I think there are a lot of women (myself included) who often feel as though they are without a voice; be it in the workplace, the construction site, on the range, in social media, or during everyday life. It can be infuriatingly overwhelming to stand against the dialogue that already dictates those venues and arenas: the ideas that men are better leaders, women can’t perform as well in tough, blue-collar jobs, or even that women are better suited to clerical tasks rather than being out on the field.
Women, let’s stick together and raise our voices simultaneously to create a new discussion. We are capable. We are strong. We can swing a hammer or wield a crowbar. We can be contractors and painters and cattle ranchers and mechanics and engineers. We can do whatever job we want. We can lead, and we can do it well. WE CAN.
That brings me to Meegan Czop and the folks at Rebuilding Exchange. Many women there fill roles that are typically considered a man’s job. Meegan spends time on the ground scavenging through demolition sites for materials that can be resold through the non-profit to the public for re-use. It’s a tough job and she’s often the only woman to step foot in the work zone.
I tagged along on a trip she made to a Chicago warehouse that was ruined by fire a few months ago. With a jump in her step, she explores areas that would make most people nervous. A job that requires an adventurous spirit requires a special person. Meegan is changing the dialogue of what women are capable of with the elbow grease she puts into every day, the hard work she does to preserve and better the community, and the way she defies stereotypes with confidence and competence.
Meegan is wearing: Carhartt Women’s Force Performance Verdon Polo & Series 1889 Slim-Fit Double Front Denim Dungaree
Do you guys remember Pashon from Detroit Dirt? She was recently featured in a national Ford ad campaign. Pashon reminds us that the American dream is working hard for your aspirations, and hopefully making the world a better place along the way. Take a look here:
If you know of vacant meatpacking plant in your neighborhood, you might consider converting it into a home and workspace. At least it worked out really well for the Detroit-based artists Faina Lerman and Graem Whyte. In 2007, the painter and performance artist, and her husband (a sculptor and architectural dabbler) seized the opportunity to buy the former Popps plant (later known as a cookie factory) built in the 1930s and rebirthed it into a bustling art center in the city’s Hamtramck neighborhood. Hamtramck is a culturally diverse city within a city. It was originally settled by German farmers, followed by a flood of Polish immigrants in the early part of the 20th century. Over the past thirty years a large number of immigrants (Yemenis, Bengali, Macedonian, Turkish, and Russian) to name just a few have taken up residence in Hamtramck along with a growing tide of young creative entrepreneurs. Since 2009, Graem and Faina have hosted seasonal indoor/outdoor installations, exhibitions and performances in the building where they also live in with their two young children. Popps Packing is not only a home and studio, it’s also an experimental arts venue aimed at promoting dialog and cultural exchange between the local, national and international communities through exhibitions, performances, workshops and artist residencies. In 2011, the duo purchased a house (Poppa Joe’s Guest House) and a house/storefront (Popps Emporium) across the street, further activating neglected spaces on the border of Detroit and Hamtramck, while providing additional housing and exhibition space for visiting artists. In 2012, they started a residency program that includes studio practice, research, architectural interventions and alternative systems projects. Popps Packing has been a self funded enterprise since it’s inception, relying on the resourceful handiness of Faina and Graem, lots of time/labor/material donations from their friends, odd jobs from clients, and small scale fundraising to keep things moving.
See what Faina’s wearing here: Carhartt Women’s Coleharbor Hoodie, Clarksburg Zip-Front Sweatshirt, Original-Fit Jasper Jeans, Sandstone Kenai Parka, C-Grip Knuckler Gloves, and Carhartt Women’s Rapid City Utility Work Apron
What may look like a pile of dirt to you looks like the future to Pashon Murray. Pashon started Detroit’s first compost company, Detroit Dirt. You might ask what is compost? and what can it do? Compost is decomposed organic material from plants and animals. Pashon wants to eliminate Detroit’s waste and use every bit of “trash” for the greater good. It turns out that some of the stuff we throw away isn’t trash at all! It makes great soil. And great soil in turn leads to successful urban farming– full circle goodness. Pashon’s vision and work ethic drives one of the many efforts to rebuild Detroit. It goes to show that rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty is therapeutic for the soul and the community.