8th Annual Sustainability Film Series – Film #6: If You Build It

March 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

This year the Witherspoon Museum hosts its 8th Annual Sustainability Film Series, which started in September of last year with Greedy Little Liars.  The most recent film presented was If You Build It this past Thursday, February 27th.  The students in Travis‘ Intro to Sustainability class were encouraged to watch either at the Witherspoon or in Winston-Salem at the A/peture Theater between Friday, February 21st and 27th.

If You Build It poster

If You Build It poster

If You Build It is a documentary following two design-activists and co-founders of Studio H, Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller, who move to Bertie County in North Carolina after being asked to teach at its high school.  The superintendent was looking to change the structure of teaching and thought Studio H could do that through design thinking.  This year-long struggle of living on credit and grant money, a change-resistant school board, and local high school students eventually lead to a full-scale design and build project that transforms both their community and their lives.  According to Team If You Build It, the project “[did] much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what’s possible.”

Anthony & Colin working on a model for a chicken coup

Anthony & Colin working on a model for a chicken coup

Matthew Miller & Erick  building Windsor Farmers Market

Matthew Miller & Erick building Windsor Farmers’ Market

Windsor Farmers' Market built by Studio H and local high school students

Windsor Farmers’ Market built by Studio H and local high school students at night

Windsor Farmers' Market during the day

Windsor Farmers’ Market during the day

The film was very interesting.  At times it was frustrating – when the school board was not willing to fund the class or the last couple of weeks before the ribbon cut for the Farmers’ Market.  There were moments of encouragement – Emily and Matthew nurturing the students’ design ideas, as well as, helping them outside of school.  Although, there are many things that aren’t revealed during the film, such as why the school board wouldn’t help or what happened to the students after they graduated, there were many things to take away from the film.  In my case, a small part was how design can be used to teach and build, not only externally, but internally.  A bigger message of the film was by working together and truly listening to the world, we can accomplish many things, but we have to take the first step.  Check out the links below:

More information about the film: If You Build It

Emily Pilloton’s organization: Project H

TED Talk: Emily Pilloton: Teaching design for change

The next film to be presented is Food Patriots Wednesday, March 27th.  Then on Thursday, April 24th will be the annual Sustainability Short Film Competition.  For other exhibits and film showings you can visit the Witherspoon museum website here.

Contributed by:  Linda Melendez [2nd] year

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