Australia Men’s Shed Association (AMSA) has been actively promoting men’s sheds since circa 2007 and there are 1000 registered sheds in Australia and the concept has gone global.
AMSA has difficulty defining a men’s shed, but in practice a men’s shed can be anything from a “coffee shop to an industrial workshop” that is attended by men so they can talk (male company) preferably while they are doing something they like doing.
Their need usually arises when men are not working and do not have the opportunity for regular male company.
Sporting clubs and pubs and church groups and other community groups can supply male contact on a regular basis. Men’s sheds need not be in an actual shed and can be a “spin-off” of any other mixed group.
Executive Summary Pop-Up Men’s Sheds
A good men’s shed does not have to own or rent a tin shed, or an old shop or attach itself to a Church (hall). A good men’s shed is just members meeting regularly doing something or nothing then going back home to their usual routines.
So I have dubbed the “homeless shed” men’s shed to be a “Pop-Up Men’s Shed” because it just pops up wherever and whenever the members want it to.
It can be argued that a “Pop-Up Shed” has more to offer men than a permanent shed, at least at the beginning. But there are many permanent sheds that have a great attraction for men.
The choice between a fixed shed and Pop-Up shed is really all about the circumstances, the climate, and the availability of premises and noise restrictions for machinery.
Executive Summary Changing Times
It was generally thought that a Men’s Shed was to be a place like Grand- Dad pottered around in down the back of the house or the farm, but make it bigger as a community shed so men can potter around and not be alone. They could do some basic woodwork and fix toasters and the grandkids bike, nothing too special, the main thing was all getting together for smoko (morning tea) for a chat.
Times have changed and we are now a throw-away society, and not much is made from wood and quality wood is expensive and difficult to source.
Electronics have become our thinking machines and number crunchers and electronics now power robotics in factories to such a degree, for example;
You can buy an electronic speed controlled hand tool much cheaper than a stick of quality wood.
Mature aged people, no matter what they want, mostly have enough money to go and buy it, so they do.
The other problem with woodwork is our retirement aged population needs to downsize their possessions not increase them. So there is no point in making dining room tables and other bigger wood projects.
Computers and their ilk have killed off card games and board games but it still exists as a pastime for old men in old movies. However, the Man-Cave concept is here to stay and is generally thought of as a retreat for men, a Man Cave is a man’s place to keep big boyz toys and to entertain mates.
Specification of a Pop-Up Shed
The object is to maximise Men’s Shed benefits and minimise mindless effort and costs.
www.meetup.com can be used to notify members and does a good job with automatic notifications and recruitment. Email is of course good too, so I recommend that meetup.com and email are used for what suits best.
Flying Minutes (FM)
Flying minutes is a buzzword for decision making by a committee on the run via email thereby reducing delays in decision making and not wasting face to face meeting time. If it is too hard for a FM then of course it requires a face to face meeting.
A weekly meetup can be held to simulate the workplace “smoko” (morning tea). Depending on choice and weather the smoko should be held in a pleasant “neutral place” not someone’s house. A park is good with a BYO everything and a coffee shop might be good too.
The weekly meetup is not a formal meeting format it is the opposite.
Traditionally monthly meetings are held on the 1, 2, 3 or 4th ****day of the month but by using www.meetup.com who do automatic notifications by emai,l it is not necessary to lock it in that way. The monthly meeting could be on different week nights and could even be replaced by 7 or 8 meetings per year. This would help find enough interesting guest speakers.
SIGs (Special Interest Groups)
The members can establish their special interest groups, my shed has had photography and music SIGs but both have fizzled but they could re-emerge with new members. Art and writing and fishing are popular in the general community so SIGs for them could be worth consideration.
Quiet Hands-on activities
There are some quiet hands on activities in wood, metal and plastics that are suited noise-wise, to an urban area.
Leatherwork is Ok but leather and fittings are expensive so product might have to be sold.
Woodwork can be downsized to wood turned pens and jewellery boxes and decorative items using small (tame) lathes and very safe scroll sawing machines (search Intarsia and scroll sawing on the net)
Metal and plastics can be worked quietly into small items like jewellery.
Silicon moulds can be made and castings can be made from pewter and a range of plastics. This is ideally suited to things like fishing lures, badges and bigger jewellery and decorative items.
I recommend doing a deal with another shed for use of noisy machinery and maybe find a room local room or under a building somewhere for the smaller craft sized machinery as described above..
New age Big Boyz Toys
Radio controlled everything is going gangbusters so if you want to impress the grand-kids and you have disposable income then why not get you and your shed mates involved.
Sport and exercise activity
Sport is more fun than mindless exercise and there is all the usual exercise stuff that everyone knows about.
Men’s Shed sport should be suitable for the age group and a range of disabilities so that comes down to,
Codes of bowls = Lawn Bowls, Bocce and Petanque
Codes of mallet sports = Croquet and Gateball
Barefoot bowlers are being encouraged by bowls clubs so a ring around the local clubs will tell you what your options are.
Bocce and Petanque
Bocce and Petanque courts are much cheaper than bowling greens to establish and maintain.
Bocce is basically a round ball-rolling target sport with some throwing to remove opposition shot balls. Petanque uses smaller balls than Bocce and is a ball throwing game that is played often by many, wherever the French have colonised.
Extreme Bocce and Petanque
Younger players in particular have found that it is more fun to play these games on extremely rough terrain rather than what is considered ideal surfaces. Extreme can be played in parks and bushland and in and around creeks and water courses even in quarries.
Croquet can be played extreme
Croquet courts are expensive like lawn bowls greens but extreme croquet is emerging as a valid game, see Extreme Bocce above.
Gateball is taking over as the biggest organised game with 12 million playing in over 40 countries and districts.
Gateball cannot be played extreme but can be played on reasonably level grassed or non-grassed areas. In Australia, Gateball has only been played on manicured croquet lawns but its popularity elsewhere stems from Gateball being playable on low maintenance areas ½ the size of Croquet courts.
Gateball is an easy get together (5 person teams) mallet sport played multi- generational and both genders. Gateball is instant start, but skills can be honed and tactics are everything.
All Gateball requirements can be bought ex Brisbane at reasonable prices, free parks and playing fields can be used and teams of 5 are not that difficult to get together.
I am currently trying to get a worthy charity to set up a Gateball register so teams can find other teams to play Gateball in the park (for a gold coin donation to the charity). You need 3 teams to play, two play while the third team officiates. Games are timed to last ½ hour.
You can start to learn about Gateball on Croquet courts here http://gateball.com.au/?page_id=99
More info and videos are available. I have collated some.
Bus trips and tours
Men’s sheds do bus trips and tours, some men like it others can’t be bothered.
I have mentioned more than enough options to establish a “Pop-Up” shed, with something for everyone.
It is good that all sheds do not do the same things so men can choose their closest shed with the activity package that suits them best.
AMSA supplies an insurance package that may suit your activity package and it is 4 separate policies see their site for details. You may find that you do not need insurance or you can’t get the cover to protect your activities.
*This article originally appeared on the shed online.