An Open Letter to Northumberland.io Volunteers

For two solid months, our producer alliance was the sole source of face shields for front-line workers in Northumberland.

Looking back, it is hard to believe that our community faced critical shortages of personal protective equipment, and that such an urgent need would be met by a spontaneous effort of passionate volunteers. For a solid two months, Northumberland.io was the sole producer and distributor of face shields to our hospitals, our long-term care facilities and retirement communities, to our first responders and essential workers. We did it for them.

This extraordinary alliance succeeded because of so many crucial factors: that we could draw on the supply chain, procurement, production, quality control and distribution knowledge and expertise that we are so lucky to have embedded in our community, because we set out from the beginning to set up robust processes (an automated online platform, serious risk management strategies including policies and procedures and regulatory compliance), because we were able to operate out of the Venture13 MakerLab as our centre of operations, because our community of innovators already understood how to collaborate and work together utilizing ready technology and talent, because we “moved at the speed of trust” across many long nights and through much uncertainty… because our local manufacturing leadership came forward immediately and made the critical decision at the outset to supply strategic materials and components like polycarbonate sheets, because they diverted supplies to us, because they contributed their heavy machines, their specialized equipment, their brilliant people… because they opened their doors, their labs, their offices and their shop floors. At a time of near total supply chain deprivation and fear of community spread of the coronavirus, we could not have moved forward without them.

And most importantly, this project succeeded because of the people—because of you, the volunteers who worked tirelessly day in and day out, night in and night out, no matter how exhausted or strained you were. You never wavered. When we look back on the onset of COVID-19 and the early days of the emergency order, I want the world to remember our teams of 3D printers (young and old, teachers and makers, students and retirees, entrepreneurs and engineers) at home or in their workshops churning out parts and components… remember the cadres of sewers feverishly finishing buttonhole elastic bands… recall the individuals and families who reached into their wallets to generously donate funds to the campaign… the volunteers endlessly assembling hundreds and hundreds of face shields with bruised hands… the drivers who brought these donations to our front-line workers right across the rolling hills of our county, from end to end… and the smiles on the faces of those who received their cheerful multi-coloured gear.

With pride we can state that our face shields were not just adequate or provisional or satisfactory: they were awesome. We didn’t settle for “good enough.” We continuously innovated, improved the design and made sure we adhered to the highest standards. We received a Class 1 Medical Device Establishment License from the Government of Canada. Our MPP acknowledged our efforts in the Provincial Legislature where they will be immortalized in the public record, we were recognized by our local media, by Ryan Reynolds on Twitter and in the pages of the Houston Chronicle, and by Prusa on their webpage celebrating how their free and open source design fuelled international community efforts to supply PPE. We put Northumberland on the map once again. And the feedback we received from healthcare practitioners and emergency responders was that our face shields were simply the best. Donations were received with sincere thanks and appreciation by all front-line workers. Your letters and emails and photos gave us heart.

There is so much to be proud of in this effort—not least of which was that a local grassroots movement solved a problem in real time that large-scale public and private sector systems could not. We acted with courage and resolve, with ingenuity and innovation. We stoked the fires of production, utilized cutting edge technology, and we made our face shields in Northumberland (with some help from our great friends in Durham Region, of course). But that is the point: we are all in this together and we always were. We’re stronger together and our community is capable of great things. If there is future need, we know we can rely on our alliance of producers to step once more unto the breach.

~JH, for Northumberland.io and the organizing committee, with boundless thanks to all who made this possible.

Assembly, Delivery and Support

· Anderson, Sharon
· Armstrong, Tony
· Barrington, Fionna
· Besso, Dan
· Blackadder, Derek
· Bouman, Ashley
· Brown, Judy
· Bulger, Dan
· Burgess, Mark
· Cardy, Linda
· Charlton, John
· Collins, Joanne
· Cragg, Theresa
· Crawford, Neil
· Cunningham, Dave
· Cunningham, Rhonda
· Darrell, Jennifer
· Daughter, Linda
· Elliott, Charles
· Ford, Lena
· Geisterfer, Mike
· Greaves, Elizabeth
· Grice, David
· Hanley, Brenda
· Hanley, Paul
· Holbrook, Keith
· Homer, Martyn
· Hunter, Betsy
· Husband, Elaine
· Husband, Isabelle
· Jarvis, Graham
· Kay, Lynda
· van Laren, Paul
· Lee, Gary
· Lotton, Chris
· Marling, Deborah
· Martin, Fran
· Martin, Riley
· Martin, Tina
· McCracken, Royce
· McLean, Judy
· McLean, Missy
· McLean, Tom
· Pareja, Mario
· Rhude, Laura
· Russell, Jack
· Searle, Melissa and Dad
· Slade, Helen
· Sleight, Elizabeth
· Smith, Katherine
· Smith, Madeleine
· Stafford, Joan

3D Printing

· Adams, Niel
· Elliott, Charles
· Ferguson, Jane
· Fingus, James
· Fowlie, Jeremy
· Geisterfer, Mike
· Greetech, James
· Grice, David
· Harley, Trevor
· Ibrahim, Bolis
· Jarvis, Graham
· Kerr, Mike & Catherine
· Lachance, Kelson
· Lean, Rick
· Lennick, David
· MacGregor, Alex
· Mandryk, Phil
· McCracken, Oscar
· McLeod, Shaun
· Moreland, Chris
· O’Rourke, Darren
· Papanicolaou, Alex
· Raymond, Arnaud
· Slade, Colin
· Stevens, Jeff
· Stubbs, Hunter
· Thomas, Cole
· Wade, Jamie
· Wallenburg, Anton

Production

· Boyle, Jerry
· Chapman, Adam
· Curtis, Gerald
· Devison, Sean
· Elder, Nathaniel
· Harvey, Dan
· Holbrook, Keith
· Hooker, Chris
· Lee, Bill
· MacDonald, Kevin
· McQuoid, Jim
· Marten, Susan
· Parcels, Jesse
· Perun, Olea
· Preik, Quentin
· Wilson, Cody
· The Team at SABIC Innovative Plastics

Organizing Committee

· Curtis, Wendy
· Daniel, Chris
· Gillis, Chris
· Gissing, Catherine
· Hayden, John
· Mactavish, Bonnie
· Mandryk, Phil
· Read, Brian
· Slade, Colin

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