Browsing Category

Better Build

Better Build workshop two gems

December 1, 2014
Better Build workshop 2 feedback

Team Better Build gathering feedback from Better Build workshop two participants.

Awesome feedback from the second Better Build workshop at the Wattle Glen Scout Hall! Here are the ‘gems’ we gathered from our group of makers at the end of the day…

‘Thank you for the opportunity! What a lovely day – so much inspiration and ideas! Can’t wait to make another planter.’

‘Loved learning little tricks with woodwork to make life easier! Excellent workshop, beautiful souls, thanks so much!’

‘Great day, thanks! I loved doing something at a leisurely pace instead of rushing. Great company too.’

‘Great day, great venue, perfect weather, wonderful wisdom, great connections, WE MADE STUFF!’

‘I have spent so much time looking at other people’s creations and having ideas but it’s very hard to start. Today I learnt some basic skills which will be a great help and how I hope to continue. Thanks!’

‘It was an amazing day and had lots of great creations.’

‘Make sure everyone experiences the joy of power tools. This was fantastic! Thanks so much!’

‘Delightful people, ideas, opportunities – thanks.’

‘Outstanding event. Learnt new stuff about making stuff. looking forward to the next one. Also great venue and lunch.’

‘Great work guys – maybe a few more tools and coloured paint.’ [Righto Miss Paint Bomb - we're onto it!]

‘Wonderful people doing wonderful things. What a day in so many a way! Make sure I’m on the list for next time.’

‘Inspiration, skills learnt, positive family and community activity. The children are hooked, will need more of this! Thank you.’

‘There are so many smart ways to pull apart a pallet! Thank you!’

‘Really fun, lovely people. When’s the next one?’

The next one is being organised right now – we’ll let you know the details soon…

Better Build workshop two

November 21, 2014

We’re back! Building on the success of our first workshop at Edendale Farm in October, we’ll be making smaller decorative projects again. So yes, there will be sandpaper and paint to play with…

But this time we’ll also be crowd building ‘wicking’ planter boxes from old shipping pallets. We’re giving two large ones to the the Scouts Association for use outside the Wattle Glen Scout Hall.

With twenty people in the booked out workshop we definitely need more power tools on hand. So we asked the team at Diamond Valley Mitre Ten if they could sponsor us with a few extra drills and sanders and…they said yes! Nice.

The workshop’s vegetarian lunchtime feast will be supplied by the good folk at Pepper’s Paddock General Store. They’re just 100 metres from the Scout Hall…so local it’s ridiculous.

Last but not least, we’ll have extra volunteer facilitators on the day: there’s sustainable builder Paul Pitrone, local permaculture trainer Drew Barr and creative maker Kirk Slywa.

All of us are gifting our time to help our novice makers experience the joy of making things by hand.


You can never have too much paint…

November 13, 2014

…and other things we learned from staging the first Better Build workshop.

We did it, we got the ‘show on the road’ as part of Nillumbik Shire Council’s Practically Green Festival. Here’s what we learned, how we plan on improving, and some of my favourite shots from the day.

So what happened?

Our minimum viable product (a.k.a. the green light) was securing a non-profit space at the Festival. We got this in place about a month out from the event, which meant organising…fast! We settled on running two short workshops making simple decorative items from the wood stock we’d already collected. Craig fashioned Better Build signage and an information stand from reclaimed materials. All in one afternoon too (the man is indeed a ‘mover and maker’).

Our meet and greet volunteer from Streetbank, Chamali, behind the hand made workshop info desk.

Our meet and greet volunteer from Streetbank, Chamali, behind the handmade workshop info desk.

The night before the Festival my inner ‘anxious octopus’ was on a rampage. Tentacles of worry flailed every which way in my brain: had we salvaged enough materials? Would anyone want to take part? Was the space going to be safe enough? (I mean…sweet jeebus – we’re talking kids on POWER TOOLS!) 

Better Build workshop Practically Green Festival

As it turned out my worries were unfounded. We had no problems with people wanting to take part in the workshops – in fact we were a little swamped with interest! We’d planned to work with around ten people (five per workshop). At the end of the day we estimated around thirty people had (safely) tried their hand at making something.

Better Build Workshop 1 projects

Here’s some of the things that seemed to work:

  • Getting people straight onto the job of making things. Don’t sit around talking about it, do it!
  • Having a painting area was gold. This is where projects were personalised and I loved how the kids were so free with their creative expression.
  • Giving people a chance to try a new skill and take home a finished project – it feels good saying ‘I made this’.
  • Being relaxed and inclusive about people joining in throughout the workshops. A group of people on power tools is like honey to the bees in an interactive Festival like Practically Green.


Here’s what we’d do differently:

  • Make sure we have enough facilitators to comfortably host the workshop spaces. With only two of us managing the power drills and painting areas, we were busy all day and didn’t really have time for a break (the rest of Festival passed me by in a blur).
  • Have back up drills to cover a full day of workshops! A few of our patient novice makers had to wait around for the drills to charge before they could finish their masterpieces. Equipment fail = frustration.

Overall, such a great way to kickstart this project and test our ideas for Better Build. A day just full of small, satisfying moments.

hand made wooden flower pot