The SOS (Sharing Our Stuff) Resource Center/Library


Today’s focus ~ The S.O.S. Resource Library – with the acronym S.O.S. standing for “Sharing Our Stuff.” Here’s a back-of-the-napkin sketch from early on in my concept development:

Those shapes that look like modern art versions of hot dog buns are actually seating areas ~ look closer ~ see the loveseats, armchairs and coffee tables centered on an area rug... Okay, now you've got it...


Now, it’s time for the tour! Let’s take a closer look at the space:
The Book Case

FORM: “Floor to ceiling open-shelving will be made from reclaimed barn board…” If that sounds familiar, you must have read about The Workshop! Providing balance and symmetry, the book case will mirror the general look of the open-shelving on the opposite side of the overall space. Add a classic old library ladder to the scene, serving both form and function (given my limited reach at 5’2″).

FUNCTION: I know it’s a stretch, but the book case will, stay with me here, hold books. Not just any books. Much like the donated clutter in The Workshop, the collection will be comprised of donated books, books that were intended to do more than gather dust, both in the mind of the authors and the owners. Non-fiction titles on topics ranging from self-help and relationships to hobbies, creative interests and art, to career choices and successful business practices. If you are anything like me, you’ll have plenty of books to donate while keeping a treasured few at home. The collection is already off to a good start given my own personal contribution of a couple of hundred books of my own, begging the question, “Where did I manage to keep them in the first place?”

The Seating Area

FORM: The Sharing and Learning Center will be comprised of a handful of individual seating areas, each of which will include an assortment of loveseats, armchairs, coffee and/or end tables, in combinations that are aesthetically pleasing. The result will be a whimsical, eclectic, inviting space that welcomes visiting members to take a load off (both literally and figuratively). The pieces will be one of a kind as they will be the product of older solid pieces of furniture (the kind with “good bones” that they “just don’t make any more!”) decked out in sharp new fabrics or funky retro threads.

FUNCTION: The seating area will be used in a number of ways including casual, unplanned gabfests among friends new and old, to planned visits for like-minded folks to share their latest ideas or plans for an upcoming event. Individual members will find at least one cozy spot to curl up all alone, content with a book on a new topic of interest, the latest magazine or his or her own laptop. The seating areas will be ever-changing, as newly recovered pieces are brought in and lovingly restored pieces are purchased by members or guests (non-members) who have just the right space at home for a single piece or an entire grouping.

The File Cabinets

FORM: A filing cabinet is a filing cabinet, this is true… Then again, when we put the Time Well Spent spin on a filing cabinet via paint, an outer shell of reclaimed wood or some other whimsical “dressing,” the file cabinets will serve to add to the creative vibe of the space as well as the more mundane purpose of organizing stuff.

FUNCTION: Regarding the “mundane purpose of organizing stuff,” the whole paper clutter topic is anything but mundane. Indeed, I’ve spent the last several years attacking paper clutter, with varying degrees of failure! The constant toting and shuffling of papers on a variety of topics only worsens the problem of disorganization. Whether focused on a personal project, new business idea or working on a volunteer event, the filing cabinets in the Sharing and Learning Center will provide a space for our members to house their key paperwork, instead of lugging it home (only to have it accidently mix and mingle with all the paperwork that seems to multiply at home).

The Corner Desk

FORM: Picture a corner nook that serves up all that might be needed to complete a written task or some focused online research… A desk, tricked out with a fun sense of character and whimsy, stocked with some “office” basics like a printer, paper, stapler, three-hole-punch… Sounds so glamorous – not! I’ll take that as a challenge to make this space as creatively inspiring as the rest of the space, even as it serves its function…

FUNCTION: For those occasions when sitting on a loveseat or settee with a laptop perched on one’s lap just doesn’t cut it, the corner desk will provide just a bit of desk space on which to spread out and organize one’s latest written creation. With all the creative energy and mission-driven activities that Time Well Spent will inspire, a corner desk available when one needs to get down to business will be a much-used addition to the Sharing and Learning Center (or whatever we choose to call it!).

Okay, that’s the end of the tour of the physical space! Put your feet up for just a few more minutes and I’ll try to complete the picture of the Sharing and Learning Center:

The Atmosphere & The Activities

To describe the atmosphere I envision in the Learning & Sharing Center, I thought it might be both fun and effective to first give some visuals of both what one might compare the space to as well as the significant differences that will exist. Here are just a few ways that I picture the space:

An inviting, informal family room minus the kids’ sneakers, dog fur and day-old snack leftovers.

A cozy old library less any sense of stodginess or elitism.

A welcoming coffee shop without the fancy beverages known as much for their lah-dee-dah names as their ridiculously expensive price tags.

An eclectic bookstore waiting to be explored but without any sense of obligation that one must make a purchase to feel comfortable in the space.

Close your eyes and let me know if you can picture it, too!

The flexibility and multi-use nature of the Learning and Sharing Center are reflective of the atmosphere and versatility of the entire physical space that will comprise Time Well Spent. The activities that take place will be largely member-driven, all sharing the same basic value set that is the foundation of Time Well Spent. I expect these values are shared by most mission-driven organizations given the basic core human values on which my vision relies, including such basics as respect, honesty, hard work, compassion and kindness.

The space will provide the opportunity for creative sharing, problem-solving, brain-storming and inspired roll-up-your-shirtsleeves hard work. Before anyone gets scared off thinking that Time Well Spent will have a heavy, weight-of-the-world-on-our-shoulders feeling, let me assure you that, on the contrary, the space will have an uplifting energy accompanied by an “A for Effort” attitude. That’s the mother in me talking, and I’m sure parents and teachers know exactly what I mean by that. For those of you who are not currently parents or teachers, it’s pretty simple…It’s about doing your own personal best on any given day, not as a comparison to the next person. It’s also about knowing that what one is able to give varies with life’s circumstances, from year to year, season to season and even day to day. It’s not about trying to keep up with the next person or inflating one’s own ego via public glory. Frankly, that just wouldn’t be time well spent, would it? It is a more humble, deeply-satisfying, authentic personal response to the obligation to live with purposeful intent and to take action in a manner that respects and honors one’s fellow man and the environment.

With that atmosphere in mind, here’s a glimpse at the activities that are likely to take place in the Learning & Sharing Center:

Personal Research, Reflection, & ReThinking

Individuals will be able to work independently on their resume, an article for the local paper, or even their first novel. Don’t forget that J.K. Rowling created the characters and storyline for the Harry Potter series at the corner coffee shop! Books will be available as a quick reference or for serious contemplation as members consider what type of perennial would best suit their garden or what new career would fulfill their need for a renewed sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Group Meetings

The seating area will also be the preferred spot for meet-ups of various Common Interest Groups, Common Challenge Support Groups, and Common Cause Groups which will come together to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and concrete plans on a given topic of mutual interest or concern. Common Interest Groups could form on any variety of topics that folks want to learn about and share including organic gardening, xeriscaping (my new favorite word- look it up!) and backyard bird-feeding. Common Challenge Support Groups would reflect those needs of the community as well. It’s no surprise that Lyme Disease, Elder Care and Parenting Teens all come to my mind! Common Cause groups might form around any number of timely causes including helping recently displaced families or understanding alternative energy sources and solutions. Watch for more information on the types of groups that ultimately form. The topics will, of course, be community-driven so feel free to chime in with your own ideas…

Guest Speakers

With so many new concepts in business, the environment, the arts and the social service sector, there is sure to be the need to find out a bit more on many a topic. Our busy schedules limit the number of new topics which we can fit in. Likewise, all it takes is the smallest hesitation to keep a person from pursuing an interest. Rather than expecting folks to go to a local Rotary Meeting, Garden Club or other existing organization, we’ll invite speakers to Time Well Spent, including speakers from such established groups, as well as individuals possessing considerable knowledge on a topic of interest. For example, I can just picture getting a wealth of information from one of the local food co-ops regarding both topics of pesticide concerns and contamination concerns when it comes to our fresh food choices.

Well, to be sure, I could go on (and on – nothing new there!). Instead, I’ll end the description of this second key space at Time Well Spent. So, that’s two main spaces described and explored, The Workshop and The Sharing and Learning Center. Next stop, The Common Space…A post for another day. The weekend awaits and local flea markets will beckon me… Having just gotten a handle on the allergic reaction to my Lyme Disease antibiotic, I will indulge in some treasure-hunting and idea-sharing in Rowley this weekend, at the famous Todd Farm Flea Market and the smaller and much newer Bittersweet Collectibles flea market that has cropped up in the yard of one of the many Route 1A antique stores, this one at the intersection of 133 and 1a. Take some time to follow your own passion this weekend. Wish me luck at mine! N.


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