Community Matters - Uncommon Construction and ArtsEngine

Monica Pierre, WWL Community Matters
Sunday, December 10th
Monica Pierre and her guests discuss several topics including Uncommon Construction which uses the building process to enhance learning and empower youth in hands-on construction as well as ArtsEngine whose mission is to inspire, foster and strengthen collaborative practices driven by the arts. 

Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Lose Sunday welcomed the snow thank you so much for joining us today and your goes on here I'm not build houses with high school students. Revenues from the sale of the house provides scholarships. About the work of the nonprofit. Uncommon construction and it's this TT Carroll built into high schooler. Bringing their character. Fuel TV doors and you decide to stay in tonight the president returns. And the moral import thirteen or. It's non profit were based filmmaker. To create adventurers art that inspires the public. The mission is clear and powerful build houses. Frame character we're going to talk about uncommon construction. And what they're doing to change the lives of some very special young people we're joined by errant Truman. Founder and executive director of uncommon construction. And destiny Marshal program builder of uncommon construction and also a graduate of the program. Aaron and destiny thank you both for being with us today things are ominous gray time number two for you Aaron and for those who. Mano a little bit about uncommon construction tells about how it all got started. Oh man so. We started. About three years ago. And as just kind of an idea and we've been we've officially existed for a little over two years. And so it all started that I elected sailor the first thing that I did for uncommon officially was bring. Uncle would a couple of nails and some hammers into willing classroom in New Orleans. And now we've played hammering races which is now it kind of game that we play on the build site. With our premises. And we were testing under and things that wasn't really ever question of whether or not and how we would build list. With high school students are unskilled labor there's things happen all over the place that the nonprofits that. Is really about what's gonna make it special. And on common what's gonna make kids wanted to really show up. Can build a sense of teamwork and an identity and build those relationships amongst themselves and one another. That's gonna make it really really special as an experience for them so this close right after Katrina right around that time no I know so I came in New Orleans. In 2005. As a Red Cross volunteer after Katrina was 21 year old college drop out. And that's how I came in war games just. 1 morning to be involved in something that felt important. And after that I took my first job in construction has the least skilled workers to do labor company. In Reno Nevada and that's that's a long story but I ended up there. And it's a lot of every different kind of construction project you can imagine when I think about that in the context of uncommon. Where it it shows me there's got to be an easier way to get young people hooked and connect I fell in love with how rigorous it was but a lot of that was because they felt like. Had a lot to prove that the time. I went on to join americorps which brought me back to New Orleans working with a much different nonprofits here in Mississippi in the rebuilding effort. Yet to take construction and apply it. To this other prior experience had the red cross and and I work for habitat here in New Orleans for about three years. And for me it was always about the volunteer experience and how we can bring people together for a collective impact. Through a coordinated effort. What I loved about working at habitat was teaching people. So I went back to school at Tulane coming degree and became a teacher through Teach for America and actually was never a teacher here in New Orleans. Three TSA but I taught elsewhere when I thought about. What all of those things were leading to. And it came to me in a moment of clarity one summer between my second and third year teaching. Which is if I'm supposed to do anything. It would be to build houses with high school students and use revenue from the sale of those houses to provide scholarships for the young people who helped build those houses. Once I thought about and I realize that there wasn't anybody doing and I do further research that proves that no one else was really doing it at least nominally and I was thinking about it. I then started thinking about. Well that's probably because I'm the guy can figure now it's my not be easy but I think we can figure out ends. Where am I supposed to do it and for me as a result in my experiences. The answer to that was the easiest ones I've put all my tools in my truck. I DN in my third year teaching. And I drove back down to New Orleans and and that's the level of confidence. And that I had we're trying to give your kids because I knew I could do it because they use those tools before. And and you bodies and that are now and so whether I'm coming construction happened or didn't happen and that's that's the privilege of confidence that we're trying to. To instill in them as well we're joined by air and Truman founder and executive director of uncommon construction as well as destiny. Marshal program builder and uncommon construction. With uncommon construction also a graduate of the program. This city how did you learn about uncommon construction. Silent about it on our senior high school my friend or die she was talking about it and I just like randomly came in heard. And it sounded. They sounded like something I couldn't do. And what could you do it didn't appeal to you in the beginning she says that we'll be building a house and I was like there's no way it goes do. Aaron did and it's and and I applied and it started as an apprentice. Works from hosting years and then upon graduation. Hiring. The longer commerce law does not as they hit that. So that you even surprised yourself destiny about what you could of cop could accomplish and your confidence level that was probably an all time high. Yes I started. Content construction. Like basically I would have been. Talking to it was being put it as a leader. And adult volunteers that scheme this type of confidence to leave the SP is the element in the good zillions of people listening right now. If you are really really well what was the reaction from family and friends when usage you going to be part of this program. Like unbelievable. Reaction I can't believe that. It turns into. What do you do in your position as program bill. So aside from the actual. Program days and there's days. Basically carpenter we work on building house. On Saturdays. As a leader of a group princes and help them help the volunteers bill house and what's that experience and it was an idea may be a typical inner action. With the others. I can't because it's always different and it's always on Austin's. Summon up. It'll be like we. Sat on a Saturday morning. Kids are see them. Let's get out the tools for unity and. And posters of certainly thereafter. Princes were volunteers so apprentices are there they get their job assignments. Destiny and some of our other team are giving them. Instructions for what they're going to then teach to the adult volunteers who might be college students educators industry professionals or some other kind of mentor. On themselves. Aaron what did you see or hear. From destiny that they do not only be proud that she went through the program and completed that you offered surge. Oh man with how long do we have is that it is not that long. Yeah. Further embarrass her way and just so I might just about everything this. As an I you're in the name can not she's not kidnapping that's one of the things when she was a senior. And in high school that struck me the most is that she demonstrated this like. Level of maturity and we just gave him a platform to demonstrated rates so we'll see we have this one picture that we use all over all of our social media and it's a picture. Of destiny from from behind and she's working at the cut station. She's got all these volunteers in France and that was a day that we had thirty. Two main. School of architecture social innovation in social entrepreneurship. College students. On the bill saying destiny and her team. Word weeding and and they had you because there is only mean at the time as a staff member and Iowa couldn't do it as effectively with 45 people once. As she held it down she was response she her measurements were. Where accurate her aspect and her and demeanor with volunteers that we she gives instructions. Two adults is like. You I know you can do this because I know I can do and if I can do and you can do them help you. To do it by giving you instructions he needs she just has a really great way of doing that. And just not a commitment. As a senior to uncommon and I can tell that. She was the first person that we hired who wasn't me when I came to our organization and what she didn't mention beyond just. You know the actual construction work that she doesn't build Satan the instruction that she gives on Saturdays and on Thursdays through the program is that she has this. Impact on our apprentices and on our volunteers of deconstructing. A lot of assumptions and showing. A lot of like real mentor ship I'm just by virtue of being who she is in the pathway that she's filing. You're tag line what you're known for is building houses refraining character. How this uncommon construction. Frame character. So we do it making it a couple is one of is Thursday's after school. And the other is a through some broader kind of initiatives that we do I talk there's days. Items on Father's Day is do different things ranging from. Team building exercises to filter it with partners. The kids. Learn how to work better with each other and environments or learn some cool knowledge about and it could possibly be doing high school. Trying to get really cool and applicable in my places that they might not go otherwise are. At least things that they would do their imminent us with a tour of commercial construction site with the people who are still running that site or we'll do design workshops architects. But we also. Have times where it's just the team on the build site. No one else is allowed to be there in it and non. You're just connecting you know and doing different leadership development activities and things like that. Overlaying all of it is. We color kind of framing character culture and curriculum. And so this comes in the form. You know everything that informs the culture of our construction site. The way that we talk with each other the different structures that we have for build days the visual culture. EC on the jobs as a lot of Orange everywhere because. Like beyond sports team you know now we have like these after school sessions and then Saturday's game day. But and so you really developed some of that. A round at Roland our uniforms and so there these cultural artifact that some form lately connect as a team. As well as some direct kind of you know feedback loops and and things like that kind of coach kids towards leadership after high school college. Well you website uncommon construction dot org under team he pulled down the three I think interesting questions that opposed. To not only you Arendt but into you guessed it and others as well so we don't pop quiz right now she's that you can share the answers or with our audience. Number one what about UCC uncommon construction are you most proud of or excited about destiny. The way that we and Aaron. I mean my first reaction is that it's cooler than I thought it was going to be when I first it may it's like. It's we've had them the benefit the privilege of some strong support early on to be able to build a program that's needed instead of that needs. Some particular funding requirement or bending you know in order ten. To get some grant or whatever and and it's it's I think why no as a result. Our impact is much stronger. Program. Is. A lot cooler and more thoughtful and to just these four the impact. You know is is a lot more widespread and I would. Speaking of cool. Now the question what's the most recent our coolest thing you've ever built desks and move. And we'll kind of gone on in your backyard. Now okay Aaron. I. Am like. I don't do that as much billion you read it I still think the coolest things. That I build. Are the houses that we've built because it's less. For me it's always it's always been less about what we build a more about how we build together. Mr. for a reconstruction project that I have ever done in the house that. I live in now that I built around him are tiny house or even as simple as a Cecil horses. If we can do it together in a meaningful way. That I think is the coolest thing that we can. We ship on others to play and playing for a prize and that prize final question. What's your favorite specific memory from the experience with the practices are from a bill sight to see it Hughes. So it was both it was on the outside with the consensus. We like we strive a lot of times we purposely picked out differences in the hire them and try to get more females and males are taught me even. And this specific memories from ailing leader greeting which means removing a whole bunch of dirt around. And analysts me and two other you know pretenses and it was the only other premises and it was just a very profound moment of digging. Doings where hard work with and then having them on the ground and yet we get. It's gonna be unfair for you as the go far as the founder and the executive director but what's a memory with memory jumps out. Oh man. And so the most recent one for me and I think about the de evolution of our organization in the biggest one for me. Was just a couple weeks ago and you know kind of like our founding staff. On the bill saying it took sort of a backseat role NR kind of new generation of our team was taking leadership on site and that there are so many new and different voices and apprentice voices in the way that we kicked off today that it really was. A team driven and and when I when we talk about our team there isn't a whole lot of hierarchy there and that's reflected on the hillside because. Apprentice voices are leading voices in the way that people experience our program in the bill that we do together and for me that was the most profound her cool thing recently and said the three of us myself and destiny and Spencer. A program manager. Just kind of like took a big step back while our couple new people on apprentices stepped up and did the welcome into the safety speech and led the ice breaker and lined out jobs for the daily get a better than we had done. In the past which is like a testament to how cool it can be only bring it all together so that for me. You know seeing it come together and now weighs in the coolest thing that I've seen. We are at a time but the website how can people learn Laura this city of Alex you do that if you like and and give that final word for anyone count on the fence about joining the program. Social media accounts are always used to seeing. It's. Where. And always the teacher and a very good thank both of you destiny Marshal program builder with uncommon construction and TU errant Roman. The founder and executive director thank you both for. Being with us at the air and what you show is that no experience is a lost experience not insignificant experience because you're able to use. All of your experiences. To do this what a tiller per. It says and I saved destiny all the time is whatever you do. There it's right now hour after high school or after college or during any of those things do as much of it as you can. Hands. And of our presidency so what you were just like sitting on the couch and he had this idea at a certain comic construction actually think the reason why. I was able I had the idea and had that experience to do is because I don't spend a lot of time to sit on the couch and so whatever it is that you do. What are the industry or feel or whatever point it is in your life to as much as you can. And I never plans to be in this role in this position just. Finally sink you go again. Normal based nonprofit. I its engine and the mission is support for the creation of adventurous aren't. It inspires the public that's no short order there we're joined by. Casey Coleman executive director of court thirteen arts and Casey thank you so much for being with us today thank you ram me. That's ambitious. Create adventurous art that inspires the public. Yes. We. Typically don't do anything that is an overly ambitious that sort of our. MO you know the organization started. Kind of spun out of filmmaking process. But the director and and the president of the nonprofit. Bends islands as name and he's a film director and you know the the project kind of was created. Out of the way he makes films on beasts of the southern wild is a film he made him. You know in the process of making a film we worked with a lot of artists who come from all kinds of backgrounds of people who don't even consider themselves artists. And create you know sort of community of people around that project. And so they ambition and scale of those films is quite massive and crazy and we decided after those films we wanna continue to fear how to support those artists and work with people. Outside of any individual film context so we decided to create this non profit and given. Home here and well in US small crew of friends and that includes filmmakers and artists and crafts people. Builders and you all drawn to the Louisiana. What was the draw. I think you know that's an event I have in common we came here individually we met here as filmmakers but I think we were both drawn here. By the the sense of possibility in the sense of story telling and the sense of that there is an innate I think we responded to the fact that there is an innate. Creativity and wellspring of kind of just artistic. Expression and hair and south Louisiana. You know beats the Somali created largely and down the by U outside of New Orleans but we were cast in or around them. We tried to do solar projects in other places them honestly. It's is not the same you know that the people the stories here. You can't you can't go wrong like everywhere everywhere we look we just find amazing artist and as a story tellers and I think that we both. That resonated so people who need each of us and we decided to make this puts our Ohman and configure how we can continue to make are here with. The friends and lovers there were meeting here. We're joined by Casey Coleman executive director of court thirteen arts talking about what they're all about. How this nonprofit New Orleans based nonprofit arts engine really supports adventurous art. It inspires the public. My first curiosity court thirteen arts what does that mean had to get the next. He had the name comes out of when Ben and his friends are college they were making. A short film on this a squash court number thirteen. So it became shorthand for. You know. When people would say oh bends that court thirteen I think it became shorthand for those people are doing really crazy things over there and now it's just kind of become. We hope a destination a name for its name for a kind of a style and an attitude about making art and also the name of the physical cores that we have on Franklin and. We mentioned and quite a bit of course. Beasts of the southern Lyle and you're Knowles flop yourself on who you look at what you have as far as credits other quite impressive. Not only associate producer beasts of the southern wild but also. Specialty casting for Steve McQueen sort of yours a slave but a producer for big freed of the albeit background music video. Yes I thought that was number one in my favor projects and that was accord their team president getting that. If people go back in those two dozen tendency of that video that's a good example of we cast friends we cast neighbors and we tried to create a violent feeling that was inclusive and fun and while and yes. You how do you know used you looking at something that's going to work because I remember the baker for a beasts of the southern Lyle and band and he's I guess. The governor elect delivering the doughnut. He was right across the street we're couldn school in saint Claude and they there was mr. and is at the time right there on think. Com yeah you know I think that with a nonprofit I mean bands casting is you know Ben has a vision for his stories but. With a nonprofit how we seek out new projects to support and things like that. Honestly it's. I'm look we're looking for people that respond. As well and when people show up in our space and they get the idea that some do of the common. You know it's a Ross bass and there is there's really wild things happening there and some people don't get it and and I think as we continue to evolve and how new ways to support people will open it up to problem Moakley more and more audiences but. Also some people walk through the door and you conceive a libel often they just clicks. And those of the folks that we. That we gravitate towards you know if you walk through the door and you just understand. The type of project were transformed everything we're trying to do then I think word on Korea is literally a spice yes it's that at 2801 Franklin avenue with the world. Auto body shop that we have about a 25000 square foot warehouse space that we. Are doing events out than Leo I was the artist presidencies. And we just wrapped up our first always while our third always replace vessel firsts and a permanent home. Where we hosted I'm work from our first round of artist in residence in musical performances village. Came out for the party and wrapped we had. Original one act plays we had felt we brought in Caribbean filmmakers from Miami it was a real. It was a blue is there was a lot packed in for one and. We look back over 2017. As we would wind down on this year. What was some of the big highlights and did it's it's surpassed what you thought was possible always so busy doing it it and it's time to think about what you were creating. I don't know I'm I'm I'm I'm counting on. I reflecting an about it. The festival is unbelievable you know bit the idea the vessels that showcases the work they were doing for the year and this is our first year of really running new programming in the space so involving people and you know have having neighbors show up to the threw the event was really grade. Having we know we brought up a group of of artists from Mexico arts and Max. To to create new work in the space that them that that piece is actually also show on the limit that this hear which was a real honor. But just seen the artisan residence in the space scene the space actually use this is a dream that. We have had for a decade now of over real home for this project and many many incarnations and to see it actually. Really brick and mortar people on them swinging hammers like making things happen was really really great. It was a show to document on the remain at or him which was a real dream come true for us as well as part of possible so those things I think were. Surpassed analysts' expectations. It's so interesting case because we think of New Orleans attracting Malia meals attracting people in the tech space but here his office. An independent. Film making this producing. That the draw is also just as important for our city I thinks. No I mean I think that one of the goals. That we always talk about is how do we show our armed you know even just small way that. There is space and ons for filmmakers for artists this to do things to stay in so many. Friends that we have that are that are incredible artisan filmmakers. I think often feel the pull to leave New Orleans once they reach a certain. Level in order to be successful and I'm I think we're committed to being here. I think that were hoping that we can show that. There is a physical space for you and show up and there will be opportunities for you to come and get involved. Growth opportunities like that when he T. Into any team we're launching open community workshop space soul of will be advertising. The opportunities become. Actually use the tools get trained on the tools and we have full wood chopper of welders we have. Various odds and ends. Will be launching hopefully a longer term residency program as well as our project X based presidencies. A big goal of ours is after the first of the years announce a spring presidencies and we're going to be taking applications from. Houston. Florida. Puerto Rico Caribbean islands and Mexico so the idea being. Are you artists from a's communities where you were interrupted do you wanna come to and so. We're developing partnerships in town helps support those residents but that's that's quite ambitious residency returns and a and in the festival and all but I think like figuring out ways for us to have the doors open for people actually just come. And use the space in the tools is a real world card hearing them and how will always a pleasure festival. Ma and that is a great question. I don't know we just finished soon Dahlia we just finished funny seventeen and it was. Bigger and crazier than we would have thought we were able to do and I think we have some ideas about how it's you know overall I think that we're gonna come. Hopefully be doing it in our space and popping up in other spaces as well and using more trying to take people the parts of the city and not just keep in mind our space but I think we're all dvd Amman. So you're looking at a space tight time that we gonna be partnering and and figure out things and you worked with a New Orleans film society American boys. To let the other question also about things that surpassed our expectations are so what we're reflecting on the organizations are parting ways and town now. Has been really reeling credit moon. Muscle study emerging voices Khloe there and I'm Novak and weeks you know we showed a bunch of them focus senior student films vessel this year. The cool cooperative we brought in their sins of their cells that workshops. You know partnering with organizations in town that are doing. Programming that similar but it isn't what we offer I think is really the key. Sprinting into new or audiences airlift we showed that with formerly voices we've we use the the music box this so. Yeah I mean that is in order to be successful in this town and bureau and I feel like partnership as the name of the game so big shout out to all those groups that are supporting. And congratulations to all the success and opening our eyes and decorating space for those talented dangerous. Individuals who really want inspire the public with their art thank you very very lonely we have been joined by Casey Coleman executive director of court thirteen arts as well as the main producer always a pleasure festival stay tuned for 28 teen I love people with big patience and willingness to rule of the sleeves and get it done both thank you for letting us come in the end and try to spread the word we really appreciate. It. That is our show for today thinking so much for joining us until next time he enjoyed this Sunday and the rest of your week.