Features Sep 4, 2013 at 4:00 am

Why Inner-City High-School Kids Learning to Build Bridges, Towers, and Tree Houses at a Farm North of Seattle Every Summer Matters to the Rest of Us

Students from all over Seattle building a Chinese-style arched bridge. photos by Greg Kircher


Great piece, Brendan. I used to work at an urban high school in a low-income neighborhood. Shop programs were cut. A third year of math was required for graduation, and nothing below Algebra counted. 'Everyone goes to college!' was the mantra, and it was heartbreaking to set these kids up like that--especially with the high price of tuition.

We have stuff. It breaks sometimes, and we need someone to fix it.
I graduated from an Ivy League college. I work for a large test prep company (perpetuating the college-bound cycle) and I hate it. I never took any sort of shop class in high school or college, but I'm getting into building and renovating stuff now and I love it! I think I would have been happier if I stuck with a trade right off of the bat.
Credit to Elliott Trotter, friend and Sawhorse collaborator, for the best cheer in history.

-the tall counselor
why are the students' names changed?
Coming from a carpenter, that first picture of the girl using the worm-drive saw is hilariously unsafe.
Love this story. Builds on Matthew Crawford's critique of our educational system in "Shop Class as Soul Craft." The question is, should our educational system actually teach kids to build and fix the real physical things that make up our world. I like Michael Theriault's idea in this piece that the ideal school would enable kids to toggle back and forth between, for example, studying Euclid's geometry and applying it working on hands-on projects. The brainiac computer jocks would benefit from actually using modern tools to build and fix things, and the hands on kids will get turned on by having their physical skills validated and seeing how intellectual know-how is relevant to the physical world.
Are there programs for younger kids?
Brendan, this is so good from every angle. I love it when the Stranger rocks a great story.

The political intrigue stories, the exposés, the social justice pieces – are all necessary and important – but this just shines with cautious optimism and reminds the cynics among us that great work and small miracles are being performed by people concerned with the world beyond their own narrow interests, and for fulfillment over remuneration.
"Hannah" in the pic "going at it with a power saw"?
Someone needs to tell her to control her ponytail around power equipment! Scary pic!
I just wanted everyone to know that I am enjoying some energetic coitus in from to my living-room window RIGHT NOW.
@ 12 Artie,

Yes, I can see how three consecutive prepositions could substitute cocaine and malt liquor.

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