Member spotlight: A shed of one's own

From the November 2015 issue of The Rotarian

Left with a deep emotional void after the loss of his wife four years ago, Ron Bowden discovered the perfect respite, a place filled with the whirring of buzz saws, the clanking of wrenches, and the listening ears of a band of brothers: his local men’s shed. An Australian phenomenon, the sheds are communal buildings equipped for light carpentry and other woodworking, bicycle repairs, or leatherwork, where men (women are welcome too) gather to tinker and socialize. Bowden, now a member of the Rotary Club of Toowoomba East, Australia, initially whiled away time at a shed sponsored by the Rotary Club of Mt. Gravatt in Brisbane before moving to Toowoomba, where he and Past District Governor Phillip Charles helped establish Toowoomba City Men’s Shed Inc., which operates two such structures on the grounds of local churches. Rotary clubs have helped ratchet up the men’s shed movement; Australia now has over 1,000, and more are coming in Great Britain, Ireland, and Canada. People can join for a nominal membership fee; honor boxes fund expenses such as tea and coffee. In 2007, during its second convention (held in a Sydney suburb named Manly, naturally), the Australian Men’s Shed Association drafted its motto from a line in a speech: “Men don’t talk face to face, they talk shoulder to shoulder.” Bowden concurs: “If the men have any problems, then they can talk about them. Ten minutes later, they’ll be working.”

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