Today I worked to declutter what is the area I’m setting aside for teaching autists and support workers, teachers and so on. Currently, it’s as much my research area as my apprentice’s workshop but it will be nice to have everything set up and clearly designated. I’ve set up the area where a cluster of workbenches, clamp rack, and sharpening station will sit more permanently from now on. It’s an interim step until we can raise the finances to take care of the structural changes we yet need. The important thing is that any autist who comes to learn and apprentice with me will feel a sense of belonging and a level of permanence they might not get otherwise elsewhere. Belonging brings ownership and ownership security and safety. If I can remove uncertainty from the equation I think the settledness deeded to pursue creativity will flourish all the more.
I see projects being completed every week these days. A box, a wall shelf, table and such. Imagine how the first half a dozen autists will feel when their projects come into being working at the workbenches. I have seen it happening for some time now and it is so inspiring.
Because different people work in the space on a regular basis there is no sense setting up separate sharpening facilities every time to sharpen, so I put together a central sharpening station to take care of the need. It works well for everyone including me. This one is 34″ high and measures 24″ by 20″. I had a leftover laminated top for ten years since I built the school workbenches which is ideal, and if you recall the collapsable assembly table we made for woodworking masterclasses years ago, well I just adopted the legs for that and it works perfectly to give a little heft to the whole thing. I ultimately want to build six more of the plywood workbenches and then use the tools I accumulated for the woodworking school when I first began teaching here in the UK. I want to provide a full set of tools for any student that cannot afford tools and the tools will become theirs to own at the end of their 2 years.
Part of the plan is to install a mezzanine floor above the existing workshop area to take care of storage that we currently have down below. Then we can start thinking about break room, computer area, and rest area all nearby. There’s no hurry on replacing the benches as we have six to use already. What’s important is developing the space and customising it for each autist to grow into. What is nice is having the benefit of the building to be in. It’s very nice. We have an electrician booked to install additional lighting which again will need customising to suit each individual by their benches.
I’ll keep you updated on progress.