We don’t usually cross-post full Facebook posts to the website, but we’re making an exception for this one. Thanks again Jim for helping to chronicle that last five years and helping to spread the word about the Pajama Factory. Best of luck in all your future endeavors. We’ll see you around the campus.

Today is the last day of 2016, a fitting time to pair a goodbye with a hello, I suppose. My name is Jim O’Connell and I’m the person who’s been the “Facebook Voice” of the Pajama Factory for the past five years or so. (Nice to meet you all. :-)). But as I mentioned, this is a goodbye of sorts, as this will be my last day posting for the Pajama Factory.

I hope you’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing here. I’ve had a lot of fun both writing about what goes on here, taking pictures and hoping to present an upbeat and accurate representation of an absolutely amazing group of people: the tenants and artists, craftspeople and businesses here at the Pajama Factory.

A Creative Community like the Pajama Factory really is an amazing thing to have here in Williamsport. Let me explain why it’s important, as I see it. I grew up here, but left in 1984, returning a couple of times a year at most. By 2010, I’d been living in Tokyo for a decade, but my mother now needed more help and it was time for me to come back to a town I’d thought I’d seen the last of.

I wasn’t happy to be back at first, but I soon learned that Williamsport had changed a great deal over the past 30 years. There was no appreciable art scene in Williamsport in the 1980s. Downtown was a grim place back then and “Millionaires’ Row” seemed beyond hope of ever revitalizing.

I explored town again and was pleased to find it full of life and hope—good shops and restaurants and a modern coffee shop alongside old friends like Otto’s and Plankenhorn. Millionaires’ Row was looking better than it ever had, I’d wager.

People kept telling me that I “should check out the Pajama Factory” and I eventually did, reluctantly riding my bike into the courtyard in May of 2010 and meeting Chad Andrews, who, within minutes, had me convinced that something worthwhile was happening here. (He has that effect on most people who meet him.)

For me, the draw of big cities has always been to be around creative thinkers – to be able to talk to people who think about things and get excited about Ideas. It becomes a very tangible thing, a “Currency of Ideas,” if you will, the lifeblood of creativity. This old factory somehow has it, in abundance. Ideas and creativity bounce through the long, maple-floored halls, held in by the bricks, warmed by the perfect light captured by our remarkable windows.

I could go on waxing poetic about the place, but, if I’ve done my work over the past five years, you already know all of that. Let’s look forward to 2017, shall we?

I’ll be staying at the factory, of course. In the new year, I hope to expand the work I’ve been doing with my students, young and old, to share my love of technology. I’ll still be getting my orders of parts from Shēnzhèn delivered to Way Cool Beans, from which I’ll continue to build my crazy gadgets.

Thank you all and Happy New Year!

Jim O'Connell