Haiti: Week 3 Begins

I’m now in my third week in Haiti, and today was the second work day on the second of six kays (houses) I’ll be building. This will be an interesting week. It’s the only week for which I’ll have no American volunteers, just the Haitian crew. That’s fine, it’s just an extra challenge to have no recourse to English if a complicated issue comes up! On the other hand, I’m learning a lot, both language-wise and about the greater context in which I find myself. We took a long walk through the mountains after work today, and the homeowner proudly …

Building an Incentive Kay

I returned this past Saturday from my week-long trip to Haiti with the Building Goodness Foundation (BGF). The trip was a great experience, although there are plenty of challenges involved in working in the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Not least, I was sick and well below 100% for three of our five work days, but luckily we had a great team of American volunteers and Haitian carpenters and the construction went without a hitch. The house is small by most standards, 12′ by 20′, although not too small because many aspects of Haitian life, such as cooking and …


It turns out that Virginia’s New River Valley has its very own design studio. It’s part of a non-profit community development corporation called Community Housing Partners (CHP) that works throughout Virginia and the surrounding region. The Community Design Studio (CDS) is located in Christiansburg, VA, about 8 miles from my house in Blacksburg. And I went and moved 800 miles to work at a design studio in Biloxi, Mississippi! I must be crazy. I found out about the CDS through its connection to the Rose Fellowship Program. The Rose Fellowship is a three-year architectural fellowship supported by Enterprise Community Partners …

Lorena’s Dedication

This morning, IRD held a ceremony to dedicate Lorena’s house, which is now finished thanks to the hard work of Training U, Pathfinder Mission, and YouthBuild. The house looks great; this YouthBuild class has learned a lot and done a great job.

9/11 National Day of Service

This Friday, September 11 will be the first 9/11 National Day of Service. The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which increased the size of the AmeriCorps program, also established the National Day of Service as a way to remember the victims of 9/11 and encourage Americans to give back to their communities. Many organizations, even before the Serve America Act was passed, have taken up the call for service. Here in Biloxi, Hands On Gulf Coast will be coordinating activites for K-5 students at North Bay Elementary. Kids will be doing chalk murals, crafts, essays, and talking with local …

The Trace gets all dressed up

Jamie Morton from Habitat for Humanity of the Mississippi Gulf Coast has taken some wonderful photos of The Trace, a 28-unit development built by Habitat in partnership with the GCCDS. The photographs show off the coastal architecture and excellent landscaping that help make this an extraordinary neighborhood. (See the full set on Flickr.)

Chronicles of Hope

Several months ago, I helped the Hope CDA redesign their monthly newsletter, which goes out to clients and East Biloxi residents.

Last Lunch at Salvation Army

The Salvation Army Volunteer Village has been one of the fixtures of the volunteer hurricane relief effort here in Biloxi since shortly after Hurricane Katrina. Over the past year, they have been gradually closing down and refocusing their operations as the numbers of volunteers have fallen off. Yesterday, after nearly four years, they served their last lunch for volunteers. For those of us who have been here during the hurricane recovery process, it feels like the end of an era.

Moss Point Exhibit, 3

Last week’s Moss Point exhibit was a great success. It was well-attended by city officials and community leaders, designers, and interested citizens of Moss Point and neighboring communities. I took lots of photos, which you can see on Flickr (65 photos). WLOX News did a piece on the exhibit as well. Here’s a quick look at the exhibit and the events of the evening: See the rest of my photos on Flickr (65 photos).


I recently suggested the AmeriCorps program to a friend who needs a way to explore what she wants to do next in life, and help others and support herself while doing so. It’s not always well understood; before I came to Mississippi, I didn’t even know what AmeriCorps was. AmeriCorps is a government program that supports national service in the United States, much like a domestic Peace Corps. Just days ago, on April 21, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, increasing the total number of positions from 75,000 to 250,000 by 2017. AmeriCorps members do not …