Joe Johnston’s Childhood Memories Prove Barnone Was Always a Makerspace

There is a strong connection between memories and our childhood homes. Whether at a backyard birthday party or in a barn, those memories tend to stick forever.


As we get older, childhood amnesia sets in and we reminisce only on the strongest memories that survive our youth.


Joe Johnston, the visionary and developer behind Barnone in Gilbert, formed many of those unforgettable memories in the Quonset hut soon to open as an innovative makerspace for Arizona craftsmen and women.


His first memory of Barnone is as a mountainous playground of cattle grain. The Morrison family, prominent farmers at the time, were storing grain in the Quonset hut. Johnston must have felt like a mountaineer surmounting Everest crawling atop mounds of the grain.


Exploration and creativity are key components in expanding a child’s horizons as they grow up. What more could any child ask for? On a farm there are acres of space to roam, play and let imagination run wild.


Even back then, the Quonset hut was used as a makerspace – just in an informal capacity. Johnston and his brothers built Go Karts and all sorts of contraptions. So, turning the space into Barnone seemed natural.


Foraging the farm for bits of steel and abandoned machinery, the Johnston brothers welded together all sorts of makeshift machines. The farm had plenty of tools and supplies. Johnston learned how to weld at a young age and went on to pursue traditional engineering degrees and gain skills in mechanical and electrical engineering.


You never know what huge impact one small childhood experience is going to have. With the freedom to chase whatever captures their interest, children can truly become whatever they dream to be.


I hope Barnone will serve as the backdrop that inspires children for many generations to chase their creative interests.


By guest writer
Domenico Nicosia