With a majority of our previous Home Building Curiosities, I introduced noble home builders according to how they were meeting the five main principles that William and I are setting for ourselves: Passive House, Net Zero, Prefabrication, Small Footprint, and Healthy Living. For The BLOCK Project, I’m going to scratch all of that, and just jump straight into telling you how awesome they are.
The mission of Facing Homelessness, through The BLOCK Project, is to put a 128 square foot Living Building Challenge certified home on every residential block in Seattle~ and have someone experiencing homelessness live in it.
I know I have said it multiple times (outside of this blog), but how they achieve this feat still continues to put me in a state of humbled ‘awe’: They do what they do by revealing the incredible capacity that we as humans have to love and to be loved. You can see this tremendous power of love in every stage of the home~ from how it started, to it becoming somebody’s safe haven.
The Idea’s Beginning
About a decade ago, Rex Hohlbein began inviting people living on the street into his architecture office. He spoke with them. Shared cups of tea. Let them have a dry, safe place to hang out for the day while he made phone calls and worked on clients’ projects. He let them experience a sense of ‘normalcy.’ Most of all, he created a space where the reality of their equality was felt, and their humanity normalized.
Let’s play pretend!
However, there should be a disclaimer that the pretend play we are about to engage in, is not the fun, fantasy, imaginary world you probably conjured up and played in as a kid. This pretend play provides a glimpse of a reality that some of us have been blessed to not have to live. This form of ‘play’ outlines a real-life narrative with a real-life societal structure that pervades eviction and homelessness…and all the ills that are intertwined.
Ready?! (Remember, you had every option to stop reading at this point, and if you make the active choice to continue engagement with this blog, I hold no accountability…okay? Good.)
First, your name is Pam. Not your real name, but for all purposes of protecting the real ‘Pam,’ we are going to say your name is Pam. We are pretending, after all.
Alrighty, Pam…you’re pregnant. Seven months pregnant with your fourth daughter, to be exact. And Pam, you are adorable. You’re “thirty years old…with a midwestern twang and a face cut from a high school yearbook photo.” Your landlord decides to exploit your adorableness, and asks you to speak to reporters who keep showing up at your trailer park.
You see, the park you have been living in for the past two years with your boyfriend and three daughters, is facing the threat of being shut down and all tenants being forced to vacate the premises. Your landlord believes that you may make a “sympathetic case,” and that your cuteness and big baby bump can cover up the fact that the trailer park has had seventy code violations in the past two years, 260 police calls in the past one year, is considered a “haven for drugs, prostitution, and violence”….oh, and only recently had an “unconnected plumbing system” cause “raw sewage to bubble up and spread under ten mobile homes.”