The Magic of a Build
Guest Post by Allyson Schrier
My two teen-aged boys and I drove over four hours from Issaquah to Prescott to help turn a burned-out lot into an enchanting community space. We had no idea what we were getting into. For 3 days straight, we worked hard from 8 in the morning ‘till 5 in the evening in steady sun and occasional driving wind. Dirt found its way into our socks and our hair and became lodged beneath our fingernails. At the end of each day, as we crawled into our sleeping bags, our muscles reminded us that we’re not used to this kind of work. When it was over, during the long drive home, we all agreed that we would do it again. Despite the wind and the dirt and the aches, we had been part of something magical. While the radio played and the boys slept, I pondered the elements that had come together to create that magic.
There is something enormously powerful about working in a community alongside people who are all striving toward a common goal.
I can use a power drill, paint on concrete with acid to create beautiful designs, and carry heavy rocks as big as honeydew melons. Who knew?! Meanwhile, my boys dove right in, working side-by-sidewith strangers to make an idea come to life. They labored hard with their hands and their backs and watched the fruits of their labor ripen before their very eyes.
Nothing draws people together quite like working on a shared goal. Every morning of the build we sat and talked over coffee with other volunteers. We helped each other steer wheelbarrows filled with rocks, and we clinked beer mugs at the local tavern after a long day’s work. Suddenly strangers were not strangers anymore.
The Pomagranate builds flow organically. The journey from beginning to end is a dance loosely choreographed by the Pomegranate folks but it is a process that allows for changes in the weather, the materials, and even the mood. It is an awesome thing to witness.
I found myself thinking of an old Trident sugarless gum commercial:
“Who wants gum?” the TV mother asks from the front seat of the car.
From the back seat, the TV kids raise their hands and shout, “I do! I do!”
The Pomegranate Center’s Prescott build was like that:
“Who wants to shovel gravel?”
“Who wants to grind the sharp edges off these metal planters?”
“Who wants to help paint the banners?”
No request was made without a chorus of “I dos!” in response. There were no cameras rolling. No one was getting paid to act the part of the eager volunteer. Instead, there was simply a genuine desire to contribute time and energy to a communal effort, regardless of the specific task that needed to be done.
Some people shovel quickly, or paint slowly, or tire easily and need time in the shade. At the build people were not judged by what they accomplished and contributions were not quantified. Instead, every person there was appreciated for what they brought to the whole. An amazing potato salad was every bit as important as a hand-dug three-foot hole or a beautifully welded gate.
While the build at Prescott was framed around giving something to a deserving community, I feel that in the end we managed to take away a whole lot more than we gave. That, to me, is magic.
See more photos and read full description of Prescott Plaza Community Build.