Project Fielding was founded by Sara Black, Billy Dee, Amber Ginsburg, Miriam Stevens and Donesha Thompson and has expanded to involve Caroline Robe and Lia Rousset. We consider building to be a gesture of craft, which by nature is slow, requires commitment, repetition and revision, much like social change. Building has been largely gendered, yet the knowledge, skill and wisdom that can be born of carpentry and craft processes are invaluable to all. Our choice to work with girls, young women and gender variant youth is born of our experience as women builders in both art and trade contexts. There is a persistent misalignment between the confidence in our capacity to develop building skills and complete large-scale projects and the gender pejorative attitudes we encounter when doing so. Our name, Project Fielding, encompasses both the experience of deflecting unwelcome assumptions and a new direction for the field of building. We propose gender non-conforming building as the vehicle for crafting confidence through physically manipulating materials. This program will accomplish this in two ways: Tooling Camps and Field-Build projects.
Project Fielding leads workshops for female identified and gender variant youth and adults to learn to design and build structures and use woodworking tools competently and confidently. These camps will be physically hosted by local arts and culture organizations. Camps will be led by a core group of skilled women and gender non-conforming builders. We will lead students through the design and planning of objects or structures and teach them to use hand and power tools. Return students will move into teaching roles as skills permit. The camps will seek a sliding scale fee based on ability to pay. This fee will be used for insurance coverage for the host organization, stipends for the workshop leaders, blade replacement and lunches for participants. We aim to supplement the fees of non-paying students through fundraising, professional development funds and grants. It is also our hope to auction the designed objects that our student-participants build as a means of supporting Project Fielding. See our Tooling Camp page for details!
On an annual basis (and more frequently as Project Fielding grows) our core group of skilled builders will respond to invitations (local, regional and international) for the design and construction of structures. Through open invitation and active recruitment, this program invites women and gender-variant people of all ages, including former campers, to participate on the Field-Build projects as student-builders and volunteers. We anticipate this second stage of training will lead to the expansion of our core crew of builders.
Requests for structures would come to us in the form of invitation, designed and built with the recipient (if desired) and our services would be free. Such structures might include summer camp housing in New England, farm-market stands in California, a community pavilion in Chicago, or refugee housing in Somalia, etc. This facet of the project will rely on a broad network of social service, social justice and volunteer organizations around the world who can make our services visible to multiple communities. Scholarships for students unable to pay the tuition cost will be made available through fundraising, professional development funds and grants.
Whether or not Project Fielding tool campers join Field-Build projects or grow into being competent builders, participants will have the significant experience of overcoming potential fear or barriers of access to power tools. Participants will develop confidence specific to the experience of seeing one’s hands visually manipulate materials into sturdy and beautiful structures in the rare context of being surrounded by competent and confident woman and gender variant carpenters. Project Fielding nurtures the power of collaboration and cooperation. It is a safe haven.