[excerpt from Charleston Magazine Writer – Stephanie Hunt ]
A Shared Vision Revealed
The WE BUILD Foundation (WBF) is the brainchild of community-activist Johanna Martin-Carrington & Sustainable Architect / community-builder April Magill.The new nonprofit organization is a mission-driven effort to fund raise in order to provide skill-building courses and community-building workshops at a cost that is affordable to everyone. Through these building workshops, we can influence and empower more people and more communities. Eventually, WE BUILD plans to execute small home construction through a collaboration of building-driven organizations.
Magill, who specializes in regenerative (i.e. low- maintenance, eco-friendly, energy efficient) building design, methods, and materials, met Martin-Carrington through their affiliations with the American College of the Building Arts (Martin-Carrington served on the ACBA Board of Trustees; Magill is on the faculty). The two share a passion for supporting women-owned, women-led businesses and projects, as well as an uncanny ability to think outside the box.
Though the plan is still in early stages, with the fundraising underway and a goal of building small homes together, represents a beautiful ecosystem—job-training, employment opportunities, affordable and sustainable housing, veteran assistance, and women’s empowerment, all in one—with Martin-Carrington’s passions and vision at the vortex.
Magill, counts crossing paths with Martin-Carrington as fortuitous. “I just love her, love being around her and working with her. She’s this hip woman who knows everyone and makes things happen,” says Magill, who recalls Martin-Carrington stopping by a rammed-earth building demonstration that Magill was doing with Enough Pie. “I’m up to my elbows in mud, and she rolls up in this white silk outfit with an entourage on their way to a Charleston Fashion Week event and then a banquet after that. But she’s interested in what I’m doing and wants to show her friends,” Magill adds. “I’ve never met anybody like her; she’s just so witty, smart, and spunky.”
Thanks largely to Martin-Carrington’s doggedness, the “Resilient Communities” plan has been cooked up in record time, and this despite the fact that (grand-daughter) Meachem is quick to remind people that her grandmother’s no cook. “She may accidentally set food on fire, but that just shows she’s human,” Meachem says. “My grandmother’s place is not the kitchen, but out in the world. She really does embody love and giving. She’s resilient and will always find a way to raise the money she needs to raise for any project she’s passionate about. She’s never going to quit.” [end of excerpt]
Meanwhile, April has spent the past 8 years developing her work as a community-based Architect specializing in alternative building methods, holistic design, and community-building workshops. April has worked in partnership with non-profit organizations in rural Nicaraguan villages teaching indigenous building methods to women as a way to empower and educate them and she has seen first hand how this kind of skill-building and community-building efforts strengthen low-income communities. She has led over 3 dozen community-building workshops in the southeast regions; some of her work includes working with the Gullah Geechee Angel Network in rural SC, a bus stop on the Upper Peninsula, a chicken coop at Fresh Future Farm, and countless other projects. April has witnessed a common thread at the conclusion of every building workshop:
People, and especially women, are empowered when they are able to sit back and see the fruits of their labor which was created with their own two hands.