Women-focused carpentry course makes skills more accessible

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As Dallas Conyers walked through her neighborhood near Greenville, South Carolina, she thought about the personal animal rescue she inherited from her father earlier in 2021.

Some kennels, which currently house 12 dogs, would need to be completely rebuilt.

Three days behind on the project, she briefly considered purchasing prefabricated homes to replace existing structures. But anything that big probably wouldn’t fit through the fence, she thought.

She would have to build them herself.

After all, she has the skills required for the project.

Earlier this year, Conyers drove from her home to the Wild Abundance campus near Asheville, to take classes in a self-employed gardening method called permaculture. The program included a basic carpentry skills course for women. Conyers found herself surrounded by women learning a new set of skills that were mostly taught and practiced by men.

“I remembered at the end of the day; I’m actually pretty good with this stuff. I know what to do, I know what I’m doing, ”Conyers said recently.

“TRY SOMETHING NEW FOR THEMSELVES”

She is one of 300 women who have taken beginner and advanced carpentry courses at Wild Abundance over the past year. The school offers a variety of online and in-person courses, including gardening, permaculture design, and natural building.

Basic carpentry courses are intended for all women, including transgender women and self-identifying women. Students come from across the country and from different age groups. Classes have always been taught outdoors, which has helped create a safe environment at a time when many still work from home or limit interactions with others, said Natalie Bogwalker, Founder and Director of Wild Abundance.

Basic carpentry courses are intended for all women, including transgender women and self-identifying women. Students come from across the country and from different age groups. Classes have always been taught outdoors, which has helped create a safe environment at a time when many still work from home or limit interactions with others, said Natalie Bogwalker, Founder and Director of Wild Abundance.

Carpentry courses provide a space for women to acquire basic skills in order to prepare them for more advanced construction courses. It’s a space where people can let their guard down, ask questions and support each other, Bogwalker said.

“We have tons of women who are retired or looking to retire and are trying to do something new for themselves and this is the first time they have had access to this kind of information. “she said.

Monica Burks, 33, a lawyer living in Durham, North Carolina, has long felt the need to help people access housing that is not only “adequate but truly decent”.

She grew up in various types of housing, going from what she said was a poorly maintained housing project in Detroit to a single-family home.

“It had such an impact on my worldview, on what I thought was possible, on the things I deserve and on my sense of security,” she said. “You don’t deserve to be in dilapidated housing just because you are on public assistance. This is where my interest in carpentry and construction practices came from.

Stanlyn Breve, 44, works from home in New Orleans for a national arts organization. Last year, she traveled to Asheville for classes, after not finding a carpentry class for women closer to her home. She lives in an old house and wanted to learn the basic skills so that she could maintain her house without asking for help.

Monica Burks, 33, a lawyer living in Durham, North Carolina, has long felt the need to help people access housing that is not only “adequate but truly decent”.

She grew up in various types of housing, going from what she said was a poorly maintained housing project in Detroit to a single-family home.

“It had such an impact on my worldview, on what I thought was possible, on the things I deserve and on my sense of security,” she said. “You don’t deserve to be in dilapidated housing just because you are on public assistance. This is where my interest in carpentry and construction practices came from.

Stanlyn Breve, 44, works from home in New Orleans for a national arts organization. Last year, she traveled to Asheville for classes, after not finding a carpentry class for women closer to her home. She lives in an old house and wanted to learn the basic skills so that she could maintain her house without asking for help.


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