Local men's group replicates concept made popular in Australia
A local resident is trying to bring a men's group movement, which has grown substantially in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, to the Okanagan.
Art Post, founder of Okanagan Men's Sheds, first heard about the men's sheds concept from his daughter-in-law, who is from Australia.
The idea is to give men in the community—especially those who are retired—a group to meet with regularly to work on individual or group projects, but also to socialize with other group members.
Those projects may include boat building, car restoration, wood carving, leather work, cooking classes or photography. But, according to Post, there isn't a limit to the possibilities.
"The whole secret success (of) it is that the guys who are in the room decide what it is that their group is going to be doing," said Post.
According to Post, shed is a term that refers to work shop in Australia.
He said men's sheds organizations can provide health benefits as they allow members to be social, productive and maintain an active body and mind.
"The worst thing that guys can do, and it's all too common, is just sit in front of the TV," said Post.
"This can…give them an alternative. Instead of sitting there with a bottle of beer in front of the TV, watching reruns of old movies, (they can) get out and make birdhouses for the conservation group, or just do something with the guys to keep busy."
Internationally, men's sheds associations have adopted the slogan, "shoulder to shoulder," meaning men are often better at expressing their feelings while working on a project, shoulder to shoulder with others, than they are talking about those feelings face to face.
The Australian Men's Shed Association's website suggests a lack of communication with others may result in loneliness, depression or even relationship breakdown.
"Becoming a member of a men's shed gives a man that safe and busy environment…in an atmosphere of old-fashioned mateship," states the website.
According to Post, there are more than 1,000 sheds currently operating throughout Australia.
The Okanagan Men's Sheds Association was formed and registered as a non-profit society in B.C. in July 2013. The group is in the process of applying for certification as a charitable organization with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Currently, there is only one fully operational men's shed in Canada, which is located in Winnipeg; however, Post said several others are in the process of starting up men's sheds in various cities across the country.
The biggest challenge for the local organization has been finding adequate funding and gathering members.
"What we've done in the past year especially is reach out through the support groups and health authorities and municipal levels…do they see a need for this type of an operation in B.C.?
"And it's an overwhelming: Yes. Lots of enthusiastic acceptance…but nobody has put any dollars in the bank yet."
The long-term goal is to have a set location with permanent equipment, and a group of men that come and go as they please while working on projects that may be beneficial to the community.
The group will be hosting a meet and great Thursday at Branch 55 Senior Centre on Gray Road in Rutland from 1 to 4 p.m.
For more information about Okanagan Men's Sheds, contact Art Post at 250-717-1575, or firstname.lastname@example.org.