Looking For Community? Barnstormers Could Be For You!

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Hello readers!! Lisa here. I’m behind at most everything in life right now. I’m taking classes at Denver Seminary, working and getting my two boys adjusted to school again. 🙂 I’m grateful for my readers who want to keep this blog up and running and can help out with posts. If you are interested in writing a guest post for this blog, feel free to send me your post at lisa.wink@gmail.com
Today we have a guest post from a good friend of mine who is part of a group called the Cheverly Barnstormers. It’s amazing and I hope, after reading, more people inspired will start their own barnstormers group. These are the reasons I Choose Cheverly. Thanks Aimee for the post!
There are so many ways that Cheverly residents lend each other a hand in town. CPRC coordinates two weeks of meals for families with new babies. (link: https://www.cheverlyparent.org/new-page-1) Members of the Babysitting Coop (now in its second generation!) sit for each other’s kids on a point-based volunteer swap system. (Contact Amy Gavin at amyspearsgavin@gmail.com for more info.) Countless informal swaps happen every week — rides to the Metro, lending/borrowing tools, and so much more. Did you know there are also at least two groups of friends in town who swap major home improvement projects?
The Cheverly Weekend Warriors are the brainchild of a former resident who dreamed of friends and neighbors coming together in a “barn raising” type activity to get work done, build community, and teach children practical skills and the value of community. They’ve been going strong since around 2008. Part of the purpose in forming the group was to not only help the grown-ups complete bigger projects that weren’t possible with little ones underfoot, but also to demonstrate to children that adults don’t just get together to watch children play (aka playdates) — there’s work to do!
Warriors continues to get together even as families have come and gone; as kids have gotten older and schedules more complicated, they work hard to find times that works for the most people around sports, school events, and the like. For many of the Warriors, the friends made through this group have formed the core of their Cheverly community
The Cheverly Barnstormers came together in 2015, modeled after the Warriors. This group of about seven families comes together one Saturday a month to work on home improvement projects at each family’s house. Generally the group works from 1pm through 5pm then enjoys a great meal, drink, and camaraderie into the evening.
My family and I absolutely love being part of the Cheverly Barnstormers and I asked Lisa if I could write this post to share information in case others in town would like to form their own group.
The general “rule” for Barnstormers is that at least one adult per family must participate in each Barnstormer Saturday. The host family is responsible for preparing all the materials as well as food and drink. We strongly encourage the kids to participate for at least part of the time, and no devices/screens are allowed for kids during the work time. Over the years the Barnstormers have completed many projects including: building a shed, building a flagstone patio, painting (porches, furniture, garages, etc.), cutting down SO MUCH bamboo, spreading TONS of mulch, landscaping, digging post holes for a tree house, re-screening a side porch, packing up to prepare for a kitchen renovation, and much, much more!
The members of the Barnstormers have gained so much more than just those physical improvements to their homes and property, we’ve learned new skills and gained confidence with new tools, demonstrated to our kids a strong work ethic and the meaning of community, and have developed a deep sense of commitment to one other. Each January we all go on “retreat” for a weekend and rent a huge house in the mountains or countryside to relax and “plan” for the next year.
Does this sound like something you’d like to be part of? Start your own Weekend Warriors/Barnstormers/Your Name Here group. A few tips:
1. It’s important that all members agree to treat the work days as a high priority. Outside of extreme circumstances, a minimum of one adult from each family should attend each monthly work day.
2. Consider how many families make sense — do you want to work every month, even in the winter? Or does it make more sense to work only during months when outdoor projects are possible? For example, Barnstormers have no more than 8 families because we do a lot of outdoor projects and limit our dates to March through November (and usually skip August because its too hot!).
3. The more the host family plans and has projects “shovel ready” the more work will be accomplished.
4. Think of ways for the kids to be engaged and specific projects for them to be part of or do on their own. If you have lots of young kids, one of the adult jobs for the day might be watching/engaging the children.
5. Parents decide in advance what your device/screen rules are for the workdays.
6. Hosts should plan to provide a big meal at the end of the work day — everyone will be tired and hungry!
Aimee Olivo

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