DIY Design Bank Curates Basic Designs and Instructions for Building Simple Furniture

LIFEHACKER (May 25, 2011) – The DIY Furniture Design Bank is an online catalog of small furniture designs, laid out cleanly and simply enough for just about anyone to understand them. The instructions are short and tend to assume that whoever is reading them has had a minimum amount of experience with woodworking, but the illustrations make them perfect for printing out. So, even if you don’t know the first thing about woodworking (or have access to a workshop), you can probably get somebody to put one of these designs together if you really love it.

There are only 27 designs at the moment, but they’re basic enough for a prospective builder to make changes without really harming anything. The designs in the catalog are seriously trending right now, too. As simple as they are, some of them look an awful lot like pieces you might find in an expensive furniture haus, with a price tag steeper than a new Macbook.

The DIY Furniture Design Bank

— Matthew Rogers

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How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden


Find a Pallet

The first thing you need to do is–obviously–find a pallet. I’ve had good luck finding them in dumpsters behind supermarkets. No need to be squeamish. It doesn’t smell. At least, it doesn’t smell that bad. Don’t just take the first pallet you find. You’re looking for one with all the boards in good condition, no nails sticking out, no rotting, etc. If you intend to put edibles in your pallet, be sure to find one that was heat treated as opposed to fumigated with pesticides.

Collect Your Supplies

For this project, you’ll need the pallet you found, two large bags of potting soil, 16 six packs of annual flowers (one six pack per opening on the face of the pallet, and two six packs per opening on the top of the completed pallet garden), a small roll of landscape fabric, a staple gun, staples, and sand paper.

Get Your Pallet into Shape

Once you’ve dragged your pallet home, give it a once over. Are any of the boards a little loose? Is the wood chipping in places? Nail down any loose boards, and use sand paper to smooth down any rough spots.

Let the Stapling Begin!

Decide which side of the pallet will be the bottom when the pallet garden is completed and leaning against the wall. You are going to be covering the bottom, back, and sides with landscape fabric, leaving  the spaces between the slats and the top uncovered (you’ll be planting flowers in the uncovered spaces).

Lay the pallet face down. Roll the landscape fabric over the back. Cut two identically sized pieces that are long enough to go from the top edge of the back of the pallet and wrap all the way around the bottom, plus a few extra inches.

Hold the two pieces of landscape fabric together as if they were one piece of fabric. Fold over the top edge by one inch and center it on the top board of the back of the pallet. Staple the fabric into place near the top edge of the top board. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and pull it taut. Staple the fabric down on the top, right edge of the top board. Repeat on the left side. Fill in between those three staples with one staple every two inches along the top edge of the top board.

When the top of the landscape fabric is securely attached to the top, back board, smooth the fabric down, and repeat the process along the bottom edge of the bottom board, except don’t fold the fabric under, leave a long flap on the bottom.

Pulling the fabric tautly along the bottom, fold the cut edge under, and staple the fabric down along the front edge of the bottom. Smooth the fabric out to the left and right and staple every two inches along the front edge of the bottom.

Now for the sides. Start near the bottom and fold the excess fabric inwards as if you were wrapping a present. Fold the cut edge of the fabric under andstaple it down near the front, bottom edge of the side facade.Smooth the fabric out and place a staple every two inches along the front edge of the side of the pallet. The fabric should be taut but not in danger of tearing. Repeat on the other side of the pallet.

You should now have a pallet with landscape fabric wrapped around the sides, back, and bottom. Place more staples along the spine of the back side of the pallet, and anywhere else you think the fabric needs to be held down so that soil can’t creep into places you don’t want it to go.

Now for the Fun Part–Planting!

Bring the pallet close to wherever its final spot will be and lay it down face up. You’re going to plant it while it’s laying flat on the ground.

First slide the plants into what will be the top. Plant everything very tightly, you should have to practically shoe horn the last plant into place. Now that you have capped the top, pour the entire first bag of potting soil on top of the pallet. Push the soil into the pallet between the slats and smooth it out so that the soil is level. Repeat with the second bag of potting soil.

Push potting soil into the bottom cavity, so that there is a trench directly below one of the bottom openings. Plant six plants in the trench, so that they are very tightly fitted into the opening. Repeat with the other bottom opening. Now push the potting soil up against those flowers you just planted, making a trench beneath one of the openings in the second row. Plant your flowers tightly in that opening. Repeat for all the remaining openings.

When you’re done planting, you should have plants that are completely covering every opening (i.e. there shouldn’t be any place for soil to fall out). There should also be soil firmly pushed into every part of the pallet where there aren’t plants.

Caring For your Pallet

Now, I’m going to tell you what you should do, and what I always end up doing (which is what you should not do). You should leave the pallet flat on the ground for a couple of weeks (watering when needed), so that the roots can start to grow in and hold all the plants in place. I can never wait though, so I always tip the pallet upright a few days after planting. Some soil does fall out, but it seems to be okay. But I think it would be better if you left it to settle and only tipped it upright after a few weeks. Do as I say, not as I do.

Water your pallet regularly, they dry out quickly. Pay special attention to the bottom two openings, they seem to be the driest. Fertilize with water soluble fertilizer added to your watering can (follow package instructions for amount and frequency).

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Portland’s Northwest Shingle Recyclers grind oil from shingles for reuse as asphalt for roads

OREGONIAN (April 18, 2011) – Your old roof is rich in oil. But until recently, when it came time for a new one, those drab asphalt shingles went to the landfill because there wasn’t a big market for recycling them.

And what a waste. The average “reroof” involves removing roughly 3 tons of roofing material. Each ton of shingles contains the equivalent of one barrel of oil that can be reclaimed as asphalt, according to industry estimates.

Now there’s an easy, effective way to recycle those shingles. At the newly opened Northwest Shingle Recyclers, 6110 S.E. 111th Ave., it can actually be cheaper to recycle the shingles than to send them to a landfill. It costs $65 a ton to dump them at Northwest Shingle and approximately $85 at a Metro transfer station. The recycler can charge less because there’s money to be made reselling them for asphalt — $10 to $30 a ton. Northwest Shingle says it’s just months away from opening another facility in Tigard

Talk about win-win. Shingle recycling is taking off because the state has approved recycled asphalt in its road mix.

On a small scale, Greenway Recycling in Portland has recycled shingles and other items for a few years.

But this steps it up to another level. Since it opened in November, Northwest Shingle Recyclers has salvaged about 3,500 tons with plans to collect 10,000 to 20,000 tons in its first year. And Northwest is only about shingles, which it collects and converts into usable material.

To ensure your old roof is recycled, ask your roofer what it plans to do with the debris. Big operations such as Interstate Roofing Inc. in Portland and Bliss Roofing Inc. in Clackamas recycle at Northwest Shingle. But others will too once they learn about it. Or know the customer cares.

Interstate Roofing is especially excited because last year alone the company took down 5,082 tons of construction debris from nearly 2,000 roofs and while it recycled some, now it can recycle almost all of it.

“I personally feel it’s an important thing for us to do, as do our employees and our customers,” said Interstate President Shelley Metzler. That company is big enough to dump its own old roofing material instead of paying Metro to do it, but has decided to pay more to recycle.

It’s a pretty straightforward process. Dump trucks full of old roof pull up to Northwest Shingle and get weighed on a giant scale before lumbering inside the cavernous 10,000-square-foot building. Old-roof loads don’t just contain asphalt shingles: there’s wood and plastic and metal and whatever garbage people walking by the dumpster throw in, said Ron Roth of RA Roth Construction in Happy Valley who partnered with Greg Bolt of ABC Roofing Co. in Clackamas to create Northwest Shingle Recyclers. Employees there sort it all, recycling the plastic, paper and metal separately.

The shingles get thrown in their own pile, which the company takes to another site where it’s turned into something like coffee grounds and a big magnet pulls out the nails.

Recycled asphalt shingles contain about 30 percent oil and can be sold to asphalt companies that heat it up and mix it into new road asphalt.

Northwest Shingle is part of an alliance with Owens Corning Roofing & Asphalt and Heritage Environmental Services, which already supports roof-shingle recycling in seven other places, mostly in the Midwest where it has been going on for years. Owens Corning helps ensure its roofers recycle the shingles and Heritage works to help develop local recycling facilities.

Putting recycled shingles into the road mix in Oregon wasn’t a snap. The Oregon Department of Transportation wanted to ensure it made good asphalt before building public roads with it. So it did some pilot projects including a stretch of highway east of Bend and a ramp in Salem. Lab reports indicated it’s just as strong as the asphalt without recycled material, said Jeff Gower, state construction and materials engineer.

The state now allows the asphalt mix to contain up to 5 percent recycled shingles. Northwest Shingle Recyclers wanted the state to mandate that, but ODOT doesn’t want to even though it deems it a fine product.

“If we mandate one product over another, it limits the competition,” Gower said.

Northwest Shingle will continue to push for a mandate of at least 2 percent. The average roof lasts 15-30 years, so the shingles will keep coming.

And hopefully they’ll be recycled.

– Carrie Sturrock

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Three volunteering ideas that fit your busy life

IDEALISTBLOG (April 13, 2011) – Volunteering offers benefits to communities and individuals and the volunteer. Studies show volunteers benefit mentally and physically, and report increased happiness due to stronger social ties. But it’s also often presented in popular media as an activity for youth and for people who’ve retired from their careers.

What about all the people in between?

In honor of National Volunteer Week I  want to highlight three ways to volunteer that even busy professionals—including folks with families—can try.

1. DIY volunteering.

DIY (do-it-yourself) can range from simple to complex. Busy professional? Think about meaningful one- or two-step actions you can take in your neighborhood or at work, like:

  • distributing disaster preparedness tips
  • setting up a book collection bin to gather good kids books, then distribute them to pediatric waiting rooms or reading programs for children from low-income families (make sure you ask the doctor’s office or the reading program first!)
  • bringing a meal to a neighbor with a newborn, illness, or family loss
  • picking up litter on a playground
  • feeding a neighbor’s pets when they are out of town

What’s in it for you? DIY volunteering connects you to your neighbors in a less formal, more social way, and helps you build social capital.

Learn more about DIY volunteering and about neighboring. Also check out Follow the Leader, an initiative from HandsOn Network, that offers project playbooks to help you launch a DIY volunteer activity, like starting or joining a community garden, or teaching unemployed adults how to craft a resume.

2. Microvolunteering.

Microvolunteering gives you a chance to connect your skills with one-off opportunities to do good.

Whether your skills include writing and editing, instructional design, or budgeting and finance, microvolunteering lets you find a project that takes a bit of your time, that you can do from a distance, and that can really help complement the human resource capacity of an organization.

What’s in it for you? Microvolunteering offers you an introduction to an organization, role, or issue you want to explore for your own career transition purposes or to practice skills you’re learning in school. And you may be able to display your work in your career portfolio (check with your sponsoring org for permission).

Learn more on, a site that lets you accept volunteer challenges posted by nonprofits around the world.  Help from Home in the U.K. offers volunteer actions you can do in your pajamas, like call to have your used furniture picked up by a network that will ensure its meaningful re-use.

3. Family volunteering.

Got kids? Parents? A partner or BFF? Include them in your volunteer plan.

Some questions to ask, to get you started, include:

  • What are your goals?
  • How much time do you have?
  • What activities and places do you already enjoy?
  • What skills do you have?

Answering these questions with members of your family ensures buy-in and better outcomes. For example, if you already enjoy hiking with your family, consider spring cleaning a local nature trail. Children might enjoy painting a mural at their school – and they’ll take pride in seeing the finished product every day.

Even young kids can volunteer with you. Babies often make people of all ages happy. Toddlers can participate in simple craft projects, water plants, or help feed animals. And preschoolers can sort clothes; sing; play and “read” with other kids.

What’s in it for all of you? Volunteering with family means that you get to create happy memories together, by making a positive impact in your community. You can set an example of community engagement for children, escape boredom, and have fun together, often without spending money.

Learn more about family volunteering in Idealist’s Volunteer Center, and at The Volunteering Family.

How do you find time to volunteer? What experiences can you share related to DIY, micro- or family volunteering?

Amy Potthast

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10 Weird But Beautiful Homes

1. Earthship Home

Water and energy shortages, groundwater and river pollution, wasteful McMansions being built all over the world and fluctuating temperature; with so much happening on this earth, this is the perfect time for Earthship. By earthship I don’t mean worshiping earth but a house which can fight the all above mentioned odds.

An Earthship is a type of passive solar house made of natural and recycled materials, generally made of earth-filled tires, using thermal mass construction to naturally regulate indoor temperature. They also usually have their own special natural ventilation system. Earthships are generally Off-the-grid homes, minimizing their reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels.

A perfect example of earthship is The Southern New Mexico earthship home.  The house was constructed following the guidelines of earthship architect and pioneer Michael Reynolds and was designed and built by artist Eric Warman. . It is located in the City of the Sun, a community that was developed in 1971 from a 180-acre land gift to provide a shared home base for people of different faiths and spiritual paths.

Using tires and dirt to make exterior walls, bottles and cans and mud to make interior walls, and a small amount of wood to frame out the windows and doors, the houses have not only a minimal impact on housing supplies, but also has a tiny footprint on the earth itself – water from the sky, energy from the wind or sun, and a self-enclosed and maintained sewage treatment plant. Plus, no utility bills at all! How can you go wrong?

2. Castle On The Bay

The Castle was in the news when a few months after Laughing Squid launched their blog from Albion Castle in early 2005 the Hunter’s Point property at 881 Innes Avenue  was auctioned off  for $2.1 million. The Castle on the Bay is situated across the street from the sunny shoreline of the San Francisco Bay.

Built in 1870 by John Hamlin Burnell, a young English immigrant with plans for a brewery to supply the over 800 saloons serving the growing city. Burnell’s new property had a secret advantage: An underground aquifer that provided pure cold water, perfect for brewing – not to mention free. He built himself not only the work spaces for the Albion Porter & Ale Brewery, but also a castle home. Although relatively petite and built into a hillside, it features a distinctive tower built from stones pulled from cargo ship’s ballast, modeled after Norman fortifications Burnell loved back home.

Under the castle, Burnell dug out two stone cisterns, each capturing 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of spring water per day. The 200 foot pools are accessed by a cave entrance, and still provide fresh clean water today.

3. The Dune House

This one is for those who want to go for a sea bed walk but are scared of water, here is their chance to go little deep through the beach. Yes, we are talking about the Dune house; The Dune House located in Atlantic Beach is possibly the quirkiest home on the First Coast. After all, how many other houses are there where you have to mow the roof?

In this precedent-setting design, the dwellings are placed fully within the earth; two double-height apartments carved into the natural form of the sand dune.From the ocean side, it’s a grassy mound with windows that look like a cute face sunbathing with the sunglasses on.

The earth and grass that surrounds the apartments serve as a year-round natural insulator: When it was 20 degrees outside, it was 65 inside without the heat on. It’s tiny – just 750 square feet – and each room opens to the others.

4. Shangri-La Dome Home

To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon the verdant green hills, with a river flowing and breaking the silence- is the most perfect refreshment.

Shangri-LA Dome Home brings the similar refreshing experience. Situated on a bluff on 40 acres overlooking the beautiful Apishipa River and valley near Aguilar.

The property has magnificent views of the Huajatolla Spanish Peaks Mountains, the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, and the Apishipa River Valley in Las Animas County, Colorado

This unique “Shangri-La” Dome Home consists of eight interconnected domes with two levels on 40-acres of land. It is quiet and private and filled with light. The 360-degree sky view at an altitude of 6700 feet is spectacular day or night and the views of the valley and creek below go on for miles and miles.

Each seasons has its joys to treasure in the Dome Home and it’s the perfect place to lift your spirits and bring pleasure.

5.  Mystery Castle

Built by a father to realize his daughter’s dream, this three-story castle, completed in 1945, is made of stone, adobe, automobile parts and petroglyphs and is held together by a cement mixture including goat’s milk. Take a tour – usually led by the daughter, who still lives there – of this odd, yet imaginative dwelling.

Mystery Castle is a wondrous work of folk-art architecture. Boyce Luther Gulley, who had come to Arizona in hopes of curing his tuberculosis, constructed the castle using stones from the property. The resulting 18-room fantasy has 13 fireplaces, parapets, and many other unusual touches.

People love it when architects use unusual objects, whether junk or jewels, and incorporate it into buildings. The gentleman who built this home must have had so much fun with the design. It got its name ‘Mystery Castle’ from Life magazine which featured the home in one of their articles. Everywhere you turn; there is some fun object worth a stare. So have a tour and happy staring.

6. The Cunningham Domes

This beautifully designed weird home was built by Gerry Cunningham, inventor of the ubiquitous drawstring clamp and the Gerry Kiddie Carrier,

Gerry Cunningham started building his home in the early 1980s with his wife, Ann, who died in May 2009 at age 86. It took about 13 years to complete most of the work.

An eco-friendly home half buried in the Southern Arizona hills near Patagonia, The concrete domes, tucked into grassy slopes like curved eyebrows, have solar panels to provide electricity, and the home uses wind power to pump groundwater. Natural light streams through south-facing windows. On the dirt-covered roof of the home, skylights flecked with colored glass pop out of the earth like mushrooms.

7. Minnesota Foam Home

A wonder residence constructed almost entirely out of polyurethane foam, hearing this you might question the strength and life of this house; To answer this here are few facts about the house:

Originally built in 1969 outside Minneapolis, the home was economic to build, solid and extremely energy efficient.

The house has taken record snowfalls, record cold, record heat…even took a direct lightening hit and survived it all. It was the subject of a Life Magazine article in 1970 and served as the host site for many fundraisers and community events including a Minnesota Vikings party.

So you can feel extremely secure inside, it’s a Foam Safe Home.

8. Coral Castle

Our Next house is a inspiration for many people, for people who believe in cost cutting and for people who believe in bodybuilding J

Coral Castle in Homestead, Florida, is one of the most amazing structures ever built. In terms of accomplishment, it’s been compared to Stonehenge, ancient Greek temples, and even the great pyramids of Egypt. The stones are fastened together without any mortar. They are simply set on top of each other using their immense weight to keep them together. However, the craftsmanship detail is so skillful that the stones are connected with such precision that no light passes through the joints. The 8-foot (2.4 m) tall vertical stones that make up the perimeter wall have a uniform height. Even with the passage of decades and a direct hit on August 24, 1992 by the Category 5 Hurricane Andrew, which leveled everything in the area, the stones have not shifted.

What is most remarkable about the contents of the Coral Castle is the massive size of the stones used throughout the construction, all the more remarkable when one considers that a single man assembled the entire site using only primitive tools. Hope readers are inspired and are all set to build something of this sought.

9.Bioscleave House

Bioscleave House is a dreamland for every kid, actually Built to Defeat Mortality.

Main attraction for kids is the concrete floor, which rises and falls like the surface of a vast, bumpy chocolate chip cookie, though it’s a concern for their parents

But, for Arakawa, 71, an artist who designed the house with his wife, Madeline Gins, the floor is a delight, as well as a proving ground. The couple claims that its architecture makes people use their bodies in unexpected ways to maintain equilibrium, which stimulates their immune systems. The concrete floor of the house which rises and falls is an undulating floor that tends to throw people off balance.

the design features walls painted, somewhat disorientingly, in about 40 colors; multiple levels meant to induce the sensation of being in two spaces at once; windows at varying heights; oddly angled light switches and outlets; and an open flow of traffic, unhindered by interior doors or their adjunct, privacy.

Stay in this house surely going to be an unusual experience but you should not expect much from the house when it comes to comfort. House can induce thrill and energy into the lives and worth a try.

10.Hammargren Home of Nevada History

There are three areas at the Hammargren complex which make it the most interesting house of the world:
The first is a planetarium and celestial observatory in one-third scale model of a Mayan pyramid, the center house is a full-scale model replica of the “House of the Governor” at a Mayan site at Uxmal, and the third house is a “Mayan Revival Style” architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs in Hollywood.

The man living in Mayan style is Dr. Lonnie Hammargren, a neurosurgeon, former Nevada Lieutenant Governor and Honorary Consul to Belize. The houses contain thousands of oddities from 65 years of collecting unusual things like an iron lung, a Batmobile, a Liberace staircase and Bugsy Siegel’s toilet, even a fancy Easter egg entryway that Liberace once used for an Easter performance. Also on the premises are an Apollo Spacecraft Capsule, a Space Shuttle replica, and a Stonehenge reproduction.

Believe it or not  Dr. Hammargren has own spacecraft complex nestled from public view atop the roof of his ‘center-house’. The space display theme(s) began over 25 years ago when he acquired a for-sure real Apollo Spacecraft used for splash-down tests.

Aren’t they weird? But I am sure you cannot refrain yourself appreciating the beautiful ideas. People think in strange ways and every time their strange thinking bring beautiful surprises and such surprises are worth waiting for. So stay tuned for next surprises which we’re going to present soon.


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Why I Believe in Habitat

HABITAT FOR HUMANITY INTERNATIONAL (March 1, 2011) – Women from all walks of life come together to help build and renovate houses, changing lives in the process — often, their own.

Emily Bergl
Actress and Carter Work Project volunteer

On a purely selfish level, I get such a sense of accomplishment seeing the houses go up. I work in a business where what I create is often fleeting and amorphous, so it feels great to create something solid like a roof.

Before I went on a build, I could barely change a lightbulb on my own. Now, if something needs to be fixed in my apartment, I don’t immediately call the super anymore; I have the confidence to solve the problem on my own. I feel this has extended to other areas of my life as well. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from Habitat builds is that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. There’s never one “right” way to do something, even when you’re building a house from very specific plans.

And — of course — measure twice, cut once!

Anna Wilson
Singer/songwriter and Habitat volunteer

I wrote my song “A House, A Home” after my first Habitat experience. If, when a person listens, they are reminded that it’s about creating a safe place where the people and the love inside the home are the most important thing — and not the stuff — then the connection I hoped to make will have been successful. I hope it inspires and reminds them of what really matters at the end of the day — LOVE! If there is love at home, then there will be love in the world when we step out our front doors.

Despite my disbelief at first, I learned that by the end of a build, an entire house is in fact going to be constructed by people, some of whom have never even swung a hammer. From my participation with Habitat, I have experienced the impact of a person serving and being a part of something larger than themselves.

Kristina Guerrero
Entertainment journalist and Habitat volunteer

I support Habitat for Humanity because it allowed my mom to fulfill her dream of owning her own home. She built it with her own two hands and still to this day holds so much pride for achieving this lifelong goal.

While I was growing up, there was a lot of love and support no matter where we were living, but my family lived with my grandma or in rented apartments — we never had a house to call our own. It wasn’t until I left for college that my mom was given the amazing opportunity to build her own home. I’m grateful that while I never lived in this home, my younger siblings had a house to grow up in.

To be on site is my way of paying it forward, and it’s such a gratifying experience to know that in a small way I’m helping to make other families’ dreams come true!

Jennifer Granholm
Former governor of Michigan and Habitat volunteer

I think it’s always important for leaders to walk the talk. My husband Dan and I saw members of our family helping with a Habitat build after Hurricane Katrina. We decided to encourage our family and our friends to build up the state they came from and to foster a brighter future for Michiganians in need. Our Michigan family build was a family reunion. We went back to the neighborhood Dan’s mother was from. This really gave people a chance to have something very specific that they were focused on while reconnecting. I felt very fortunate to be able to become the expert on the miter saw for the baseboards and the molding.

It is an empowering thing to be able to build your own home; it is an empowering thing to learn how to pick up a hammer or use a miter saw or install a sink or make sure that the landscaping is done well. Allowing women to wear a tool belt and to demystify the carpentry of their home gives them a huge sense of not just ownership but power over the home itself.

Alex Eduque
Head of the Habitat Philippines Youth Council

My Habitat experience has been extremely special and life-changing for me, but I think what has been most fulfilling was the induction of the youth council. It formally marked the beginning of what will hopefully become a nationwide youth movement to get youth more involved, to allow their voices to be heard and to shape them into future leaders in the process.

The basic fundamentals of Habitat for Humanity are based on the same values and morals I was raised and brought up with. Step out of your comfort zone, and show the world that we are all capable of helping, whether in big or small ways. This is our chance to show girl power and our true strength — don that hard hat, and build!

Ritu Sharma
President of Women Thrive Worldwide, a Habitat partner

Stable shelter is a basic building block for further empowerment. It is one of those very basic human needs that can sometimes get overlooked when we’re so focused on health as a basic human need, food as a basic human need. People may have shelter, but old wooden boards and a tin roof, that’s not adequate. For a lot of women who participate in microenterprise programs, one of the first things they do with the money they save up is to improve their home.

One organization is not a movement. With one group you might be able to get a temporary win, but it doesn’t stick unless there’s a real constituency and a broad movement behind it. Our approach is to build a big base of organizations — which has included Habitat for many, many years — as well as individual Americans who will speak out and stay engaged with these issues. We can’t do it alone.

Thandiwe Banda
First lady of Zambia and Habitat volunteer

The reason I am involved with Habitat’s work is simple, as we are witnessing here that Habitat Zambia builds homes with the poor and marginalized, especially women and children. When I see the joy that comes on their faces when they have shelter, it all makes sense. As a result of decent shelter, they are now able to send their children to school and look after their children. If you don’t have a good home, I think it is very hard for you to provide for your family and even to look after yourself. So if you have a home, you have security.

I want to say to all the women hope is there, we want every Zambian to have a home. Do not lose hope.

Pauley Perette
Actress and Habitat volunteer

The act of people getting together to actually build a home for another family is such a beautiful and amazing concept. Homes built not only from the generosity and donations of others, but with actual hammering, roofing, painting and hands-on work from people who care.

Being a part of a home build and then seeing the structure finished and the family moving in is an incredible experience. I had one little girl take me by the hand and show me every inch of her new house. She was so proud, so happy. She showed me every vent, door knob, every little thing, beaming with pride.

All it takes to understand how inclusive Habitat’s builds are is one day on a build site. There is a job for everyone. You can bring your skill set with you or learn new skills. Women and men, young and old, every hand is lending a hand.

Amanda Bratcher
Habitat homeowner

I am a single mother of the most amazing 5-year-old daughter Madeline. I had been living from day to day so long that a future beyond that seemed like a dream out of reach. When my friend told me about being accepted to the Habitat for Humanity program, I wanted to do it but was very scared. The day I went to help on her house, I knew it was meant for me.

When I was accepted, I instantly found myself surrounded by the most wonderful support system I could have asked for. When I lay down next to my daughter at night, I finally felt we had a chance. When I was told my house sponsor would be Women Build, it was exactly what I had been waiting for. I come from a family of very strong women that have shown me a great deal of support, but I soon found out just how much greater my family would grow. It inspires me to know the women who have helped make my and Maddie’s dream come true with the simple goodness of their hearts.

With their help, I have been able to show Maddie that working hard and putting in the effort will get her what she wants. This lesson is something she can pass on, and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better group of people to help me teach her.

Barb Bjarneson
Global Village trip leader and Habitat Canada volunteer

Habitat Global Village trips have given me insight into different cultures and made me aware of other people’s history in a very personal way, much more than I could ever read in a book. Every day on the work site, I marvel at how well we execute our tasks; how we interact with each other with kindness, genuine interest and good-natured teasing; how we connect with the homeowners; and how we embrace every moment of our GV trip with grace, fun and a sense of adventure.

I have found that Habitat gives women — whether homeowners or team members — new strengths, confidence and peace. We may start out building a home, but we end up building people.

Habitat allows me to express my love in a very constructive way. It allows me to share myself, using my hands and my heart to build a home for my neighbor — whether they live next door or across an ocean.

Trisha Yearwood
Recording artist and Habitat volunteer

A personal favorite Habitat memory was working on my first house in New Orleans. I had learned to build wall frames and had been working all day long and — in addition to walls — had built up some nice blisters on my hands. One of the supervisors came over and gave me a “real” hammer. It was so much easier to use! I guess I had to prove myself on the girl hammer first. It felt good to earn the big hammer!

My father basically built the house that I grew up in. I was 6 when we moved in. The whole summer before that, my dad would let me and my sister “help” build the house. I got to nail in floorboards and put doorknobs on cabinets, etc. It gave me such a sense of pride, even at that young age, to feel that I had a small part in building the home I lived in up until I graduated high school. I think that’s my favorite part of Habitat, encouraging people to work on their own homes.

The best thing I can say to women is to jump in with both feet and don’t be afraid to swing a hammer! Even if you don’t think you can do the physical labor, you just may surprise yourself. Since working with Habitat, I have learned how to frame walls and windows, cut and hang siding, paint trim, and install weatherproofing. I can’t wait to find out what’s next.

Original article

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NWV Habitat Supporters: we need your help to save AmeriCorps programs from elimination

Dear NWV Habitat Supporters,

We need your help to Save Service. The United States Congress is considering legislation to eliminate funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service from the budget, jeopardizing thousands of service initiatives around the country.

With programs like AmeriCorps, Learn and Serve and Senior Corps at risk, your local community could potentially lose the support of critical organizations like NWV Habitat for Humanity, Teach For America, Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, Habitat for Humanity, Public Allies, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, YouthBuild and many others, jeopardizing services in education, youth development, elderly services, healthcare and nutrition.

Congress is debating this bill now, and they’ll be looking to their constituents to see how much — or how little — the American people support these cuts.

We need your help. Tell Congress that we cannot afford to lose the critical services these programs provide in our communities.

Sign up today at for your local “Save Service District Day.” Visit your representative’s local office on February 25th to make sure they hear your voice.

Thank you for your service and we look forward to seeing you on the 25th.


Jerry Ambris

Executive Director, NWV Habitat

Posted in Habitat for Humanity, International, NWV Habitat, Volunteers | Leave a comment