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Monday, November 10, 2014

Blitz Building with Habitat for Humanity

Otto Habitat Blitz 077.jpg
Blitz building in action; photo credit Nathaniel Tollefson

I have been volunteering for Habitat for the last 10 years. I am a carpenter by trade and they were looking for volunteers. I was invited to do a 'blitz' build in West Virginia by my brother and his wife. I did not know what a 'blitz' build was but soon found out. The local chapter of Habitat partners with a group of traveling Blitzers who help build complete houses in one weekend to energize the local volunteering force. This build was two houses side by side is some of the most beautiful hillside riparian country I have seen. West Virginia is truly stunning. We built two houses in one weekend working side by side with volunteers, homeowners, inmates and local carpenters. When each house was complete before the last piece of siding would be nailed at the peak of a gable everyone who worked on the house would sign it. We would all gather around and support the ladder as the homeowner nailed that piece on high up on gable. Not a dry eye on site, everyone cried, whooped and hollered. I was hooked.

For the last 5-6 years I have been trying to do the same type of build but on a local scale in Minnesota. My aunt is the CFO of Habitat for Humanity St. Louis County chapter and has put me in touch with the local president Nathan Thompson. St. Louis County includes Duluth and areas straight north of there. We have done a blitz build every summer and met some great people. Nathan gets the foundation in and the site prepped before we arrive then we show up and give it our all for 30 hrs in two days and usually have a house built with just the interior left to do. I like to stay an additional day or two and enjoy the woods in the surrounding areas, right by BWCA.

This coming winter we will be doing a slightly different build. I am currently looking for volunteers to help design a habitat house to be built in the summer 2015. I am specifically looking at fellow undergraduate and graduate students interested in making a difference. SLCH4H is interested in lowering energy costs for their homeowners so we will be looking at foundation insulation, wall sections, and possible site orientations. The houses are small and on a tight budget which adds to the design challenge. Very soon you will see postings around Rapson Hall for meeting times and places. I am looking forward to working with the team that develops out of the process. Come to the meetings and sign up! As an additional incentive the hours working on Habitat count towards your IDP.

Nathaniel Tollefson
NL Tollefson Inc.
LIC# BC681638

Otto Habitat Blitz 056.jpgBlitz building in action; photo credit Nathaniel Tollefson

Otto Habitat Blitz 123.jpgBlitz building in action; photo credit Nathaniel Tollefson

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