I’ve already started my “stone soup” plan for a community center. Over the years I have dreamed about a special place for people to do things together. I love artistic and other creative activities, amateur science projects, and anything fun and brainy. Not only have I dreamed about it, but I have gathered equipment and materials. There’s enough to be the stone to start the “stone soup” of a real place.
Arts and Crafts
I have all sorts of art supplies: paints, brushes, markers, papers, coloring books, art instruction books, clay, rolls of paper. For crafts, we can start with model kits, ribbons, glitter, sheets of foam core. For less traditional but perhaps more fun activities, I’ll supply a big “boodle box” of odds & ends and “junk.” A special part of my collection is kaleidoscopes and materials for making them, one of many ways that art can overlap with science.
We’ll have my science books, from standard texts to books about the strange corners, different views, and outer fringes. The science fiction books will be in a different section. For hands-on and group activities, I’ll provide science kits, educational toys, microscopes, magnets of many shapes and sizes, and strange things you may have a hard time believing even when you see them in action!
You will also find strange things in my books on optical illusions (another connection with art). With some materials that go with the books, you will be able to create your own illusions and see some that can’t be produced on paper. We can also see what lenses, color filters, and other optical materials can do with light. There will even be lasers, a plasma ball, a Lava Lamp and other special lights.
For those interested in electronics, computers, and robotics, I have a lot to share in those areas. They can use the many old toys and electronic devices for salvaging parts and tinkering. I have educational electronic kits for kids, plus advanced trainers, breadboards and old computers. Of course I also have books on electronics, from circuitry to robotics. My old computers are still good for learning basic computer programming. I even have a number of robotic toys and radio-controlled “robots.” Oh, I almost forgot to mention the solar kits and solar-powered toys and gadgets.
One of my favorite subjects is aerodynamics. In addition to the books on aviation I’ve collected, I have quite a few supplies for experimenting with miniature flying things. There’s balsa wood, foam sheets, paper, rubber bands, plastic propellers, etc., for building model gliders and planes. I could lend out my radio-controlled helicopter toys, including quad copters (drones), and a model rocket kit.
I’ve studied French formally and am using the online DuoLingo site to brush up on that and learn some Spanish. For the community center, I have books, CDs, and other materials in those languages, and a few in other languages, too. I think it would be great to have language clubs for getting together to help us learn, and practice what we’ve learned.
I love music! I’ll share a bunch of old song books, hymnals, and educational music books. I can also share some electronic keyboards, a couple of toy “electronic guitars,” a child-sized real guitar, a small accordion, a student’s violin, and some other music makers. I think it would be fun to form a “junk band” using musical instruments made from household items, plumbing materials, toys, and tools.
I would like the center to have a micro-zoo, using aquaria, cages and accessories I have, featuring not only fish but crabs, shrimp, frogs, reptiles, insects, and small mammals. It would be educational and a good way to introduce young kids to caring for pets.
My collection includes toys and games for all ages! Most of them have an educational, creative, or brainy side. I’ve got construction toys, magnetic construction sets, marble tracks, puzzles, and brain-teasers.
I can also supply materials that might be used later, if there’s not enough room or interest at first. Once we have enough space and interested people, I can share tools and materials for a Maker Space, and equipment (from a Wii to a punching bag) for an exercise room.
So What’s Stopping Us?
Right now, I could go to different places and groups, using some of these materials for educational lectures and activities. For an actual center, we need someone to provide the pot for our stone soup: an empty store or similar space, or we will have to raise the money to rent one. Then we’ll need shelves and perhaps bins to store the materials, and tables and chairs. Anything else? I would very much like to have a master “cook,” someone with knowledge and experience in running a business or non-profit organization. That doesn’t sound like too much to ask, and once we have all that, we can have the first version of our community center before long!