• If Eyes are the Windows to the Soul, So are Windows

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    By Scott Boylston

    One hundred and eighty years.
    Seventy one years.
    Five years.
    Two years.
    What will the next time span reveal?

    The above list represents the entire lifespan of the wood that has been used for the windows that were put into one of the sliding barn doors of the E.34 Greenhouse earlier today. It’s been 2 years since we started the design/build of the project; 5 years since we reclaimed these very windows from Strathmore Estates; 71 years since the houses that originally held these windows were first constructed; and 180 years (or thereabouts) since the trees that supplied that wood were saplings.

    Who in your family was alive when those saplings took hold? Do you have any idea? Is it really possible that we don’t have any idea of what such a span of time means to our own bloodline? Are we that deeply trapped in the present? And if so, isn’t there a preciousness to the fact that the material realm can help us remember not to forget such things?

    Whether it was Cicero or Shakespeare who first coined the phrase ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul,’ the truth of the matter is that windows are also pretty good windows into the soul…of a person, a community, or even a city. We can tell a lot about worlds within simply by looking through a window. Windows reveal interiors for those on the outside, yet they also provide vistas of what lies beyond for those within. They mediate our reality if we bother to consider the implications of what we are seeing.

    In December 2009, we posted a few images of what we found when we went into some of the homes that were originally built in 1943 for Liberty Ship shipbuilders. Time had not been kind to the buildings, nor to the residents of this chronically crime-stricken neighborhood. We hoped that the photographs we shared in an earlier post—our 5th post—would “provide a glimpse into Savannah Gardens as a place, not of wood, but of soul.“  The image below was taken a few months later (in early 2010) by Pimprae Hiranprueck, at a time when Emergent Structures was delving deeper into the material reclamation process at Strathmore Estates.

    This haunting image speaks to the desolation that had crept into the lives of residents in this neighborhood, yet theses same windows that had illuminated the interior of decaying homes are now being used to help grow food in an adjacent neighborhood.

    Five years ago, the window sash were lovingly reclaimed by volunteers, and beginning 2 years ago they were refurbished by a crew of volunteers and Savannah Tech students. This slow, painstaking process allowed all involved to consider the value inherent in renewing these framing devices for our lives.

    Once completed, the E.34 Greenhouse will provide vocational training for special needs high school students. It will provide fresh produce to the elderly residents within the neighborhood who would otherwise not have access to fresh food. And it will be a meeting place for the community.

    The windows in the structure will once again provide a vista of hope; of a community working together to improve the futures of its own residents. We’re excited that the construction of the E.34 Greenhouse is nearing completion. It represents not only a new beginning, but a reflection of the soul of this great city of Savannah. Very old and previously neglected wood providing the frames through which we envision our shared future; this is the poetry of material reclamation.

  • Doors Open to a Healthy Future for West Savannah!

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    By Scott Boylston | photos by Jess Paterson

    The Growing Edge Community Garden for Green Groceries officially opened the doors to its shade house today with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The structure is perfect embodiment of Emergent Structures’ vision of diverting construction and demolition waste from landfills and toward innovative projects that serve the community, and we are proud to have led the design/build of the shade house.

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  • Last Peak Before the Ribbon Cutting!

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    In less than one week, the shade house at the West Broad YMCA will officially open its doors! We stopped in to get a few shots of the structure now that the skirt has been taken down, and we found Victory Gardens co-owner Reed Archer washing some monster sweet potatoes he harvested with the West Broad Y children yesterday. As the picture below shows monster is not an exaggeration! Read more

  • PAST/FORWARD: Sharing Our Story with the National Trust for Historic Preservation

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    Last Friday, Emergent Strcutures was honored to give a field tour of some of our community collaborations to attendees of PAST/FORWARD, the 2014 Annual Conference for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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  • A Good Day to Give

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    Whether you have ever given a dime or a minute of time, your life has been affected by the work of a nonprofit. Now, we are creating an opportunity for everyone, in every corner of the state, to support the causes that make Georgia great.” —Georgia Center for Non-Profits (GCN)

    We are Georgia proud.

    Emergent Structures was borne of a confluence of ideas and history that could only have been found in Savannah. And we are proud to call Savannah home. This Thursday, November 13, Emergent Structures is participating in the GCN’s Georgia Gives Day, a 24-hour day of giving to Georgia non-profits.

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  • W. Broad YMCA gets Roofing and a Whole Lot of Color!

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    WOW, check out this amazing structure!

    A vibrant color palette really makes it jump, and the roofing gets us one step closer to completion. In only a few more weeks, Emergent Structures will be joining the West Broad YMCA and 14 other community collaborators in cutting the ribbon for this great shade house, and Victory Gardens, one of our partners, will have a place to germinate their seeds for the Growing Edge Community Garden for Green Groceries!

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  • Hangin’ at the E.34 Greenhouse

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    Another great day at the E.34 Greenhouse! With a dozen DPR/Hardin Construction volunteers on site all day long, all four doors got hung—including the big, sliding barn doors! Emergent Structures board members Scott Boylston, Mark Fitzpatrick, Steve Hartley, and Bryan Mossing also joined the effort, as did past VP Keith Howington, and Design for Ability president Meagan Hodge. And thanks goes to RPI Roofing for installing the downspout to the greenhouses’ rainwater catchment system!

    Earlier in the Week VOS Electric graciously installed lighting, and wired the entire greenhouse.

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  • Floored by DPR/Hardin!

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    By Scott Boylston

    The magnificent E.34 educational greenhouse is one more huge step closer to completion thanks to the ongoing contributions of DPR/Hardin Construction! This past Saturday, a crew of 8 eager and knowledgeable employees of DPR/Hardin came to the site to lay the brick flooring for the greenhouse. As photos in this blog show, incredible planning and teamwork has resulted in a beautiful brick floor for the greenhouse from all reclaimed brick. And thank you, RB Baker for providing the stone and Scott & Sons Trucking for the delivery!

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  • Transom Windows are Complete at E.34!

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    It’s been a busy few weeks at the E.34 greenhouse. In the weeks before DPR/Hardin started their work on the brick flooring, Randy and his carpentry team at Southern Pine Company were busy fabricating the transom windows.

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  • Greenbriar Garden Shed is Nearly Complete

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    The Greenbriar garden shed is nearly complete thanks to a concerted effort over the weekend by students in three Savannah Tech classes. The project, funded by a Gulfstream Aerospace grant, represents a collaborative model that Emergent Structures has created that brings together students at SCAD and Savannah Tech through civic engagement and innovative material re-use.

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