Valley Community Workspace (VCW) is a co-working hub for sustainable, innovative ventures, skill-sharing, creativity and community-led development and education, based at 11 Allen Street in North East Valley, Dunedin.
This former automotive workshop and museum was no longer in use in 2015. When the owner, Matt Jennings, offered it to Oil Free Otago for electric car conversions, they put the word out to other local community-minded individuals and groups to share the space, an opportunity that was eagerly seized!
In the first 6 months, we established a governance group, got to know each other better, become an incorporated society, significantly spruced up the old garage space, and sought out other community-minded, ‘green’ innovators to join us.
From the beginning, we loved the idea of being a ‘do-ocracy’. We’ve held regular bike fix-its/skill-sharing workshops, and given people the chance to try out electric and recumbent bikes, or take a smooth ride in an electric car. Thanks to Makerspace we’ve seen how 3-D printers can turn a ‘waste’ product (whey) into specific parts, enabling ‘broken’ equipment to be fixed. We’ve promoted converting cars to electric, and invited people to join workshops to learn about what’s involved.
In April 2016 the Valley Project, a charity in NEV, bought the building, thanks to a grant from the Department of Internal Affairs. The VCW’s rent payments now go back to the Project to help support the community workers and local newsletter. The DIA also granted some money for improvements, strengthening the west wall, providing a wheelchair accessible toilet, and hot water to the laundry sink. In mid-2018 building work is still underway, primarily to fix leaks and upgrade the electrical system.
In April 2018, weaver Christine Keller, moved in, bringing colour, texture and a beautifully designed and built warm space to the far end of the VCW. Weaving classes are now underway at her Loom Room. The central space between Christine’s weaving area and the main garage, adjoining James’ Control Focus workshop space, is in the process of becoming a community sheet metal workshop – with a permanent work bench, trolley table, spot welding machine and a bending machine. These will be available for public use but also will be used for building Control Focus battery boxes for electric vehicles and solar photo-voltaic installations.
We are excited to see our vision of a shared workspace where we can build and promote the kinds of projects and values needed for a fairer, low carbon future – is happening!