Women in ‘deconstruction’ harvest value, and help one another (video)

This team disassembles buildings that need to be razed, reclaiming quality materials that can no longer be produced – and elevating the roles of women and gender minorities in a long-exclusionary field.

Katie Fitzhugh loves taking down the roof of an old house with her crew.

“Once the roof comes off, the house just goes very quickly,” she says.

Don’t call it demolition. Her group, the Savannah-based nonprofit Re:Purpose Savannah, specializes in “deconstruction” – carefully taking apart a building and harvesting the materials for reuse and recycling. Clients use the materials to build houses, furniture, and artwork. One inventory highlight: old-growth pine from historic houses, with beautiful grain and strength that can surpass steel.

The emerging industry also aims to minimize the environmental impact of removing a building. Demolition is a leading producer of waste globally.

“Deconstruction is the best tool we have right now to access [building] materials that were not initially designed for reuse,” says Felix Heisel, an assistant professor of architecture at Cornell University. The practice can create “a new, green workforce,” Professor Heisel says. It also means keeping carbon sequestered and preserving historic values, he notes.

Re:Purpose Savannah researches and publicizes the history of the structures it takes down. The group also aims to elevate people who traditionally have had fewer opportunities in construction, where men make up 90% of the workforce in the U.S. The staff is made up almost entirely of women and gender-minority groups.

“Boys are sort of born with a birthright for tool use,” says Mae Bowley, the group’s executive director. “It was important for me to create a space where women, women+, can learn.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Women in ‘deconstruction’ harvest value, and help one another (video)
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today