Volunteers serve food at St. John's Kitchen.

Community Sharing in Action

The Working Centre, a community skill-building organization in Kitchener, describes how they put their sharing philosophy to work.

One of the organizations listing in our sharing directory is The Working Centre, located around the corner from our office in downtown Kitchener. They were so excited about our Sharing issue that they offered to share more details about the work they do – read on and get inspired!

One of the organizations listing in our sharing directory is The Working Centre, located around the corner from our office in downtown Kitchener. They were so excited about our Sharing issue that they offered to share more details about the work they do – read on and get inspired!

It was with great delight that The Working Centre read Ours is Better Than Yours in the latest issue of A\J. The Working Centre has been building a culture of sharing for more than 30 years. By sharing resources, learnings, connections and tools (both literal and figurative), we all benefit.

The Working Centre’s main projects give people access to tools to create their own work, alongside continuous learning and co-operation. The Working Centre organizes its projects into six areas: the Job Search Resource Centre, St. John’s Kitchen, Community Tools, Access to Technology, Affordable Supportive Housing and the Waterloo School for Community Development.

While all of The Working Centre’s initiatives have sharing embedded into their fabric, several of the Working Centre’s Community Tools projects align directly with the sharing initiatives outlined in A\J’s Sharing issue.

What are Community Tools?

Community Tools projects give people access to tools that support local producing and trading, so they can live more affordably and cooperatively, and don’t have to work in isolationWorkers and volunteers work together to produce the Community Tools’ service or product. Here are some examples:

Sharing bike repair tools is part of the cycle at Recycle Cycles
Sharing bike repair tools is partof the cycle at Recycle Cycles

Recycle Cycles:  “As a community bicycle shop, Recycle Cycles focuses on promoting cycling by making bicycle purchase, maintenance and repair as accessible and affordable as possible,” said Jesse Robertson, one of the project coordinators. “Individuals can reserve space in the shop to work on their bicycles with the assistance of a volunteer, and to use the many bicycle-specific tools available,” Robertson continues, adding that the use of the shop space and access to the tools is free of charge.

In addition to helping people fix their own bikes, Recycle Cycles also offers inexpensive reconditioned bikes, as well as new and refurbished bike parts. Entering the shop, you can feel the energy of the place – in 2013 Recycle Cycles volunteers contributed 5,400 hours, working on 4,892 bicycles and rebuilding and distributing 600 refurbished bicycles.

Maurita’s Kitchen is a community kitchen where workers and volunteers learn and laugh as they prepare fresh vegetarian fare that is served at The Working Centre’s Queen St. Commons Café, and for catering orders that grace the tables at many events. Volunteers learn how to prepare – and artfully display ­­­­­– salads, sandwiches, soups, entrées, and desserts. Served on the side at Maurita’s Kitchen are informal language classes for new Canadians, work experience for people looking to get into the food business and a community built on a common love of food.

Community Access Bicycles in Kitchener, ON

Community Access Bikeshare (CAB) is an innovative project designed to provide affordable public access to bicycles. Bikeshare members access CAB bicycles at convenient locations in our community, using the bikes to get to a meeting, run errands or meet a friend. Involving workers, volunteers and bikeshare members, CAB contributes towards a culture of sustainable transportation that has a focus on inclusivity.

BarterWorks and Local Exchange members share their skills to create business opportunities 
BarterWorks and Local Exchange members share skills
to create business opportunities

Barterworks and the Local Exchange: BarterWorks is a local trading organization of individuals, businesses, and community groups. BarterWorks members trade goods and services through the exchange of barter currency or a combination of barter currency and Canadian dollars within the Local Exchange network.

The Local Exchange network has a diverse range of businesses and individuals offering goods and services including construction, accounting services, legal services, childcare, graphic design, clothing, food, health-care, entertainment, computer services and much more. Local Exchange and BarterWorks members share their expertise with one another while building possibilities for new businesses.

Other sharing highlights at the Working Centre:

Community and conversation take place daily
at St. John’s Kitchen 

The busy Job Search Resource Centre at 58 Queen St. S. features Public Access Computers used 1,000 times per month.

St. John’s Kitchen shares 300 meals every weekday, involving 100 volunteers (80% of whom are also patrons), and using food that would otherwise have been wasted. This bright, inviting space also hosts public access showers and laundry facilities.

  • Join the bikeshare’s mailing list (one email per month from April-Nov) by sending an email to bikeshare@theworkingcentre.org
  • Follow the Bikeshare on Twitter: @CABikeshare (and retweet some of the bikeshare tweets!)
  • Use the Campaign hashtag #15daysforbikeshare
  • Think about volunteering with the bikeshare!

During the campaign, anyone who donates money, joins CAB, volunteers or spreads the word on Facebook and Twitter will be entered into a draw to win a free cooking class at the Kitchener Market!

Jane Snyder provides support for the Community Tools Projects at The Working Centre.