No Conventional Jobsite


“It was clear from the beginning that this was no conventional jobsite – no roar of a generator or shriek of a Skilsaw drowning out conversation. There was nothing here to be heard but the steady thumping of axes, the whisper of saws, and joyful laughter (with the occasional – and somehow fitting – exception of a jobsite speaker playing the Fugees, courtesy of Loïc). It was a rare moment in which there wasn’t someone sharing knowledge or a story with others. It would be easy to mistake this project for some kind of reenactment of olde-timey ways, but it was nothing of the sort. This week was a demonstration of convivial and sustainable manual work that is just as relevant in the 21st century as it was in the 12th.

It would have been something else entirely had we relied on the expediency of machines. This was made especially clear on the days throughout the week when the public came to watch. Folks of all ages were lined up at the edge of the worksite, standing in awe to see people using their hands to turn nature into culture. Grandparents, parents, and children alike were visibly moved by the scene. And in our conversations, I got the sense from some that although they thought they had come to watch burly carpenters manhandle massive logs, they discovered instead a display of respectful collaboration – of nature “manifest[ing] itself through the medium of human beings.”

– Joshua A. Klein, excerpt from “Showing Us What is Possible: A New Vision of Work from Charpentiers Sans Frontières” in Issue Eight, available here.