to help just about anybody with just about anything
Usually by pointing them in the direction of existing resources, or by formulating a reasonable plan of action.
This may sound like what local churches used to be…and that’s good with me.
Kindness and Courage are the chief qualities we will encourage. 
Then we can work on patience and enlightenment!
Making money is good, Acquiring $ at all costs is not…the value of giving and the value of earning.
$ is appropriate “worthship” when given something of tremendous value…and nothing buys bygones like cash! No one is owed an education, and good teachers are priceless, not worthless….Teachers are Gods gift, not to be taken for granted.
Find a passion and MAKE, MOVE, DO, BUILD 
This is largely a philosophical adventure to show the world that if teachers were paid like rock stars and basketball players, we could change the world, for the better, in a generation.
Learning is better than sex!
Own nothing, control everything
Leadership, not authority
Like the captain of a pirate ship, a good leader is your best chance for success. In battle, orders are followed without question…AFTER it has been decided who the captain will be. The best captain is chosen, not because of popularity or kindness, but because of competence and proven performance, as well as the concern for the crew…ignore his authority at your own peril.
Authority is the guy at the dock telling you how many crates of oranges local ordinance demands you put aboard. The guy that has no dog in the race other than to tell you what the condition of your dog needs to be.
Legal protection of churches vs schools…prior position, liability, donations.
Things I can bring to the party
42” vertical mill with DRO ready to install
Welders; 220v Mig, 220v stick, Gas welding and cutting torches
220c Plasma cutter
Table saw, chop saw, band saw
220v and 110v Air compressors
Dust collectors (2)
Work benches, shelf units
Vacuum table
OSHA approved paint cabinet
Various hand and small power tools
Computer parts
Bicycle parts, motorcycle and go-cart parts, engines. 
Car parts..including 6 complete Centaur Super 7 kits and one complete, running vehicle.
Electronic parts, including 7.5 ft satellite dish and receivers for setup of free to air system
Various fiberglass molds and mold making supplies
High power and low power rocketry parts
Radio control models, parts, supplies and tools
40 years of experience in fabrication, engineering, teaching and general tinkering
Possible Available Classes
in no particular order:
Auto body
Auto chassis
Auto maintenance, repair, diagnostics and performance
motorcycle repair, diagnostics and upgrades
small engines, rider mower repair
build your own wind turbine
build your own micro-hydro generator 
build your our hot rod
build your own chopper
engine rebuilding
convert your car to CNG or veggie oil
build  your own bio-diesel still
build your own heater – oil, coal, wood or pellet
home brewing
bicycle maintenance, repair and building
metal forming
metal casting
construction – framing
construction – wiring
construction – drywall
cabinet making
finish carpentry
basic plumbing, fixture replacement, soldering
computers – hardware: repairs, upgrades, performance mods
computers – software, Internet, photoshop, drawing, modeling, animation, ebay
web page design and implementation
Energy-how we get what we use everyday...drills, pumps, tanks, wires and wheels
mold and pattern making – jewelry, lost wax casting
digital photography
working with plastics, fiberglass repair and mold making
hydraulics and pneumatics
practical alternative energy
radio control modeling
movie making, video game production
contraption building – control systems, robotic sculpture 
industrial, technical and architectural drawing
appliance repair and installation
fire breathing metal art
(reply from Joe Davis, possible $ consultant, VC)
This needs to be a straight education program. Taking the discarded/drop out kids and giving them a skill, a sense of accomplishment, a way to make a living, a readily marketable skill in the oil, gas, fabrication industries. 
These are businessmen, not artists. They want to see kids with a knack for making things, tinkering etc who don’t fit the regular school program have a way to be productive, period. No exotic art projects, not studying what they want, but learning a marketable skill through a disciplined, orderly curriculum that gets them marketable in 2 years. Similar to the Tech school in Laramie.
Bullets, 2 pages:
1. short paragraph-here’s who I am, qualifications to design the curriculum, teach the subjects period. No personal history stuff. 
2. Market-the need by industry, oil, gas, plumbing, electrical etc. Sample of jobs advertised, pay etc.
3. Numbers of dropouts not suited for standard class room education. Pool of available kids.
4. Sample curriculum for one discipline-say welding or something similar-certifications etc.
5. Goal: establish a training center etc – local view.
6. Cost
7. Time frame
8. Possible return on investment for original school-estimated. Details later if interested.
9. National possibilities, franchise etc – big picture.
Hit the main points. Avoid a lot of verbiage. Objective, not personal, this is a business proposal to numbers & results oriented businessmen. Show the need, the solution, what it means to them and the community. Especially under item 5 stress the needs and benefits to the community; from dropouts to productive citizens etc.
Try again. Look up executive summary online, get a format & follow it. Remember, initially 2 pages, there will be time to fill in the details later after the interest is created.
The reason kids drop out is because of the "disciplined, orderly curriculum". I'm not talking about starting another Wyotech, they are successful only because they have lots of students with lots of student loans. I've dealt with a lot of them, as has every hot rod shop in town, most couldn’t tell you what a set of points do, but owe $40k in student loans. I do not want to just make money, I want to make money by making things better.
Nor do I have any interest in creating an airy fairy hippy dippy art school. My goal is to be practical. I do not believe in the "sit down and shut up" model of education. There are plenty of places already in existence for that. Some students can be marketable as soon as they see things in a different light. If an exotic art project will get a dropout interested in something, then an exotic art project will make him marketable. Examples of this are the engineering classes at MIT where the goal of the class is to make a "king of the mountain" robot. The number one quality I’ve heard from any employer is a strong work ethic....unobtainable from a disciplined orderly curriculum, but easily obtainable in a student that has a passion.
If this school becomes world renowned for setting the punkin-chunking record, do you think students will be lined up? Do you think a quality employer would want to hire the kid that designed the feedback-loop control system that made the world record possible?
I have no doubt that many employers want brain dead, do-what I say without asking employees (that is why Wyoming is number one in worker fatalities) I do not want to feed those effing bastards. I want to make self reliant individuals who will start their own companies and / or be real assets to employers that know the difference. I don’t want any of my students to end up in a job they hate.
I am probably being naive, but I think there is a market for people that think. I am pretty sure I can make a reasonable case (and business plan) for this. If investors want another Wyotech, I am not the guy, but I'm sure there are a lot of others that would jump at the chance for more of the same. I am also willing to risk student direction, the sooner a person is willing to take control of his destiny, the better for everyone. How much college did Steve Jobs, or Paul Jr or Jesse James benefit from? There will be no degrees or certificates of completion because in reality, those things are truly worthless. But if you can build a chopper that actually sells for $100 grand, I think you got your moneys worth out of those classes.
My background is IA; woods, metals, plastics, automotive, electronics, graphic arts and photography. I've dealt with educated idiots my whole life and they have never given me a convincing argument beyond "children should be seen and not heard." I truly believe that any one of those seven areas can make money and benefit the community IMMEDIATELY. The electronics students build and repair computers and control systems, then study for the license, auto students repair cars. everyone learns to invoice and keep track of their time.
As things get worse, this school becomes more and more relevant. I run into my old students, now in their 20s, working at starbucks, not wanting to get $80,000 in student loans just to get a worthless piece of paper so they can enter a workforce where they are disrespected on a daily basis, by bosses and owners too stupid to even be kind to their own customers, for not much more than minimum wage, with no chance of ever getting off the wheel of pointlessness. 
Becoming truly self reliant, respectable and respected by others, with the knowledge to do literally ANYTHING they want to, with no student loan nightmares, no pointless test anxiety, no memorization of NWO sponsored lies, no Prussian cannon-fodder curriculum, no wasting time “learning” things you don’t want to and will never need to know. Able to figure out who is lying to them, and why. Able to figure out, on their own, that the biggest tv doesn’t mean happiness, but patience,  kindness and courage does.
I realize this does not fit into a business plan, indeed this is all anathema to most people with money, especially if they depend on low wage, non questioning employees. FUCK THOSE FUCKS. I don’t want to have a school that will teach the next president. My school will have students that figure out any authority (except Gods) is to be laughed at.
Firefly Rods and Carts
A new kind of school. Open to anyone wanting to learn. Tuition based upon how much you want to take home! We will start with a 5-10k square foot building and one full time and one part time employee. Lance Crain will be the full timer, with responsibilities including teaching, organization, tool supply and maintenance and general direction. The part timer will act as book keeper, event organizer, and donation solicitor. As soon as possible this position should become full time as well. Students will work on their own projects, ranging from auto body and fiberglass to ground-up builds and restorations. Centaur 7 kits will be available for those interested in building this kind of car. Go-carts will also be available, ranging from race carts to “Mongoose” style sand rail/ dirt carts with full suspension.  Classes will be given based upon demand from students, who otherwise will follow their own direction, with oversight by Mr. Crain. Safety will be stressed, but students, not faculty will be the only enforcers of any required safety regulations, beyond signing the mandatory legal waiver(s)
Students will be encouraged to become self sufficient as quickly as possible. This means students will pay for their tuition by working on projects that will make money for themselves or the school directly. Students who have no money and no project of their own will work on school projects and help other students. Some students may only take a class or two, while others will be there full time for many months, working on their own project. Any person who has taken at least one class will have access to the schools facilities. Welding students will make shooting targets, Auto body students will find dented cars in their neighborhood and fix them. Fiberglass students will make Corvette logos to sell at car shows. Electronic students will repair and install home theatre systems. Students will look for apprenticeships regularly. Hot rodders will spend a lot of time in junkyards. Ultimately, we will buy wrecks and sell turnkey cars, which will serve as student portfolios.
I believe, following this model, students will not only pay their tuition without student loans, but actually have a major role in building the school themselves, ultimately bringing in more students with a wider variety of interests, leading to more classes. Classes can be taught by anyone knowledgeable in a field that generates enough interest to have paying students. Fees to be negotiated between the students and their teacher. A one hour lecture on measurement would be nearly free, vs. a “help me build a complete rat-rod from the ground up”, that would consist of hundreds of hours of oversight, lectures, demonstrations, research and counseling, over the course of many months. This will enable the school to become self sufficient, possibly even profitable within 3 years.
Salary for Mr. Crain$4000$48,000
Building lease, gas, water, power, trash, etc$2500$30,000
Insurance, licenses, permits$1000$12,000
Salary for book keeper(10 hr / week)$1000$12,000
Supplies, consumables, materials, chemicals, safety,$1000$12,000
Tools and equipment (to be signed over to school on opening day)$140,000
Tuition  (total for 6 students)$3000$36,000
Retail sales, equipment rentals (this goes way on in second year)$1000$12,000
Special events, fundraisers, movie nights, etc$1000$12,000
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds - Samuel Adams
Plan of attack
Fireflies light up when they become passionate!
Get bookkeeper
Write biz plan
Build website…original firefly artwork  pastedGraphic.pngpastedGraphic_1.png
Get npo for donations
Get fpo for retail sales
Get $
Find building
Donate all to school
Get students
Students make building into school
Start building cars
Plan events
Solicit donations

3 Last year, an astounding 53 percentof all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.

#4 Back in 2007, about 10 percent of all unemployed Americans had been out of work for 52 weeks or longer. Today, that number is above 30 percent.

#5 When Barack Obama first became president, the number of “long-term unemployed workers” in the United States was 2.6 million. Today, it is 5.3 million.

#6 The average duration of unemployment in the United States isabout three timesas long as it was back in the year 2000.

#8 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#9 In 1962, 28 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs. In 2011, only 9 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs.

#13 The student loan debt bubble continues to expand at a very frightening pace. Recently it was announced that total student loan debt in the United States has passed the one trillion dollar mark.

#14 Incredibly, one out of every four jobs in the United States pays $10 an hour or less at this point.

(from 25 things they don’t want you to know about our economy, courtesy Freedoms Phoenix)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


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A German hackerspace (RaumZeitLabor)

A hackerspace or hackspace (also referred to as a hacklab, makerspace or creative space) is a location where people with common interests, often in computers, technology, science, digital or electronic art (but also in many other realms) can meet, socialise and/or collaborate. Hackerspaces can be viewed as open community labs incorporating elements of machine shops, workshops and/or studios where hackers can come together to share resources and knowledge to build and make things.[1]

Many hackerspaces participate in the use and development of free software, open hardware, and alternative media. They are often physically located in infoshops, social centers, adult education centers, or on university campuses, but may relocate to industrial or warehouse space when they need more room.




A workshop at HackerspaceSG in Singapore

The specific activities that take place at hackerspaces vary from place to place. In general, hackerspaces function as centers for peer learning and knowledge sharing, in the form of workshops, presentations, and lectures. They usually also offer social activities for their members, such as game nights and parties. They typically provide space for members to work on their individual projects, or to collaborate on group projects with other members. Hackerspaces may also operate computer tool lending libraries,[2] or physical tool lending libraries.

The building or facility the hackerspace occupies is important, because it provides physical infrastructure that members need to complete their projects. In addition to space, most hackerspaces provide electrical power, computer servers and networking with Internet connectivity. Well-equipped hackerspaces may provide machine tools, audio equipment, video projectors, game consoles, electronic instrumentation (such as oscilloscopes and signal generators), electronic components and raw materials for hacking, and various other tools for electronics fabrication and building things.[3] Some hackerspaces provide food storage and food preparation equipment, and may teach courses in basic or advanced cooking. Tools and material for sewing, craft, and art are also important at many hackerspaces.


The individual character of a hackerspace is determined by its members. Many hackerspaces are governed by elected boards selected by active members in good standing. Elected officers may serve predetermined terms, and help direct decisionmaking with regards to purchasing new equipment, recruiting new members, formulating policy, conforming to safety requirements, and other administrative issues.

Membership fees are usually the main income of a hackerspace, but some also accept external sponsors. Some hackerspaces in the US have 501(c)3 status (or the equivalent in their jurisdiction), while others have chosen to forgo tax exempt status.[4] University-affiliated hackerspaces often do not charge an explicit fee, but are generally limited to students, staff, or alumni, although guests from other hackerspaces are usually welcome to visit. Some hackerspaces accept volunteer labor in lieu of membership fees, especially from financially-limited participants.

There is a loose, informal tradition at many hackerspaces of welcoming visitors from other similar organizations, whether across town or internationally. Free exchange of ideas, skills, and knowledge are encouraged, especially at periodic gatherings sometimes called "build nights" or "open house days".


In 2009 there was a debate about inclusionism and exclusionism within the hackerspaces community, Johannes Grenzfurthner and Frank Apunkt Schneider released a critical pamphlet about this struggle.[5] The discussion is still ongoing.

Notable hackerspaces

The wiki maintained by (see #External links) includes an extensive and up-to-date listing of hackerspaces worldwide. Some better-known examples of hackerspaces are:

See also


External links

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