One year ago, Project H Design founder Emily Pilloton and her partner Matthew Miller launched Studio H as an elective for junior-year students in the Bertie County school system. Students spend three hours each day in the studio learning about design, concepting, and building. First up was creating and construction boards for the bean bag-toss game Cornhole. "We were thinking, What can we build that would have design and fabrication components?," Pilloton recalls. "We realized that a Cornhole board would be an excellent vehicle for teaching them to read rulers, execute design concepts, draw ideas in Adobe Illustrator, talk about color theory, and so much more."
The second project, building on the skills learns from the first, was the chicken coops. "Chickens are part of all of our existences here," Pilloton says, "but we wanted to look at them through a new lens. What does it mean to raise four chickens for a sustainable backyard rather than churning out 250,000 for the conglomerate down the road?" The results were the Chicken Circus, Bucky Fuller-inspired Coopus Maximus, and Chicktopia.
The students have nearly finished the third project: a full-scale farmers' market structure for the community. "We started asking around town what people wanted, what was missing," Pilloton says. "This is an agricultural county but it's incredibly poor, is a food desert, and has the worst obesity rates in the state even though it's a community that knows how to farm." Local farmers had been selling collards out of the back of pickup trucks so a permanent farmers' market structure and community gathering spot seemed ideal. Many of the students from the Studio H class have spent their summer employed as construction workers on the site and they are just about finished. Check out these videos for updates and the impact it's had on the students and the town.
When not writing, Miyoko Ohtake can be found cooking, training for her next marathon, and enjoying all that the City by the Bay and the great outdoors have to offer.