Promoting Sheds

Starting with Staithes Shed

Phill got Staithes into the press this month via the Whitby Advertiser.  Staithes put a great spurt on and is fast sprinting to the finish line of the greenhouse and the start line of actually growing in it!  Well done Phill.


Festival of Thrift proved to be a busy 9 – 5 at Billingham on Saturday

It certainly had the atmosphere of the old Festival at Kirkleatham. However it was truncated to a one day event because of the weather forecast for Sunday.

From a Sheds awareness promotion perspective it really rang the bell. At a guess (no record!) there were about a dozen very “meaningful” engagements and probably twice that number briefer conversations and “postcard thefts!

There were three types of deeper engagement 1) with men and women wanting to know more about opportunities to attend themselves or for a partner, 2) with health professionals and community workers (a couple covering North Yorkshire), and 3) two  separate men who work at night but who saw the value of what was done by Sheds for people and want to help.

The latter were a very intriguing and unexpected stream of interest that could fit with ways we work with two of our Daves slightly semi-detached!

Thanks to Steve Marsh we had several of his nail puzzles which worked a treat (including with the young son of one of the men in 3) above.  That was mainly in the afternoon when Graham was flailing a bit and needed to sit down to work with the young puzzlers.

Was it worthwhile?  Yes, very. Some of the discussion was about the kind of Shed non-Shed work we do in Whitby Doing Place that we are seeking to replicate in Norton area.  Wanting to offer more people a wider choice of creative distraction to relieve being at some kind of a loss.

There is more detail on the website and some of it relates to two men who came forward who need the sense of belonging to something worthwhile more at the giving end than receiving end. Two nightshift workers in fact. This is very refreshing (one already in touch). Community builders by nature, building for their families too. Below 40 years. At a time when getting “volunteers” for things is reportedly so difficult maybe the appeal of “the adventure of building” might be an important strategy. It will be a challenge to some already involved and settled, but reinforcements are needed!  

Now a few pictures, starting with a dragon breathing fire.

Hands of a young girl with the puzzle she took home

A candle maker with the puzzle who later talked with Graham’s son on a collaboration!

An American family in UK whose eldest, tallest capped son knew the puzzle.






















Apologies for not getting more shots of the event itself, but 95% of the time was at the “sales” point in a marquee.

Image is important

Local Norton artist Mikey (who often exhibits at the Norton Marketplace) was commissioned Graham to produce an original piece of art depicting “a” Shed and the change that comes from being a part of a Shed community. The art has a title “Little things can mean a lot”.

Deliberately a lot of sky for reasons you will see.

Mikey agreed to the image being photographed and made a gift from Norton and Whitby district Sheds that could be donated to Sheds to use as a backdrop to messages and greetings. So, not Norton or Whitby Men’s Shed but “Love” Shed! Just love it!



On serious thought

There were many conversations at the Festival of Thrift that were far from casual. There were obviously discussions about what the Sheds do and why, but there were half a dozen with people about the way “being in community” does or doesn’t pay out these days. There was recognition that there had been major changes in the fabric of society itself and in what we regard as local community. People don’t have time to invest in belonging. Giving time not to “help” people but to give time to sharing about life in community and the needs there are in community. The plan if you like. Putting strong anchor points in place.

The Ken Loach film last week (The Old Oak) somewhat put its finger on that fact. Until people suddenly paid attention to each other in a small patch, they simply lobbed little bombs across barriers at each other!

What has got Graham thinking (other views welcome) is that there are people, maybe like the two men mentioned above, who want to do something worthwhile and meaningful that is not just “charity” but  helps construct the type of community fabric that they and their families will benefit from. People for whom the Shed is a way into doing what they subconsciously are wanting to do.

There were several examples in conversation of wives/partners concerned about their spouse having few interests or time to do things that were not family and work focused. A bit of “creativity” time for themselves. Maybe there are people out there – men in this case – who do want to do something to “change the world”! Sheds and established members will, of course, need to think through the benefit of having some people around who are a bit different to them!

Community building is what Sheds are about in part (importantly so) and certainly we all need to be talking about that at our grass roots. Why don’t we open a Dream Shed – a place to join in this kind of informed, purposeful chat that complements local and national strategy thinking. WOW!!!

To mind, literally as this was typed the London Coffee Houses of 17th/18th century sprang to mind. A quick Google brings to the fore the following description:


Coffeehouses during the Enlightenment

The painting is of a London coffeehouse during the Enlightenment in the late 17th century. England was famous for its coffeehouses during the time. These places were public spheres where men (women were excluded) would exchange ideas and join discussions.

Many historians regard the English coffee houses during the 17th and 18th centuries as the most important Enlightened public sphere in England, One could enter the coffeehouse with a penny, get their cup off coffee, and become part of that day’s intellectual discussions. A penny would also grant the patrons access to newspapers. In fact, coffeehouses in Oxford earned a name for becoming “penny universities”. They offered an alternate way of learning and passing on information that was different from the traditional classroom or court education.

What made coffeehouses special and a symbol of the Age of Enlightenment was the fact that the coffee-house was not limited to a specific socio-economic or social class. They were open for everyone from a variety of classes to participate in and become engaged in the conversation. The price of coffee, a penny, brought people together and facilitated conversation. People could come to coffee houses and bring their diverse backgrounds and ideas with them to engage in debates. With the free and unrestricted flow of ideas in coffeehouses, rational discourse was possible. The coffeehouses played a significant role in the formation of the Enlightenment legacies as they are known today. Perhaps some of the most important ones that coffeehouses contributed to was to think freely, rationally, and openly.

Feeling you need a bit of enlightenment and to contribute to it?
Sheds actually do this. Shedders influence each other in free (but respectful!) ways.  But maybe having a few places where discussion can take place without the need for defined outcomes and time management would be useful resources. Places where discussion gets down to needs. Wonder if there are any grants for this . . . .?   PS. These would not be male only coffee houses with women serving, as in the photo. Just for people!
Monday and the glaziers are in at Staithes

Inside to out

Outside to in















Why do I think this was posed! Great stuff!

Well today was again great progress on the greenhouse construction…….another team effort all round …commencing as usual with a cuppa of Brian’s finest tea then …Liz was on wood preservative duty and did a great job working round the rest of the team….Phill was back from holiday thoroughly refreshed and raring to go ….
As the photos show , all the shedders were involved …the polycarbonate had been cut …the panels all aligned with laser precision ..or until Ken said “right that’s ok now get it fastened on “..….so we now have one lower section all panelled …
We have a joiner coming on Thursday to hang the door …and we’ll continue with the polycarbonate……weather permitting we may even do an extra session this Wednesday…all in all a great team effort …and plenty of smiles …
Enjoy the photos ..

Promoting the Norton Shed with a premiere video of a walkthrough

Premiere because it is the first attempt without (yet) the aid of a gimbal. We’ve sent several Shedders off to stage school before our next attempt. 



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