Building a Retirement Community
The Hommes en action project, the brainchild of the Centre du plateau, offers its members an informal gathering place in which to forge ties through activities of their choice, based on their interests and areas of expertise.
Shoulder to shoulder
Project coordinator Ann Mitchell, whose community involvement dates back several years, was quick to identify a prevailing problem in Montréal: There is little or no participation in community activities among men.
Men nearing retirement age often see their social circles shrink considerably, and they tend to have difficulty rebuilding those networks.
“Community-based activities are not designed to meet their needs. While women are comfortable with chatting face to face over coffee, men prefer to work shoulder to shoulder.”
Noticing that there was a problem, Ms. Mitchell did some research and discovered the Men’s sheds model, which originated in Australia and has since taken root in North America and elsewhere. These work spaces revolve around more spontaneous conversation, with less in the way of direction, in the context of activities that promote enjoyment and a sense of achievement.
A project in the image of its members
The project’s main strength lies in its flexibility and collaborative approach.
“Each Men’s Shed is in the image of its members. The men are the ones who propose activities, and they’re more inclined, therefore, to participate and put their expertise to good use.”
Hommes en action activities are highly diverse, therefore. Members have access to on-site equipment (e.g., billiards, darts, Wi-Fi, tablets, computers) to go along with member-led activities, including cycling, badminton, photography, knitting, museum visits, cabinetmaking, computing, and crafts. Earlier this month, the organization even presented a 3D printing workshop!
A fast-growing project
Hommes en action has seen its membership grow from four to five after it opened in 2016 to the current 20 or so members. The members show up alternately, according to their availability and the activities that interest them, for an average of eight to 10 participants per activity.
The organization hopes to reach a membership of about 40, which would allow it to offer a wider variety of activities simultaneously.
Know a man who might be interested in this project?
Hommes en action groups meet Monday afternoons (1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.) and Thursday mornings (9:30 a.m. to noon). Don’t miss the visit to the police museum on March 22 or the sugaring-off activity on April 7!
See the Projects et activities section for details (in French only).