For the 2010-2011 academic year, I have been the construction manager for the Greensboro, Alabama chapter of YouthBuild. YouthBuild (http://www.youthbuild.org) is a national program funded by the Department of Labor that provides low-income young people a chance to study for their GED and acquire trade skills, all while earning a small stipend for their labor. This fall, my students and I built a fence adjacent to our campus. It encloses a playground constructed by the Rural Studio (http://www.ruralstudio.org) in 1997 and currently used by a daycare center. The local county and state highway engineering offices donated old road signs, which we then cut, sanded, filed, and drilled to create pickets. Using jigs and a self-organized assembly line, the students manufactured nearly a thousand pickets for roughly 225 linear feet of fencing. By cutting and randomly re-assembling the signs, the graphics were broken and rebuilt into a new collage of abstract symbol and color.
Unfortunately, the new Congress has voted to completely eliminate YouthBuild’s funding in the next budget, potentially causing all 273 YouthBuild affiliates to shut their doors once their funding runs out. In 2007, the most recent year figures were available to me, YouthBuild cost the federal government $50 million dollars. This represents a mere .00039 percent of America’s current deficit, yet, by some studies, YouthBuild generates $9 of economic output for every $1 spent on it. We are working hard to get America’s economy back on track by training skilled workers and helping young folks help themselves rise above their circumstances. Please help us by signing this online petition in favor of YouthBuild’s continued funding: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-youthbuild-act-now-2#?opt_new=t&opt_fb=t
I would like to thank all the students who participated in building the fence last fall: Raheem Ameen, LaDarius Carlisle, Anthony Davis, Nathaniel Davis, Quency Edwards, Shineka Gilmore, Jamie Gray, Jonta Greene, LeDarius Kennedy, Percy Lawson, Markel Lewis, Marshe Lewis, Andrew Mitchell, John Mullen, Marcus Pasteur, Marcus Richardson, Korderra Robinson, Tyisha Thomas, Dai-Samona Waller, Eric Watkins, Shakena Webb, Melvin Webster, Eric White, and Roderick Williams.
I would also like to thank the YouthBuild staff: Jon Carter, Dakesha Greene, Dan O’Hara, RaMell Ross, Ron Ross, Carter White, and Sara Williamson. Thanks to RaMell for the first ten photos and several more throughout (http://www.ramellross.com)
via Road Sign Fence.