Brigid’s Paradigm

Sheryl Stringer, an ASID partner in Texas, in a comment to my post on designing with waste, pointed me toward her blog, Brigid’s Paradigm. Brigid’s Paradigm is a low-income housing project sponsored by Brigid’s Place, a Texas non-profit that has various programs for women. The project was developed in conjunction with builders Dan and Marsha Phillips and their company, The Phoenix Commotion.

The Phoenix Commotion builds houses for low-income individuals and families using free, salvaged, and recycled materials. The company finds the materials, creates a unified house design, employs and trains a crew of unskilled laborers to do the work, and arranges for financing for low-income buyers. The houses are small and funky, but their occupants own them for monthly payments of less than or equal to what they were previously paying out in rent. Everyone wins: the company is for-profit so Dan and Marsha earn a living, low-income families who would never be able to buy a traditional home can now do so, previously unskilled laborers gain skills that enable them to move on to higher-paying jobs, and materials that would otherwise be trashed find new life.

Brigid’s Paradigm combines Dan and Marsha’s approach with the Habitat for Humanity notion of owner-supplied labor to enable homeless or low-income women to build their own houses. The women do the work under Dan’s guidance and end up with small, but highly livable homes of their own.

We need a lot more projects like this.

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