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Growing during COVID

The pandemic has forced PSI to adapt and evolve and we are finding new ways to execute our equation of access and support to afford opportunities in the new normal. It was March 16th, 2020 when the shop posted a notice on its door, website and social media that the shop would be closed due to this global pandemic. However during the height of the lockdown when our DIY members could not enter the shop, we were still fortunate to be able to take on work from community members like Witman Properties - who used the down time to have cut vinyl graphics installed on several of their trucks; and the Holyoke Public Schools - who made homeschool packets for students with no or limited access to computers and the internet. This allowed PSI to purchase two color copiers, various other machines, hand tools, bulk up on supplies, and paint and renovate so once the shop once reopened members' experience and capabilities would be enhanced.

One year later, as the commonwealth loosens its restrictions, member now reserve shoptime at And while we miss the chaos of members coming in and out, we have at least returned to a whole lot of makin' around here - even if only one at a time. Our series of classes has also been remade as one-on-one private lessons which is more convenient and efficient for scheduling. We have found silver-linings liek this where we can. In October 2020 Board Member Clarissa Leverich launched a series of online classes with the Easthampton Council on Aging. Each class involves a kit of materials and tools that were produced at the shop. With grants from several local cultural councils, and adding Anne Thalheimer to the faculty list, Clarissa is now expanding the programing online and planning for a return to in-person learning with these new communities utilizing shop's resources.

One of the most exciting new features we can't wait to show off at the shop is our new backyard. During the spring, summer and fall of 2020, Board members Jeff Bianchine, Chris Dillon and Aldo Ortiz uncovered the Victorian paver stone alleyway behind the shop and landscaped the area along with raised garden beds and some lighting. It is a chill place to have lunch and has already functioned as an outdoor classroom. Fingers crossed that in August, once gatherings are permitted - we'll be utilizing this space for our annual Members Reunion.

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