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The three words are: DESIGN, BUILD & TRANSFORM
The two people are: Emily Pilloton & Matthew Miller
The BIG Difference: Is Project H Design and its wonderful impact on the High School Kids of the Bertie County School District, North Carolina.

About a year and a half ago, I had the good fortune of turning on a show on the USA Network called “Character Approved“. This show highlighted the work of 12 Cultural Trail Blazers who each in their own way are changing the world around them.  These individuals included the likes of film maker of “An Inconvenient Truth” Davis Guggenheim, CEO of TOM’s Shoes Blake Mycoskie and …. Emily Pilloton of Project H.  I was inspired by what each of these individuals were doing and how they were making a difference and I, too wanted to make a difference.  I was extremely impressed by the work Emily was doing and reached out to see how I might be of assistance to Project H.  After a series of back & forth emails, Emily informed me of this wonderful Farmer’s Market, titled “The Windsor Super”, in Windsor, NC that would be completing in late summer and they would love to have it photographed.

Well, like most construction projects (especially ones built by students and instructors) the completion date kept moving but at the end of September it was complete and my assistant and I traveled down to Windsor to photograph the structure and the Opening Day Ceremony on Oct. 1.

If you don’t know what Project H is, here is their Mission, as taken from their website:

Project H uses the power of design and hands-on building to catalyze communities and public education from within. We are a team of designers, builders, and teachers engaging in our own backyards to improve the quality of life for all.

Our six-tenet design process (There is no design without (critical) action; We design WITH, not FOR; We document, share and measure; We start locally and scale globally; We design systems, not stuff; We build) results in simple and effective design solutions that empower communities and build collective creative capital.

Our specific focus is the transformation of curricula, environments, and experiences for K-12 educational institutions in the US, centering around our cornerstone initiative: our Studio H design/build high school program within the Bertie County School District, North Carolina.

We design, build, teach, and transform.

Well, when we arrived, Emily was painting the handrail and Matthew was sanding down the vendor’s stalls of this AMAZING structure. This structure was the Windsor Farmer’s Market which they had designed and built with the high school students of the Bertie County School District.  Emily approached and introduced us to Matthew and I can tell you first hand, that these two special people were as nice as any two people you may ever hope to meet.one could meet. What made it even more fun was that it turned out that Matthew was from my wife’s home town of Wheeling, WV.  What a small world.  They put on the finishing touches and then we endeavored in a day full of shooting through dusk.  Little did we know that documentary filmmaker, Patrick Creadon would be there, wrapping up a year long documentary on Studio H and Project H.  His documentary, Studio H, will; hopefully come out later this year.  We later sat there as the skies darkened and, over pizza, discussed Matthew’s desire to Solar Decathlon but, with a $50,000 house that could actually be a viable alternative to those in need of housing in lieu of the unpractical entries, due to cost, that appear year after year.  These are good people to the core.

Windsor Super by Project HWindsor Super by Project H
Windsor Super by Project H

The following day we were there at sunrise to capture it and remained for the Grand Opening at 10AM.  The city turned out, including many of the students who worked on the project.  The town Mayor gave Emily and Matthew the keys to the city (which doubles as a bottle opener) and a very special day was had by all.  It was incredible to be a small part of the celebration.

Windsor Super by Project H

Windsor Super by Project H

Emily Pilloton, Project H and the Windsor Super is featured in an article in the March Issue of Architectural Record on Activist Architects and, as mentioned, the movie, Studio H, will be out sometime in 2012.  I am certain that this is merely the tipping point for many great things to come.  It was great to be an asset to them at this special juncture and hope that I may continue to contribute and remain an asset to Studio H Design for many many years to come.


Brad Feinknopf