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Auto-nomy - A Women Owned and Operated Auto Shop in Shonnaville

I just got back from completing an art residency at The Coutts Center which is a lovely homestead in Southern Alberta owned and operated by The University of Lethbridge. I had set the time aside to write an audiobook of poetry but a week or so before going it occurred to me that it might be good to focus my creative energy in a direction other than creating a chair, a poem, or a painting. I decided I needed to make something entirely new - that it would be good for my brain. I picked up my journal and started writing and "Shonnaville" emerged. A 45 page document filled with what I would like to call a visionary community rather than an imaginary one. I conjured and profiled five businesses and completed drawings (albeit very rough ones) of what each business looks like. In the end, after years of feeling homeless, I have finally found a place I'd like to live! This is most definitely a whole new spin on the idea of "creating community" or crafting a vision board. Below is a sample of one of the business outlines. Exactly where I'd want my car repaired!

The entire Shonnaville doc can be downloaded here:

Shonnaville- Where the Future Shines Bright
Download PDF • 1.50MB


Auto Repair and Education Center

Autonomy is a woman owned and operated auto repair shop. The shop provides mechanical services as well as running monthly educational seminars designed to help car owners understand how their vehicle operates and teach them basic car care skills. Monthly courses cover a variety of topics such as:

How to Change Your Oil

How to Change your Tire

Engine Basics

Suspension: Struts and Springs

How to Ensure Your Not Being Ripped Off

What to ask When…

Courses can be purchased as a package or as individual classes and most classes are hands on. Auto-nomy offers course discounts to anyone enrolled in a driver’s training program as well as gift certificates. The auto shop also has an on-going apprenticeship program for girls wanting to become licensed mechanics.

When dropping off your car for repair Auto-nomy customers can wait in the nicely appointed reception area, the outdoor garden which has several benches, or opt to use one of the bikes offered to customers. Bikes are lent on a donation bases. In the warmer months customers who choose to wait for their vehicle in the garden may also walk the labyrinth. The labyrinth is found in the farthest corner of the garden area and those who visit it are asked to hold silence and approach their walk as a meditative practice.

The facilities at Auto-nomy are designed to ensure customers are received into an environment that reflects the beauty of the natural world. The parking lot is designed with trees separating each stall so t

hat cars left in the summer season are well shaded. The building itself is surrounded by flower gardens and three beautiful rock gardens frame the entrances to each of the garage’s two bays. The drive-in bays are finished with interlocking brick and there is a beautiful cobblestone path leading to the main door.

Autonomy is housed in a single story art deco style structure. The exterior of the building is clad in white stucco and the corners of the building are rounded. The garage bay doors are fully windowed allowing amble sunlight into the work area. Vintage spot lights are directed over the front signage which is carved from pine and inlayed with pink resin.

The main entrance to Auto-nomy is found at the side of the building along with a second entrance that leads directly to the public meeting space. The entry doors are finished with rounded stained glass panels on top and two large round windows adorn the side of the building. Upon entry guests are greeted to a tastefully finished reception area. Furnishings are luxurious and modern and original artwork from local artists adorns the walls.

The public meeting area and classroom is an open concept space. The area has a separate drive in entrance and hoist so that hands on instruction can be given in a group environment. The hydraulic lift for the teaching space (as well as the repair bays) have been specially designed so that vehicles are elevated using built-in wall posts and ceiling supports. This ensures that all interior floor areas remain clear and uncluttered. Tools and equipment are stored in lightweight streamlined rolling storage cupboards. The garage prides itself on its clean, efficient, and visually appealing teaching and work environment.

During business hours the meeting area doubles as an employee lounge. Here employees can enjoy the gas fireplace, kitchenette stocked with cold pressed organic juices, an espresso machine, and lush indoor plants and trees that thrive under the skylights installed on the roof.

Auto-nomy supports oil, parts, and scrap metal recycling programs through their partnership with Around the Wheel a local automotive recycling program.


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