OAKLAND, Calif., May 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Two years after its founding by a community of scientists, tinkerers, biotech professionals, hackers and citizen scientists, Oakland-based Counter Culture Labs (CCL) has launched a $30,000 crowdfunding campaign promoting its mission to democratize science through a full-fledged community laboratory space in the city's Temescal District.
Based out of the new Omni Commons, a former performance venue now housing a variety of grassroots collectives, CCL is part of a growing Do-It-Yourself "citizen science" movement, inspired by the garage-tinkering ethos that fueled Silicon Valley, and a natural extension of today's popular Maker movement. By providing access to research-grade lab equipment and promoting peer-to-peer learning between experts and laypeople alike, the non-profit aims to lower barriers of entry into what has traditionally been the exclusive province of universities and biotech companies.
"Biology is the technology of the 21st century," says Patrik D'haeseleer, one of CCL's founding members. "We want to put the tools of science into the hands of anyone who wants to explore their curiosity."
Over the past two years, CCL has hosted hundreds of free, hands-on classes, meetups, and lectures on topics ranging from the Ebola crisis to the cutting edge of synthetic biology. Ongoing lab projects include identifying local mushroom species through DNA sequencing and engineering yeast cells to produce Real Vegan Cheese. This latter effort was awarded Best Community Labs Project at the 2014 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition in Boston, MA.
These and other projects have been run from a partially converted former Bocce ball court since Counter Culture's July 2014 move to the Omni building. Members hope to use funds from their Kickstarter campaign to complete conversion of the lab space, purchase additional science equipment, and sponsor younger, would-be scientists/bio-tinkerers who aren't able to afford the monthly membership fee that supports the operation of the lab.
"We want this to be a place where people can be playful about discovery and exploration," says CCL member Kathy Buehmann. "Science doesn't have to be only for the experts. The more people are involved, the better."
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SOURCE Counter Culture Labs