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

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