Saturday, November 16, 2013

Another visit to Urban Boatbuilders, Minneapolis USA.

While in the USA in November 2010, I was pleased to visit an organisation called "Urban Boatbuilders" in a suburban shopfront in Minneapolis. This was another fantastic project I had checked out at that time, in my quest to explore youthworking programs which use woodwork as the primary tool to work with the young people. The Mission of Urban Boatbuilders is:  Positive Youth Development through the Building and Use of Boats.

Wooden boats are a big thing in the USA, unlike Australia. I guess they have tens of thousands of inland lakes and waterways, so that must help, plus a much longer tradition of wooden boatbuilding.
One of the views inside the workshop.
 Three years later, wile staying with our friends in Minneapolis again, I contacted Urban Boatbuilders for another visit. Great to see that they are still there! Not all organisations survived the GFC and subsequent belt-tightening.

I braved the traffic on a deadly treadly, riding on the "wrong" side of the road, and fudging it at the traffic lights (you can turn right at a red light) - or chickening out at the lights and pushing it over the pedestrian walks! It was only about 3 or 4 miles to ride, but the wind chill on the bike was pretty extreme! 
What a great idea. Housed in an outer shop of a shopping centre.
Thanks to staff members Mark and Sarah for kindly giving me some of their administrative time as I asked a lot of questions about their operation and programs. I only had a short window, as did they, but I was really glad to see that they are still doing wonderful stuff : "Building youth, one boat at a time".

I recall that when I visited in 2010, I stuck around for quite a while getting involved with a bunch of kids who were doing the maths and planning for the setting out of the ribs for the hull of a small sailing craft they were making. This visit I was there before the kids arrived after school, so I didn't get any action shots.

In 2010, I was inspired by the idea of running such a program in a shopping centre shop, and inspired by what they were doing using wooden boat building as a medium to work positively and creatively with young people. Even then I was thinking about running programs from a shop front. That concept has still not left me.

In 2013, I was very pleased to see that Urban Boatbuilders continues to be there, and continue to do great things with young people. I also remain inspired by what they are going in such a relatively small premises.

What a wonderful program! Keep up the great work.

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