This week's column may seem a little off the beaten track, but as the weather here in the Big Land finally warms up, so does our desire to spend more time outside the house.
I am sure my thoughts will resonate with at least some portion of the population and may cause a little heated debate in others. However, that is not my intention.
We all need a little private space. Many of us utilize a spare bedroom in our house for an office (but really, it's just a bedroom with our PC, family papers, ironing board or the wife's sewing machine).
But there is something appealing to men and sheds, a place where they (men) think and act like artists and inventors. It has been said that a shed to a man is like a good handbag to a woman; a place to store what some consider to be useless and frivolous stuff?
I would argue that point and even go one step farther to state - thus my stance on this topic - that sheds are very important to maintaining healthy relationships and may even save marriages.
Am I joking? I will leave that for you to ascertain. Both men and women can benefit from this time apart. Why? Because this freedom and separate space is key to a balanced relationship. We have all heard the quote: "I need my space."
Research has shown and stated that men spend an average of 24 days a year in their shed tinkering and conducting hobbies. Additionally, eight out of 10 men say relationships are better for having that "Man Space," and ironically, six in 10 women couldn't agree with them more.
Social psychologists who have done studies regarding this issue proudly state that "it is important for men to have a space where they can call there own, be alone, uninterrupted and putter with their collections. This number increases as men get older and move into retirement."
Makes sense to me. Sometimes men, including myself, just go out into our sheds to pretend we are real mechanics and carpenters and are doing something very important. Retired men who have specific skills still like to be out in the shed and use those skills and sometimes even share those skills with their sons, sons-in-law, buddies and friends, with no instructional fees.
So now we see the additional benefit of sheds (besides saving marriages), a place for social interaction, a place for mentorship and a place to pass on knowledge and experience to advance our young people. Sheds/workshops can be designed for the experienced as well as the novice who would like the opportunity to share, one could say, a community approach.
On the Elliot Reserve, in conjunction with Auckland Council members of the band and town, council opened a community shed project in 2012 where retired volunteers can work on specific projects and pass those skills on to willing young people.
What a great way to engage our youth and create community involvement.
Another added advantage of the community shed concept is that participants sometimes are able to assist other not-for-profits with specific projects that benefit the whole community.
For example, building garbage bins for our seniors and disabled people. For all those involved in this concept, not only the opportunity to learn new skills is in the forefront, but social networking can be very helpful and help build self-esteem. They (participants) feel better about themselves and feel they are productive and valuable to our society in general. I must admit, I rather like this idea and I believe it would be a great thing to have in our community.
So first this column started off with a little fun and making light of the so-called "man cave," but to be serious for a moment, I think the concept of community sheds, if co-ordinated in the right way, can be a wonderful thing and have significant positive impacts on a community in a variety of ways.
Stan Oliver writes from Happy Valley-Goose Bay. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .