Waterside Workshop This Sunday at Aquatic Park

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday December 14, 2007

Leftover furniture scraps will be hand-crafted into dolls, trains and trucks at the annual Waterside Workshop’s Holiday Sustainability Event this Sunday. 

What started off as an offshoot of Tinker’s Workshop at Berkeley’s historic Aquatic Park in July has now grown into a full fledged boat-building, bike-repairing and sewing organization, thanks to the tireless efforts of Helder Parreira and Amber Rich. 

“We are growing,” Parreira said excitedly. “The place has become a constant hub of activity. The word is out that there’s a place in West Berkeley where kids can come and spend time when they are not at school.” 

The workshop is set to become a part of the Berkeley Unified School District’s after-school program in January where kids will learn to make sustainable toys and build boats from scratch. 

Parents attending Sunday’s event will get an idea about what their children can expect out of the program. 

“We just like to give people a chance to make toys by hand,” Rich said. “Most toys are mass-produced and we often forget their roots. It means a lot if you can give someone a gift you have made with your own hands. People will also learn to sew fleece hats.” 

According to Rich, leftover materials from furniture and boat building will make up the principle components of the toy-making session. 

“End pieces such as the leg of a chair are too big to throw away and too little to use for anything else,” she said. 

“But it’s perfect for toys ... We have bucketsful of that stuff our instructor will sort from and cut out patterns and drill holes so that it’s easy for kids to put it together. It will be like a puzzle. No one will need to use any power tools.” 

The workshop has also gone through significant electrical renovations in the last few months which has brought bright lights and hot water to the building. 

Rich said the programs mainly attracted teenagers from West and North Berkeley. 

“Kids often have nothing to do after school so they come to our workshop to check it out,” she said. “They get hooked immediately ... It helps them to stay out of trouble.” 


Waterside Workshops Holiday  

Sustainability Event 

All ages welcome. Dec. 16, 12-5 p.m. 84 Bolivar Drive in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park (between Addison and Bancroft streets). 

Sliding scale donation requested, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. 

644-2755. www.watersideworkshops.org.