In the “Meet our Starters” series we invite people who start new ideas in their communities to share their stories with the ChangeX community: What gets them excited about an idea, how are they hoping it will benefit the community, how do they make it happen.
Norman Kunselman is starting a Men’s Sheds in his community in Roseville. It’s the XXth Shed that is up and running in Minnesota, where the idea of a meeting space for men keeps spreading.
Why did you choose to start a Men’s Shed?
Social isolation for older adults is a major concern for many people in the Roseville area. There are many nonprofits and civic groups working on the issue. I’m with The Roseville Area Senior Program (RASP), where we want to offer community-based involvement that not only addresses social isolation but also embodies good deeds, enjoyment, and education.
The Men‘s Shed organization addresses all of these and makes it inclusive by welcoming women as well. The concept that men communicate better shoulder-to-shoulder intrigued me, and after some discussions with older adults at RASP, it became apparent that there was the interest and need for a Men’s Shed in Roseville.
What’s the difference you are hoping to make in your community by running a Men’s Shed?
As the Roseville Area Men’s Shed grows and evolves, I envision this group coming together, and through their own empowerment, creating a Shed that benefits many men and women in our community.
At the same time, it can benefit the community and the Roseville Area Senior Program, and possibly programs within Roseville Area Schools.
That’s the beauty of Men’s Sheds. The imagination and creativity of the group are what becomes the foundation of each Men’s Shed. This is what makes them successful because the men and women in the Sheds feel “ownership” of their group. Every voice is heard and there is no discounting.
You’ve already hosted a couple of meetings. Have people already developed the first ideas of what to do in the Shed?
Our Men’s Shed is in the development stage. I have heard interest in the group to tour one of the member’s wood workshop in his basement where he creates wooden tractors and other items. This member has offered to open up his wood shop to other members in the future. There is talk of doing local inexpensive and free tours.
I will advocate for a reorganization of the major storeroom at RASP, and reach out to the City of Roseville for projects they may have for the Parks & Recreation department.
Tell us about something that surprised you after starting the process of setting up the Men’s Shed?
I was surprised by the ease of getting a Men’s Shed started and the assistance that we received from Phil Johnson who was passionate about getting more Men’s Sheds up and running in the Twin Cities metro area and in other parts of Minnesota. The beginning stage offers the most challenges as Men’s Sheds groups gain local recognition, and thus attract more members.
Have you been involved with any community projects before?
As coordinator of the Roseville Area Senior Program, I am indirectly involved with various community organizations and projects. One of them, the Roseville Alzheimer’s and Dementia Action Team, is committed to providing monthly presentations that are free to the community, focusing on dementia-related topics and helpful information for caregivers. Through the efforts of this group, Dementia Travel Kits have been developed, and are free to residents at the Ramsey County Libraries in Roseville and Shoreview, MN.