The project engagement started around October 2014 in which through a networking event, Rebuild Global connected us to the school located in Northeast DC. Rebuild Global mentioned that the school was in need of some design professionals and could really use our help. I met with one of the teachers, Krista Howell, who was part of the school’s Environment Committee. We had about 1-2 meetings in which we were able to pin down the scope, desired schedule, and confirm what was available for funds. Through those meetings, our chapter felt they were very organized and motivated which contributes to making a vision into reality. The scope was manageable even thought it was three classroom sized spaces. Following those meetings, we launched a kickoff meeting and have had several design sessions to develop the vision based on feedback from the school. Some of the design challenges (to name a few) were dealing with some code restrictions (ie: nothing could be hung from the ceiling), providing enough storage, and allowing for a flexible yet functional conference room (the conference room had the kid’s coat cubbies as well).
We meet in December 2014 and they were very excited with design and we all started to discuss how to get it built. In Feb 2015, we were able to get a materials grant from Community Forklift, a local reuse store. Between the participation from the school, our design team, and the grant, we knew the project was going to materialize and we pinned down the date of May 30th for a one and only Build Session.
On Build Day, we met as a group with the design team and volunteer parents and teachers. We broke into groups organized by room and skill specialties (ie: carpenters, movers, and etc). There were several design revisions in which we had quick meetings and resolved. Many of the revisions occurred due to unknowns such as when a white board was removed, there was a big hole in the wall. For the hole in the wall example, with some quick thinking, we created shelving to put some plants on display. There were some debates on how to implement some of the design components, like the palette wall, but it was resolved in a professional collaborative manner. Collectively, we knew there was multiple ways of doing something so as long we were open to hearing it, we could discuss and act on it. It was a very long day, 12+ hours, but we were able to get it all done, miraculously.
A few days after, I received an email and to be honest was worried something had fallen. Instead, it was a great photo of the teachers using the break room room and a big sign, “thank you!” The email really had an impact on me and I immediately passed it onto the design team who have been part of the process. It was a great collaborative experience.