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Help us build Oakland's grassroots Community Lab for biohacking and citizen science.
Help us build Oakland's grassroots Community Lab for biohacking and citizen science.
187 backers pledged $33,170 to help bring this project to life.

About

Counter Culture Labs - YOUR biohacking & citizen science lab project video thumbnail
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$33,170

187

We've reached our goal - thank you so much!

We are so appreciative of all the support we've gotten from our community.If you would still like to donate to the cause, sign up for membership, or just learn more about what we do, visit our web page:

http://counterculturelabs.org

What's this about Open Source Biohacker Insulin?

A project so new it hadn't even made it on our Kickstarter page yet - check Anthony Di Franco's guest post on Jonathan Eisen's blog. Meanwhile, do support our -80°C freezer stretch goal, because we'll need that one for the insulin project as well...

Stretch Goal: Buy an Ultra-low freezer for $5000

One of the pieces of equipment we're still missing is a -80°C freezer - an essential tool to build a culture collection of interesting bacteria like C-MOULD, or store genetic parts like Taq polymerase or our Real Vegan Cheese genes. A resource for the entire DIYbio community!

Covered in:

Become a Founding Member today!

Multi-month memberships are discounted up to 25% and more. Sign up now, lock in that rate, and become part of our community. We have toys - come out to play with us!

About us

We are Counter Culture Labs, a community of scientists, tinkerers, biotech professionals, hackers, and citizen scientists who have banded together to create an open community lab — a hackerspace for DIY biology and citizen science. Help us build a space for creative exploration and discovery: a place to innovate, learn, work on fun projects, and tinker with biology and other sciences. Help us build YOUR lab!

For far too long, science has been locked away in the "ivory towers" of universities and research labs. Silicon Valley was born out of garage workshops and hobby clubs, the precursor to today's hackerspaces. And much of tomorrow’s innovation will be born out of the garage labs of today.

Biology is the technology of the 21st century, and has the potential to affect our lives as much as or more than computers did in the 20th century. Our goal is to demystify and democratize this technology, putting tools into the hands of those who want to learn. We believe in the power of diversity and peer-to-peer education; everybody has something to teach and everybody has something to learn. Whether you’re ready to start testing that cutting-edge, pre-startup research idea, or just want to play with some bioluminescent algae, this is the place for you!

Our Values

We need your help

We need your help to bring citizen science to anyone! Our lab space is in a building called Omni Commons, home of nine other collectives stewarding a space to pool shared resources and collaborate toward social change. We’ve already held tons of free classes and workshops, ranging from the science of our senses, to a workshop on local soil sampling, to an introduction to molecular cloning. Counter Culture Labs is currently home of: the Real Vegan Cheese project (in collaboration with Biocurious), creating vegan cheese engineered from baker’s yeast; Fermentation Station, perfecting homebrewed kombucha, beer, and tasty vinegars; and Bay Area Applied Mycology, whose core current research focus is fungi for soil remediation.

We now want to renovate the lab so that more advanced science can happen in a safe and responsible way. To do this we need sinks, a transparent enclosure to keep the lab dust-free, and an electrical upgrade to power the equipment we’ve been amassing since we moved in last summer. Most of our rent is paid through membership dues, but accruing members has been difficult as our lab is incomplete. It’s vitally important that we keep our classes free and open to the public, but we operate on a shoestring budget - an all-volunteer labor of love and dedication to Open Science. We'd also like to be able to sponsor budding scientists who may not otherwise be able to afford membership. 

What we've done so far

We've held over 300 open meetups and free classes around Oakland over the past two years. We've played with black stinky mud to make Winogradsky columns, taught hands-on basic genetic engineering techniques in the makeshift biolab in a spare room (before we moved into our new home at the Omni last July), made a Ghost Heart, and hosted talks on the human gut microbiome, the Ebola crisis, orphan drug development via crowdfunding, and much more. We’ve also spent countless hours agonizing over how to build a lab "for the people, by the people" while searching for a space to call our own. Meet some of our members here.

Funky microbial art with Winogradsky columns - Environmental Microbiology 101
Funky microbial art with Winogradsky columns - Environmental Microbiology 101
Ghost Heart in a jar!
Ghost Heart in a jar!
DNA extraction from spit at Maker Faire 2014
DNA extraction from spit at Maker Faire 2014
Microscopes and telescopes!
Microscopes and telescopes!
Soil sampling along the length of Temescal Creek
Soil sampling along the length of Temescal Creek

Ongoing and upcoming projects

  • Real Vegan Cheese aims to create real cheese from baker’s yeast (no animals involved!), allowing us all to eat lower on the food chain. Help reduce animal suffering and environmental impacts from the dairy industry, and health issues from cheese consumption. This project won a Gold medal and the award for Best Community Labs Project at the iGEM international synthetic biology competition last October! We’re planning a new project for iGEM 2015 right now - come join us! 
The Real Vegan Cheese team
The Real Vegan Cheese team
  • The Bay Area Applied Mycologists are currently overhauling one of our storage rooms to grow mushroom spawn for food, recreation (bioluminescent mushrooms - woot!), and even pollution cleanup.
  • The Fermentation Station is a group of folks brewing up batches of beer, wine, kombucha, vinegars and more, in the food-safe part of the lab. We’re looking forward to doing some fun sequencing and culturing projects, combining traditional brewcraft with cutting-edge microbiology and molecular biology.
  • We also have a number of people actively doing DNA barcoding projects, identifying mushroom and local spider species based on their DNA sequence. We’d love to work with groups like Nerds for Nature to add this as a standard part of their grassroots BioBlitzes, where local volunteers descend on a park or other natural area for an intensive survey of its biological diversity.
  • We ♡ Bio Art! Whether you’re fascinated by glow-in-the-dark bioluminescent organisms, want to paint with colorful bacteria, explore the invisible world under a microscope, or learn how to create biocouture using nature’s own high fashion designers, this is the place for you!
  • We want to do much more with environmental monitoring, such as installing sensor packages on our roof to monitor weather, air pollution and radiation, while offering classes for the local community on how to test your water for bacterial pollution, or test your soil for heavy metals and other contaminants.
  • We are partnering with the local school district to develop a teacher training curriculum in STEM education.
  • We hella love Oakland! We want to be a resource for the local community to ask questions on scientific topics or concerns. Our vision is to create an open and accessible space inviting to the curious passerby. We’d like to be a resource for our neighbors and become an awesome part of the Oakland community.

The Lab

We currently offer our members most of the essentials for a full-fledged molecular biology lab, including several fridges and freezers, incubators, centrifuges, shakers, microscopes, PCR machines, spectrophotometers, gel rigs, etc. We also have two biosafety cabinets, a large desktop autoclave, a Speed Vac centrifugal evaporator, a beefy Millipore water purification system, and several bioreactors. Three large donated lab benches were mounted on casters, making much of the lab layout reconfigurable. We also have a room set aside for our future BioSafety Level 2 lab, enabling us to work on human samples and cell lines, or to isolate novel bacteria with useful properties.

Finished construction projects include painting and re-flooring the BSL-2 lab room, sealing cracks in the concrete floor, moving in a >700lb biosafety cabinet, assembling large lab benches and mounting them on casters, and more...
Finished construction projects include painting and re-flooring the BSL-2 lab room, sealing cracks in the concrete floor, moving in a >700lb biosafety cabinet, assembling large lab benches and mounting them on casters, and more...

Check out this amazing 3D scan the lovely people at Immersio made for us.

Budget

We’ve only moved into our current home at the Omni a few months back, and while we can already start doing some interesting experiments, there are still a few big infrastructure pieces needed to transform this former Bocce ball court into the mad science paradise we’d like it to be:

A more detailed budget can be found on our wiki.

Sponsor a budding scientist!

We are located in Oakland, home to lots of underprivileged youth, homelessness and unemployment. But we believe that anyone with some gumption and interest deserves a chance to come play and learn with these technologies.. So help us sponsor someone who would otherwise not be able to afford a membership! All our membership rewards are transferable, so you can gift one to someone you know. Or you can also do a “Get One, Give One” by simply doubling the amount you donate for one of the membership awards. Any donations above the listed price will go towards our fellowship program.

Reward pics

The Omni Commons  

The Omni Oakland Commons is a truly amazing community space in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland. A rambling 23,000 sqft 1930’s building, it now houses a vibrant assortment of collectives, including our direct neighbors hackerspace Sudo Room, free university Bay Area Public School, a print studio, a wellness collective, a screen printing shop, a bookstore/cafe, and much more. So much better than just finding a space all by our lonesome!

Risks and challenges

- Creating a clean and safe space in order to do good science.

- Attracting enough members to be financially sustainable in the long term. We run on a shoestring budget, and we’ve already built a strong community around us through outreach and community events. We also plan to diversify our income further by applying for educational grants.

- Confronting fears associated with any new technology, through classes and events that are free and open to the public. Reach out to the local community, carefully listen to any concerns and questions and respond honestly.

- Can we really put your name on a newly sequenced bacteria? Heck yeah! Some of the people involved in CCL have published genome papers before, and we have some connections to get the sequencing done cheaply. At $3000 for this reward, we won't be making much money off this one, but this is something we're excited to tackle as a project anyway.

We do have some challenges ahead of us, but we have a great team with diverse backgrounds and are excited to develop Oakland's citizen science community.

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    Pledge US$ 1 or more About $1.00

    Our Eternal Gratitude!
    Want to show your love for the project? Want to keep informed about our updates? This is the level for you!

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    Stickers!
    We will send you two UV-resistant die-cut vinyl stickers witrh our Counter Culture Critter logo. Stick'em where it counts!

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    Hackerspace passport.
    Get your collectible custom Hackerspace Passport, with an official Counter Culture Labs stamp on the "visas" page to get you started. Visit all your favorite hackerspaces, and collect them all!

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    Eppendorf star earrings
    Be the envy of your lab mates with these creative earrings made out of 99.9% pure lab-grade Obtainium!

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    T-shirt.
    I joined the Counter Culture Lab revolution, and all I got was this bitchin T-shirt!

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    Rainbow Factory - Genetic Engineering 101!
    Come learn how to design you own genetic circuit, and make a mutant E. coli in whatever your favorite color is.

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    Original Curd Nerd Jewelry
    A pendant with a 3D printed model of the protein structure of chymosin, the enzyme used to make cheese!

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    Infected Necklace!
    Show you have culture, with this handmade necklace containing a tiny Petri dish with blood red bacteria.

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    1 month membership
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    Biohacker labcoat. Get a nice, useful lab coat emblazoned with a Counter Culture Labs logo. It’s great to soak up some science, but it’s best if it doesn't soak into your swanky shirt.

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    Plaque on the wall.
    We will engrave your name on a plaque of supporters and permanently mount it on the wall of Counter Culture Labs in Oakland, CA for future generations to marvel at your foresight and generosity.

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    Necklace with DNA message.
    Write a message of up to 140 characters and we will convert it into DNA using Craig Venters ASCII->DNA translation table.

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    Brainstorming session. Step forward and flesh out an exciting, ambitious idea. We will provide email consultation and a 90 minute in person (or video chat) session with a team of our most experienced biohackers, engineers and mad scientists from CCL.

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    1 year sponsorship
    Sponsor a promising young genius - or a crotchety old one, for that matter. Sponsors will have the opportunity to help evaluate candidates. And you still get your name on a plaque on the wall.

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    Mad Science Afternoon!
    One of our founders will visit you anywhere in the SF Bay Area for an event of your choice. We can do a talk, visit your school, corporation, or birthday party! Or, just nerd out for up to four hours!

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    3 year membership
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    Name a species after you
    We will sequence a new bacterial strain or species and publish it in the scientific literature with your name on it. How cool is that? Oh, and your name on a plaque on the wall.

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    Become one of our Founding Members and receive a 5 YEAR membership, and your name on a plaque on the wall.

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    Biohacker Weekend
    One of our founders will visit you anywhere in the world (English speaking preferred, but we’ll work with you…) and do a talk or workshop on Biotech, Science Hacking, the Science of Food, or any other topic you damn well please. Visit includes two 8-hour days covering items on your wishlist agenda, and any social time around the events that can be arranged. Local accommodations are requested.

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Funding period

- (30 days)