I’m killing time at the Days Inn in Greenville, Alabama, a bustling metropolis somewhere along I-65 between Montgomery and Mobile. I’ve driven 11 hours; three more tomorrow and I’ll be in Biloxi at the Salvation Army Volunteer Village, my home for a few days or weeks.
I’ve borrowed this far more interesting map from toymaker Chris Yates (see the whole thing here):
I was flipping through C-SPAN and caught a speech by Stan Tiner, the executive editor of Biloxi’s Sun Herald newspaper. Tiner’s main theme: that the aftermath of Katrina in southern Mississippi has been very quickly forgotten by the rest of the country – by the media, by a public with a too-short attention span, and by the government. Mississippi has also been overshadowed by the tragic situation of New Orleans.
It’s true, and it’ll be making my job interesting. Although there’s a strong core of volunteers still in the area, the fact is that the supply of volunteers is dwindling as the nation’s attention moves on. Labor costs are rising as house construction shifts from relying on volunteers (such as Habitat for Humanity) to relying on contractors and professional labor. Which means studios like the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio are shifting the way they design, too. In addition to designing for labor-intensive volunteer construction, we’ll have to start thinking about skilled but expensive labor, ways of taking advantage of manufacturing processes, and so on.
So keep Mississippi in mind every now and then. And keep checking in with what we’re doing!