If you live in Montreal, you probably know the building at the corner of Colonial and Roy St., just across from Else's and the old Waldman's fish store. The building used to be a an artist workshop of some kind but has been vacant for quite a while. Most who have seen building have wanted to buy it at one time or another. I was no exception. The previous owner had been resisting to sell as he didn't want the building to be taken down and turned into condos. When Santropol Roulant came along it was just the type of buy he'd been waiting for - a local charity focusing on community, food and bicycles. What could be better. Santropol Roulant does a lot of things but their main focus is food. They grow, cook and deliver amazing food to people who have trouble getting out and about. It is mostly fuelled by local community volunteers who help grow, cook and and deliver the food to those in need. When I first moved to Montreal in 2002 I volunteered with Santropol delivering food. It was a lot of fun and I met great people. For years they've also been strengthening the community buy housing a volunteer run bike co-op. For a couple of bucks you can use use their shop and fix up your bike. They've got new and used parts, bike stands and all the fixings you need to keep your velo on route. You can even store your project bike there while you rebuild it. They bought this sweet building and had it fixed up to suit their needs. They recently moved into the new location and are even more equipped to expand their operation. They decided to keep a lot of the original graffiti on the walls so the place looks great. Earlier this year was walking by the original Santropol location, having the urge to build to cool stuff for cool people, and thought I'd pop my head in to see if I could help them out building something. I had a quick chat with Patrick, the volunteer coordinator there and explained that I love building stuff, I was an engineer and wanted to help out. Right then the executive director Rayna walked in and said, "Oh, you're the guy the built the Igloo Sauna!". (We'd met before at a friends cottage party where I'd made a sauna out of snow and hot rocks from the fire). So, I headed off to the their McGill growing facility with Tim. My first task was to build some portable greenhouses to help young plants get used to the great outdoors. That went well and was a lot of fun.
In the new location, Santropol was going to need a couple things made and I was all over it. First off, I hooked up with Richard who was the summer guardian of the bike shop. We worked together to design the new bike shop, trying to make the most of the new space. The previous shop had been in a basement and the new space was a lot larger so it was pretty exiting. We decided on making several mini work stations to get the most out of the space. We spent a couple of days working on it together and it all turned out well. I've since been in the shop several times to work on my bike and take advantage of the great space.
The bike shop worked out well but it was just a warm up. Next up, the roof top terrace! There are two roof tops on the new facility. One of them is to become a green roof, sometime in 2011, and the other is perfect for a multi-purpose terrace. 1600 sq ft of area was available to grow food and house charity events. I took reigns on the project and planned out the construction and a small group of pro volunteers showed up to make it all happen. The weather was great so we got to work on our tan and spend two weeks working off all of that summer beer. A special thanks to Roni, Nicki, Doug and Marie-Eve for making it all happen. Reuven was kind enough to lend us his power-saw as well. Over the next year they'll be growing food up there and eventually putting up a green house. If you're in the Montreal area and you're looking to meet some great people while helping out the community I strongly suggest swinging by Santropol Roulant, tell them Jesse sent you.