In the early days of Spring we spent some quality time on the site of an InSoFast exterior project in Minneapolis. It wasn’t a typical job site with hired contractors and professionally-trained crew. It was an Urban Homeworks project coordinated by members of the local community.
Urban Homeworks is a Minneapolis-based non-profit focused on rebuilding neighborhoods with the help of volunteers.
The organization purchases abandoned, foreclosed properties around the Northside of the Minneapolis area and calls upon an inspired group of volunteers, trainees and local construction pros to come together to reclaim the properties into beautiful, livable homes. In doing so, Urban Homeworks provides hands-on construction training to develop affordable housing while restoring neighborhoods and nurturing a strong sense of community.
Cody Menning the Volunteer Program Manager for Urban Homeworks told us that the organization has been at it for 20 years. “We have different groups of people coming together to rebuild housing and to create affordable homeownership opportunities here in the Northside.”
The organization partners with Tree Trust, a non-profit who harmoniously combats unemployment, poverty and the devastation of urban tree growth by hiring unemployed locals to plant trees throughout the Twin Cities. It was a heartwarming sight to see the young folks of Urban Homeworks and Tree Trust working with InSoFast for the first time and a true testament to the ease of learning how to install the panels.
They installed it like pros with precision and confidence. Maja Numainville is the Team Coordinator for YouthBuild, she says “We have students who go to school one week and then they work with us on construction the next week. It’s a great opportunity for youth to improve their community. Not only that but they learn hands-on construction techniques. We’re very privileged to be a part of this Green Build.”
When checking out the site, we met a high school student named Noah Simmons who was part of the YouthBuild crew working on the InSoFast installation. He’s worked on two other houses since joining the Tree Trust and Urban Homeworks community. Noah told us that he’s “done some siding and a lot framing, flooring, and demolition” but never InSoFast. “I like it, it’s fun. I like using my hands and seeing how it comes together.”
The team managed to insulate the two story home in about 5 days. This is the second InSoFast exterior Urban Homeworks project. Earlier this year the organization retrofitted the exterior of a large home with EX 2.5 panels.
Once the crew finishes the extensive retrofit, the home will either be added to a database of affordable rentals or sold through Urban Homeworks to low/moderate income families in the area. The creative system that Urban Homeworks has developed accomplishes so many things at once. The local infrastructure of Minneapolis is improved, communities come together, young people learn valuable skills, and volunteers make a difference. All of this results in something tangible and life changing for families seeking affordable, healthy housing.
One volunteer said it well, “The relationships and the community- everyone is coming together. Whether it’s something tragic or a great event, it’s always something good coming from the community that is Urban Homeworks. You always see the next person working alongside you. As you move, so does the community and the direction of the community.”
Special thanks to the whole crew who worked together on this Urban Homeworks project including John Fabel, Maja Numainville, Zach Zehrer, Cody Menning, Jasmine McConnell, Les Olson, John Anderson, Tony Scherman, Dianne Pikula, Emily Halstead and of course to all of the Quicksilvers (aka: volunteers), the YouthBuild Team members and Urban Construction Company who helped to make this house a home. We are proud to be a part of it. For more footage of the project visit our InSoFast Homes board on Pinterest.