The bridge to a Revolution I have always been a fan of the Transition Initiative, it makes complete and total sense to wind down our fossil fuel activities and create new strategies for low impact living whilst we are still able to. Indeed when I was part of Permanent Culture Now with friend Michael Thomas (now part of the Transition team) Mike asked me what I thought of the then Transition towns movement, my answer was this, if a lot of people start getting it and growing and making things on a local community basis that it is potentially a revolution in disguise because it reclaims and recreates the everyday resources that we are held to ransom with through wage slavery and low pay as well as addressing how we perceive and use resources and our relationship to the eco systems that provide us with these materials.
What are Men in Sheds projects? For anyone who is not familiar with Men in Sheds they are projects that began life in Australia and now exist all over the world encompassing different ethnicities and genders. The Sheds were initially started up as places that men who suffered from isolation and mental ill health could attend and socialize with other Men whilst they carried various different crafts including: Woodworking, Metal work, repairing Computers, and practically any other activity that involves making or repairing things.
Men in Sheds and the Transition Initiative We are currently involved and working with two Men in Sheds projects in Bolton and there are a number of things worthy of mentioning in relation to the Transition Initiative, firstly at both sites during the last year they have used up around ten tons of timber that would have otherwise ended up being thrown in Landfill. This ten tons of wood has turned into work benches, which will last for decades, vertical planters and raised beds which will help to provide people with food. The Men have also helped out with the food growing arm of both projects where they have helped out with seed sowing and planting on, and of course not forgetting the people care aspect of projects like these, the Men themselves develop greater levels of confidence, social interaction and learn new and traditional skills in the process.
A different way of working One thing that myself and Men in Sheds tutor Landrover Dave have done at the Men in Sheds project in Breightmet is to make the project a hierarchy free zone, we all have different skills and these are equally valued. Similarly at the Men in Sheds project at Willow Hey in Farnworth co-coordinator Lee is an enabler not a boss. One of the Men commented to me a while back whilst we were having a brew and fag at the Breightmet project ‘Why cant work be like our Men in Sheds sessions, we get loads done and have a good laugh doing it, without having some arsehole stood over your shoulder checking his watch’
Connecting with Communities There are now over two hundred Sheds in the UK with more opening on a weekly basis, There is no reason why these Hubs will not spread further and integrate with local communities where ever they spring up. At the Two project where I work, we already have local community members bringing stuff in to be repaired or actually joining the project itself. We have had a number of inquiries from Women wishing to do this type of thing so Jean from Bolton Urban growers is looking at putting a crowdfunding page together with a view to starting a Women in Sheds project in Bolton. As more and more community food growing projects pop up all over the place, as is the case with Men in Sheds projects, it makes perfect sense that these Community food groups should contact and connect with their local Men in Sheds project there is much work that they can do together in terms of generating local resources and sharing skills.