Woman Build 2013!

Dear Derf Sisters,

I’m Ri-Len Lukens, but you can call me Ray. Some residents of the Women’s Colony may remember reading about my experiences in architecture school. The good news is that I graduated, found work, and had a grand time helping to design Head Start preschools and low income housing until October of 2008.  Remember October of 2008? If not, this will jog your memory: it was the last time anyone was building Head Start Preschools or low-income housing.

Before the concrete truck arrives

The great news is that I am serving with Americorps. It’s like the domestic Peace Corps. Only instead of cataloging the lost tribes of New Guinea, I bring civilization to the wilds of Hillsboro, Oregon. And by civilization, I mean power tools. My assignment is to lead crews at Habitat for Humanity. I teach volunteers and homeowners the skills they need to build homes. The really exciting part is that we are about to break ground on the 2013 Women’s Build. A Women’s Build isn’t about excluding men. It is about giving women the opportunity to gain skills and confidence by working with an all-women team of crew leaders, volunteers and tradeswomen in a supportive and empowering building environment.

The best secret boyfriends in the world, and lots of coffee

It is the best job in the world.

Making a solid foundation

Ray and Nanette

Seriously, who would not love working with Nanette, who spends her Saturdays on site climbing into crawlspaces and roaming the rooftops to help build simple, decent, affordable housing for working families? Nan also blogs about the Women’s Build.  There’s a Facebook page, so anyone who is interested can follow our exploits adventures extremely serious work. I do not use Facebook, but Nan assures me that anyone who uses Facebook can help the project along just by visiting the page and liking it. I have no idea what that means. It has something to do with the little thumbs-up thingies. We really need the support.  If you want to see what Nan looked like after the concrete pour in the photos, see the evidence here.

Nanette, Paula, a few other women, and myself are seriously outnumbered by the fellas hereabouts.  Please consider getting involved with Willamette West Habitat for Humanity’s Women’s Build, or seeing if your local Habitat affiliate has one planned. Come as you are. I’ll supply the power tools.


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Reader Comments (9)

Hi Ray and Nanette! I love to see women empowering women! This is a lovely start to my Sunday morning. I'm nowhere near you, but I'm supporting you from afar!

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessie

Awesome work!

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMainely Alaskan

How great! In my youth I supported myself as a carpenter for a couple or three years, both at small shopping malls and houses. Unfortunately at that time, a woman made considerably less than a male on the job. I quit when I found out the summer high school help I was training was making more than me. However, when the apocalypse happens, even as a one-foot middle-aged woman, I'll be in demand, though I suppose I'll be forced to make my own transportation device (prosthesis) then.

Seriously, understanding tools and how to build is powerful and liberating. I am amazed at how few men have this knowledge. When my last house was being renovated, I came home one day to the sheet rock installer who should have been there three weeks prior. He was finally putting up the walls in the kitchen. I looked around, on my crutches (between surgeries) and asked, "What are you doing?" He got this exasperated look and said, "I'm putting up your walls." "I know that," I replied, ' but why are you doing it that way?" He almost rolled his eyes and said, "This is how sheet rock is put in." HA! I stared at him. I said, "Yeah. I know. I used to install rock at shopping malls. You're adding extra work and creating more seams the way you're doing it - why? It's harder, but if you started at the top the edge would be below the counters. They have tools to help hold it up if you're working alone. Twelve foot sheets would have fit perfectly too." He turned bright red, mumbled something about needing to go to his son's scout meeting and left. I called my contractor, then went back to taking out some other walls while no one would see me on the ladder, crutches on the floor.

Thanks for empowering women. Off to "like" on FB.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenternaomi d

Please like the Facebook page. It's only a click to you but it is important to the cause as numbers mean power.

February 17, 2013 | Registered CommenterMrs. G.

Hi, everyone! Thanks, Mrs. G, for helping me spread the message. Nan and I spent yesterday leading a crew of young women from local high schools and college. We framed a bathroom, a furnace room, and got a serious start on some stairs. We worked through rain, sleet, hail, and a few precious moments of sunshine, but it was a blast.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRay

I worked on a Women's Build a number of years ago and it was very empowering. I mean, you're building a house! You're framing and installing windows and putting up siding and making someone a home to live in. And it doesn't matter if you've never lifted a hammer before. The Americacorps leader as well as the more experienced volunteers are patient and fun and from every walk of life. I've never slept such well-deserved, exhausted, peaceful sleep in my life.

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersusan

What a wonderful thing to be a part of -- someday when I can stand and bend and move without pain, I would love to do something like this.
I have a friend in the Seattle area in construction, so I know it takes a strong woman to do this. Ray and Nan and others, way to go!

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

Many thanks to Ri Len & all of you for your support, it means so much! The blogging is a new thing for me and am working on trying to making it informative & interesting. So very excited to be working with Ri Len on the Women Build project which should break ground in a couple of weeks, I'm told, by the guy who knows.

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNanette

Fantastic - My son is finishing his second year with Americore and everything we can do to support it is important - the Republicans want to kill it.

Wonderful work!!!

February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrightsideSusan

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