2012 – January’s Monthly Meeting

January’s Monthly Meeting –

By Mike Kriston, McDonald York


To kick off the new year for the IFMA Triangle Chapter, we had a very exciting speaker at our January Meeting – Emily Pilloton, a Ted Global Speaker who has also appeared on The Colbert Report and is a published author.


Emily came to the IFMA Triangle Chapter to tell her story, as to how humanitarian design can positively impact Humanity, Habitats, Health and Happiness.  Originally trained as an architect, she experienced an “Are you kidding me moment” when arguing over doorknobs one day, quit her job and started Project H design the next day.


Project H design became heavily involved in the public schools in Bertie County as they were in the midst of trying to improve student performance, and was given the opportunity to explore things from a complete different viewpoint.  They initially started with the elementary schools building what they call a “Learning Landscape” – essentially a large square of sand outside with school bus tires buried in it.  They created games that went along with these landscapes, which would teach basic skills, while allowing the children to be outside and “be kids”.


The lessons learned in these experiments developed into “Studio H” which is a year long high school program that sparks rural community development through real-world building projects.  In these projects, students learn and develop critical thinking, creative design approaches, knowledge of core subjects, and people skills, all of which are necessary for future success.  In the first year of the program(‘)s existence, the students built cornhole sets, highly innovative chicken coops, and finally a farmers market which now serves as the farmers market for Windsor, NC.


Emily left us all to consider what sort of social impacts we each have, regardless of our job titles.  She challenged us that we should each be striving to make a difference in our communities through our work and our interactions with each other.  She suggested that innovative and humanitarian design build in the real world can transform each of us and our communities into a better place. 


Special thanks is due to the programs committee for such a great program and wonderful speaker who challenged each of us to make the world a better place!