Making it Matters
Making it Matters was conceived as part of Luminate, Scotland’s creative ageing festival. During October each year Luminate offers events across Scotland that celebrate creativity, share stories, and explore what ageing means to all of us. Luminate was keen to include a making project within its 2014 programme, and also to expand the intergenerational strand of their work.
Luminate approached MAKLab, which is a charity and social enterprise, set up as a digital fabrication lab to support and promote all aspects of digital making with our members. Together we wanted to highlight the creativity which underpins design and making, and facilitate an event which would allow different generations to come together and share their enthusiasm for making.
The Westhill Men’s Shed was identified by Luminate as a potential partner for this project, as their commitment to supporting men’s making skills is a good match for the work of MAKLab. Men’s Sheds grew from the idea that men like spending time tinkering, repairing, and making things while socialising with others who have similar interests. Many too are interested in working on projects that will aid the community and be of use to other people. The Men’s Shed movement started in Australia, but is now flourishing in Scotland, and the Westhill Shed was the first to be established here.
The choice of Aberdeen as a location for the project was also informed by the fact that Aberdeen has a striving student population in the fields of design and engineering underpinned by the oil industry, whose culture can sometimes be completely disconnected from the older generations living in the area. The MAKLab team acted as a connector between these younger and older communities, who are often isolated from each other. The hope was that by bringing together these two groups with diverse experiences of traditional making and more recent digital fabrication technologies we could create the right conditions for both groups to work together, exchange knowledge and foster relationships.
Choosing a charity with an already existing relationship with the Westhill Men’s Shed had the added bonus that if any ideas came up during the brainstorm period of the design brief that weren’t realistic to achieve in 2 days, the Men’s Shed could pick up those ideas at a later time as they continued to work with SensationAll.
Benefits for the Community
*A greater understanding between the two groups, which leads to the break-down of stereotyping and negativity
*The landscaping of a garden; and the building of a shed for members of the SensationAll community to use
*An interest between the groups to work together for future projects
*A greater respect between the groups
Benefits for the Younger People
*The younger people were able to us the experience gained as research for the community-based component of their degree course
*A better understanding of the abilities and experiences for the older participants
*Allowed the younger participants to learn traditional skills
*Allowed the young people to bring a fresh perspective to the project
Benefits for the Older People
*The breaking-down of stereotyping of younger people
*Helped dispel isolation
*Gave the older people the ability to utilize their skills again
*Allowed the older participants to learn new technology skills
Luminate solely funded the project. In-kind funding came from MAKLab
Evaluation was conducted by verbal feedback; emails; and an on line questionnaire
The Men’s Shed participants were keen that the design challenge should result in something that was of value to their local community. They highlighted their existing relationship with the charity SensationAll who operate a community centre that supports disabled children. SensationAll are having a new outdoor play area modelled at present, which they hope to turn into a multi-sensory garden for the children and their families to enjoy. It was agreed that the design brief for the event would focus on outdoor installations that would become a part of the multi-sensory garden.
Scottish NPF Objectives
This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).