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The Art Float for Social Change

The Art Float for Social Change approaches the judges at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, where it won the ‘Best Community Spirit Award’. Photo by Dana Dworin.

Behold the Art Float for Social Change! 

We created this parade float at Tam Makers in spring 2018, to engage more people to participate in community life and democracy.

This community art project was led by Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley, co-founders of Tam Makers, with the support of Good Earth Natural Foods, the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN) and Tamalpais High School. This parade float was built in our state-of-the-art wood shop and makerspace at Tam High, with over a hundred community members of all ages and backgrounds — including makers, artists, activists, students, parents and staff.

The Art Float for Social Change features Mother Earth and a circle of hands, pulled by the dragon Quetzy, created by Howard Rheingold and Pataphysical Studios. They invite you to vote, speak up and create a better world! The art on the carousel was created by winners of the Youth Poster Contest. Our performers include Emma Spike, Sheri Cooper and Clancy Bounds, as well as the Freedom Singers and their sing-along leaders Greg Brodbank, Wayne Lechner and Marilyn Price.

The Art Float was first unveiled on Earth Day and made its official debut at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, where we received the ‘Best Community Spirit Award’. We will show the Art Float again at the Fairfax Festival and Fourth of July Parade in Corte Madera — and throughout California this fall, to encourage people to vote in the midterms election. Our traveling art show will reach out to youth and people of color through art, music, and technology.

You can see the Art Float in action in this video (also embedded below), in this Facebook photo album or in this full photo album on Flickr. Learn more with this Independent Journal article about our float, the IJ’s photo coverage of Memorial Day, as well as our own photos of Earth Day and how the Art Float was created.

As shown in this video, the Art Float for Social Change inspired thousands of spectators at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, where it won the ‘Best Community Spirit Award’. Performers included  Emma Spike and the Freedom Singers. Video by Luis Costa, Fabrice Florin and Marin Weatherspoon.

Join us at the Fairfax Parade

We invite you to march with us at the Fairfax Parade on June 9, 2018, 10am-1pm, along with our sponsors Good Earth, the Freedom Singers and our environmental partners 350Marin and friends. If you would like to march with us, please email  float@tammakers.org. We also plan to bring the float to the Fourth of July Parade in Corte Madera.

Volunteer for the Art Float

Would you like to help present the art float this summer? Join our crew for one of these events:

During these events, we need help with: loading, driving, coordination, security, setup, photos, sound, video, greeting, hosting, packing, unloading.

If you would like to give us a hand on any of these dates, email us at<float@tammakers.org> for more instructions. You can sign up for the whole day, or just for the morning or afternoon shift.

Photos from Memorial Day

Here are some photos of the Art Float debut at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade. You can see more pictures in our Memorial Day photo album.

The Art Float for Social Change at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade, with a sing-along led by the Freedom Singers. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

Young activist Emma Spoke sings on the Art Float for Social Change, with Eileen Fisher as Mother Earth and Greg Brockbank of the Freedom Singers. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

A group picture of the Art Float crew and its supporters at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade. Photo by Suz Lipman.

Art Float creators Fabrice Florin and Geo Monley at the Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade. Photo by Martha Ture.

Photos from Earth Day

Here are some photos of our first Art Float unveiling on Earth Day at Tam High. You can see more pictures in our photo album.

An early version of the Art Float was unveiled on Earth Day at Tam High School, to inspire more people to participate in democracy. Photo by Howard Rheingold.

Art Float creators Geo Monley show off their unique parade float, with a large globe spinning over a circle of hands and a carousel of art, while performer Kayla Campbell sings about youth in action. Photo by Tim Pozar.

The Art Float features the colorful dragon Quetzy, created by Howard Rheingold and inspired by the Aztec god of wisdom, Quetzalcoatl. Photo by Martha Ture.

Young artist Emma Spike sings her original composition, ‘Custodians’ to invite people to take action to protect the environment, standing on the Art Float’s podium on Earth Day. Photo by Jenny Tomkins.

Young activist Mimi Lawrence speaks up about her climate change on the Art Float’s podium, which was created to help people share their ideas for a better world. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

A young artist shows off her painting for the Art Float’s art carousel, which also features original creations by the winners of the Youth Poster Contest. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

Musician Reed Fromer sings about climate change next to the Art Float, which was created to help people share their ideas for a better world. Photo by Fabrice Florin.

You can also view photos of the making of the Art Float in this special photo album on Flickr.

An early design session for the Art Float, which was created to help people share their ideas for a better world. Photo by Chris Krueger.

Thank you!

Thanks to all our friends, neighbors, partners and community members who made this project possible!

The Art Float was created by Fabrice Florin, Geo Monley and over a hundred volunteers at Tam Makers, with the gracious support of Good Earth, the Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN), Tamalpais High School and the Youth Poster Contest.

Kudos to our float construction crew, led by David Barr, Pierina Dell’Avo, Chris Krueger, James Long, Chris Scofield, Pam and Stan Weatherspoon, to name but a few — they all worked tirelessly, above and beyond the call of duty, to bring you this experience. Tip of the hat as well to Howard Rheingold for creating the colorful Quetzy dragon, along with Freddy Hahne, Jean Bolte, Phyllis Florin, Mark Petrakis and others at Pataphysical Studios.

Many thanks to our talented performers Emma Spike, Sheri Cooper and Clancy Bounds, Reed Fromer, as well as Greg Brodbank, Wayne Lechner, Marilyn Price and all the Freedom Singers. We are also very grateful to our wonderful videographers Luis Costa, David Donnenfield, Bob Harlow, Tim Pozar, Kim Spencer and Marin Witherspoon, as well as our gracious photographers Dana Dworin, Vickisa Feinberg, Fabrice Florin, Suz Lipman, Howard Rheingold, Grace Severtson and Martha Ture.

Special thanks as well to our partners Jessica Hurtado at Good Earth, June Cooperman and Eileen Fisher at MVCAN and Bruce Burtch at the Youth Poster Contest. We are deeply grateful to our event team Carol Korenbrot and Marilyn Price and our ‘art float widows’ Phyllis Florin and Meryl Rubenstein, who kept us all organized, happy and well fed. Last but not least, we wish to thank all our gracious parade organizers: Larry ‘The Hat’ Lautzker, Paul Moe and Erma Murphy (Mill Valley Memorial Day Parade), Cynthia Briggs (Fairfax Festival) and all the nice folks at the Corte Madera Fourth of July Parade for hosting these important community events, year after year.

We really appreciate all your creativity, enthusiasm and generous support! We hope this community art project will inspire even more people to participate in democracy. We invite you all to vote, speak up and create a better world!

Learn more about the Art Float on our project pageplanning pageMemorial Day photo album, Art Float Creation albumdesign spec. For more info, email us at float@tammakers.org

We hope to see you soon!

Fabrice Florin
Geo Monley

Co-founders/Teachers, Tam Makers
Team Leaders, Art Float for Social Change

This page was adapted from our project page on the Tam Makers site.

Robot World

Create your own artistic robot! Learn how to make your robot move in a variety of ways, using a programmable Arduino board. Decorate your animated character, give it a story, and create a magical world for it to live in. All materials are included in this course: you can take your robot home when the class ends.

This Maker Art class for grades 4-5 took place at the Lycée Français in Sausalito. We met every Tuesday for 12 weeks, from 3:30 to 5pm, between September and December 2017.

Students developed new skills in playful ways: science, technology, engineering, art and math skills (STEAM), as well as creativity, problem-solving and communication skills.

Teachers were multimedia innovator Fabrice Florin and software designer Edward Janne.To learn more, view our photo albumcourse slides and student guide — and check our course page for updates.

For a quick overview, watch the short video below.

This short video of our Robot World class was created by Fabian at the Lycée Français. Merci!

Who is it for?

This program was for lower school children in grades 4 and 5 (ages 8-10). Four students participated in our afternoon class in Sausalito in fall 2017.

Where and when is it?

This class took place at Lycée Français in Sausalito, in the Innovation Lab (Room #340). The school entrance is 660 Coloma Street, Sausalito, CA 94945.

We met every Tuesday for 12 weeks, from September 12 to December 5, 2017, from 3:30pm to 5:00pm, at the Lycée Français in Sausalito.

Here was our course schedule:

  • Sep-12: Plan the robot world
  • Sep-19: Learn about robots
  • Sep-26: Build your robot 1
  • Oct-3: Build your robot 2
  • Oct-10: Program your robot 1
  • Oct-17: Program your robot 2
  • Oct-24: Break: No Class
  • Oct-31:Program your robot 2
  • Nov-7: Break: No Class
  • Nov-14: Finish your robot
  • Nov-21: Create the robot world
  • Nov-28: Rehearse your show
  • Dec-5: Shoot videos
  • Dec-12: Show & Tell


Can we see pictures from the classes?

Here are photos from our last “show and tell” class, when students performed a little play with their robots, based on their own original story: Devil Bot stole a secret recipe from Chef Bot, who runs the bakery where all the food is prepared in Food Ville. Police Bot and Swat Bot then chased the devil and locked him up, restoring peace in their little world, with “pizza for all.” 

Here are some photos from our first classes.

You can see more pictures in our photo album.

What are students learning?

Students are creating their own robot and interactive art, in a playful way that makes learning more fun. Working collaboratively, they make their bots move, bringing characters to life and interacting with others in their new ‘robot world.’

This unique combination of art and technology helps them develop a range of new skills:

  • critical thinking and problem solving
  • Arduino, robotics and programming
  • science, technology, engineering, art and math skills (STEAM)
  • creative expression, communication & collaboration skills

Learn more in our course slides and student guide.


Do you also teach this class for adults?

Yes! We taught a Create a Robot class for adults and teens at Tam Makers in Mill Valley.

In just two evenings in September 2017, we showed students how to build their own artistic robot with Arduino, make it move around, shake its head and wave. And they got to take their animated creature home with you, to impress friends and family. 🙂  We may teach more adult classes in the future. Check out our classes page at Tam Makers.


What materials are included?

Each student received a robot kit, which they learned to assemble, control and program.

For this class, we created our own robot kit, using an Arduino Feather M0 for the robot, an Pro Micro for the remote, a custom chassis, plus three additional servos and more parts. Our robot kit was similar to commercial kits, but with a lot more features at a lower cost. This robot kit was decorated by the students to create an interesting animated character. Learn more about our robot kit in our student guide.

This robot kit supports these features:
Roaming – the bot can move around under user control
Moving – the bot can move some body parts (turn its head, wave its arms, using servos)
Inputs – the bot has a variety of buttons (on/off button, buttons for different gestures, etc.)
Remote – the bot can be controlled remotely (using a remote control or desktop app)
Lights – the bot can have lights in its body (LEDs that blink, glow, or fade on and off)
Sounds – the bot can play audio (using piezo buzzer to play simple beeps and tunes)
Programming – the bot is easy to code (with visual programming tool like Snap4Arduino)
Flexibility – the bot can be expanded (with extra parts to be ordered separately)
Pricing – the bot is affordable (we’re aiming for a maximum of $75 per robot)

They programmed their robots with Snap4Arduino and made them move in different ways with servo motors. We used the school’s Macs to program the robots, using the Arduino software and Snap4Arduino, a visual programming tool. Arduino code was shared with parents when class ended, so they can help students to continue to program their robot at home.

What do the robots look like?

Students created some cool characters for their Robot World: Chef Bot, Devil Bot, Police Bot and Swat Bot

Each student received their own robot kit, which they learned to assemble, control and program. They built a chassis, wired up the Arduino electronics, made their own remote control, added a head and arms (laser cut based on their designs). Last but not least, they painted and decorated them to give them unique personalities. You can track their progress in our photo album.

The video above shows what our robots looked like in early stages of development. Our fun robots can roam around, shake their heads and flap their wings, at the touch of a button. 

Below are a few photos of our first prototypes, made with laser-cut wood figures and servo motors (to see them in action, watch our video). We call them ‘Bambots’. This name is short for ‘Bamboodu Robot’: it is inspired by the fictional Bamboodu tribe we created for art projects like the Bamboodu Float and the Pataphysical Slot Machine.

Bambots like to shake their heads and flap their wings back and forth. The photos below show other prototypes of a Bambot Angel and an Bambot Dude, in different stages of construction.

For more pictures of this course, see our photo album.


What does the robot world look like?

We invited students to design a magical world for their robots, then build it and decorate it.

They imagined a future wonderland called FoodVille: a peaceful world filled with food, to insure a life of ‘everlasting fun.’ They created a colorful landscape centered around a volcano spilling out candy lava, with robot homes and a bright red soda fountain.

We asked students to decorate their robots so they looked like characters in that fantasy world. For a closer look, see our photo album for this course.

Who are the teachers?

Multimedia innovator Fabrice Florin and software designer Edward Janne taught this course.

Fabrice Florin

Fabrice is an art maker and social entrepreneur who creates unique experiences to inform and engage communities through digital and physical media. He has led the development of many pioneering products in education, news and entertainment, working with innovators such as Apple, Macromedia and Wikipedia. He is now a teacher and artist at Tam Makers in Mill Valley, where he teaches maker art to adults and kids. Learn more at fabriceflorin.com .


Edward Janne

Edward is a software developer and teacher at Tam Makers. He has an extensive background in interactive design and engineering. Prior to joining us, he was a technical animator at Bonfire Labs, a creative content agency. He also studied at the Academy of Art University and the University of San Francisco. Edward has taught several Maker Art classes with us, and will lead more classes for adults and teens at Tam Makers this fall.


How can I learn more?

To learn more, view our photo albumcourse slides and student guide — and check our course page for updates.

Also read this overview of our Maker Art classes, and visit our site for Tam Makers, our community makerspace in Mill Valley.

For more info, email Fabrice at fabriceflorin-at-gmail-dot-com.

Introducing Tam Makers

Tam Makers is a community of makers, teachers and students in Marin County. We build things together and offer courses, meetups and a makerspace at Tam High School in Mill Valley. To learn more, visit http://tammakers.org

We are starting Tam Makers, a new makerspace in Marin — and invite you to come visit, if you are in the area.

We offer courses for adults and teens, meetups and a new makerspace at Tamalpais High School, in our state-of-the-art wood shop and computer lab.

We created this community center to serve the needs of our local community, whether you are interested in making things for yourself or supporting a makerspace for your children.

Join our meetups

If you live in our area, come to one of our free meetups, so we can tell you more, hear what you think and plan our next steps together. Our monthly meetups are listed here and run from 6 to 8pm in our makerspace at Tam High School (see address below). Adults and teens welcome. If you missed our last meetup, here are photos and slides of this event, as well as the video of our presentation and group discussion.

Sign up for classes

This year, we are offering a wide range of classes for adults and youth: from Arduino to laser cutting, hand tools, wood turning and how to make elegant boxes, to name but a few.

Learn more in our Classes page, where you can sign up for these classes before they fill up.

All adult classes start at 6pm. Teens can also sign up for these classes, with the help of an adult.

Visit our makerspace

All events are at Tamalpais High School, in our state-of-the-art wood shop and computer lab: 700 Miller Avenue (Room 416), Mill Valley, CA 94941. See map.

The best times to visit our makerspace are during our free meetups (see above). To get a feel for our space and community, check out the Tam Makers Photo Album.

Meet our team

Organizers include: Geo Monley, Fabrice Florin, Howard Rheingold and our maker friends, with the Tam High School District’s Community Ed program.

We are developing this program to build fun maker projects with our community and learn from each other.

For more information, visit tammakers.org . To get our newsletters, subscribe to our mailing list. You can also email us at info@tammakers.org .

We hope you will join us. We invite you to share this page with friends and neighbors.

See you soon!

This post was updated on August 6, 2016 to introduce new classes and meetups.