The connections among people and organizations, or the social glue that makes things happen.
Follow the numbers to go on a virtual visit of the school building in Guelph, N.D.—a place no longer filled with students, but still alive with history, creativity and community spirit.
1 .The Guelph School has not had students attending for several decades, but the unincorporated community knew it could not let the facility sit empty. The gym, with a beautiful, wood-paneled, curved roof, is used by local residents as a place to exercise, as well as for a variety of events throughout the year (such as the home décor sale above). Hundreds come to Guelph School every July for a turkey barbecue. Photo by Jeanne Thorpe
2. Other parts of the school building are used as museum space, telling Guelph’s history. Here, boxes and the service window from the old post office are on display. Museum items have been donated from many families, so the stories they tell cover many aspects of past community life.
3. A few years ago, the community had an unwelcome development: The flat roof of the classroom part of the school began to leak—and not in a small way. Even today, when there’s a heavy rain, volunteers head to the school to manage the buckets.
4. Local residents knew the roof had to be fixed. And then some local women had a brainstorm: They could use their talents in revitalizing furniture—something that several of them did as a hobby—to raise funds for the new roof. Here, Connie Finley and her grandson, Casyn, give an old chair new life with a bright new color.
5. When word got out about the new fund-raising venture, people started donating items. Some of them were sold as they came in, such as this antique organ.
6. The venture grew quickly. Many people in the community donated their talents; the design on the lampshade above, for example, was drawn by a local woman. Others shared their skills in making attractive displays.
7. The hallway of the Guelph School, as well as most of the rooms, are now filled with merchandise for the new venture, called Off the Shuelph in Guelph. People drop off things they no longer use, such as old chairs or vintage doors, and the Off the Shuelph women use their creativity to imagine what the new life for those objects could be. A local retired farmer does whatever carpentry work is needed. They also do custom work—recovering old chair seats, for example.
Every Tuesday and Wednesday, the Off the Shuelph women gather to work together, sharing their creative skills and elbow grease, to make their unique home goods store successful. They are pleased to report that they have made a down payment toward the work of a contractor who will come to repair the roof this year. Visitors are welcome; call 701-710-0888 for more information. Pictured above are, from left, Casyn Finley, Connie Finley, Madella Scheffert and Bonnie Daniels. Other women involved in Off the Shuelph in Guelph are Sue Gerdes, Jeanne Thorpe, Rose Sell, Geri Courtney and Susan German.