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‘Becoming Innovators’: The Bean Path Highlights Black Tech Experts, Welcomes Creativity in Makerspace

JACKSON, Miss.—During a recent day off, Jesse Huffman stationed himself at the laser cutter inside The Bean Path’s Makerspace building off Gallatin Street. Dressed casually in a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt and jeans, along with a green mask over his face, the maintenance technician placed a wooden square inside the machine with blue tape holding the material down for stability. Next to the laser cutter rested a small laptop, where Huffman double-checked his settings—the speed, the size of his stencil and the framing of the laser on the wood.

“You control two different things: the speed and how much power you put on there,” Huffman explained. “You can slow it down to make it burn more, or you can create more power to make it burn. You kind of have to play between your speed and power.”

With the press of a key on the computer, the lid of the machine closed, and it began performing its programmed duties. In less than two minutes, the laser cut out the words “God Is Love,” arranged into the shape of a cross with “God” horizontal and “Love” vertical, the two sections of wood connected through the common letter “O” in the center, which contains the word “Is” sketched out in a lighter color.

Details decorated the creation here and there, like “1 John 4:8” resting on the letter “V.” Burnt outlines from the laser gave the cross a rustic, aged look.

Jesse Huffman (pictured), who visits the Makerspace once or twice per week, first started using the resource hub in September 2022. He has mastered the use of the laser cutter after studying safety protocols and receiving equipment training from Makerspace manager Adam Crowe. Photo by Azia Wiggins

Behind Huffman stood a table full of these cutouts, some smaller than others and some featuring different visual styles. Two years ago, the craftsman designed this stencil and shared his vision with his daughters.

“I told them the same thing I told you; I have seen ‘God Is Love’ on plates, ‘God Is Love’ on cups and stuff like that,” Huffman said. “I would ask

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