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Community Builders Program - Official Press Release

by Michele Liu June 15, 2024 in Community Builders, Furniture, Partnerships

Community Builders Program - Official Press Release

Would Works Provides Second Chance to Damaged

Trees and the Artisans who Transform Them

Program turns conifers affected by the 2020 Bobcat Fire into contemporary outdoor furniture
Los Angeles -- In 2020, the Bobcat fire burned more than 100,000 acres in and around Southern California’s Angeles National Forest, laying waste to countless old-growth coniferous trees. Thanks to Would Works, Angel City Lumber, and a Wood Innovations Grant from the USDA Forest Service, some of these trees are getting a new life -- and creating new opportunities for people facing barriers to employment.
Would Works is a nonprofit social enterprise helping people build career pathways in various aspects of woodworking. Many of their artisans have aged out of foster care, been involved with the justice system, or experienced other challenges to stable employment. Would Works offers paid job training in a healing creative community where artisans handcraft housewares, the sale of which helps support the organization.
The USDA Forest Service Wood Innovations Grant allowed Would Works to launch the Community Builders Program, creating an opportunity for artisans who have completed the Beginner Builders Program to learn more advanced techniques, including machining, design, and furniture fabrication. The grant gave Would Works and its partner Angel City Lumber a permit to select and harvest trees that had been damaged by the fire. Angel City, which specializes in reclaiming downed trees from local sources, milled the wood, and Would Works artisans began creating outdoor furniture specially designed for supportive housing and public
Angeles National Forest is so close to the city, but it’s inaccessible to many people due to their socioeconomic status. We went up to the forest to select the trees and for our artisans it was their first time in the forest and the snow,” says Michele Liu, executive director of Would Works. They were inspired by the experience, and excited to salvage local resources that would otherwise go to waste to create furniture for their community. “It’s an opportunity to bring nature to people who need it the most,” says Liu.
Would Works aims to sell the sleek, sturdy benches, tables, and chairs to non-profit
housing and public resource centers, spaces that many of the artisans use or have
used. “This is furniture built by the community for the community,” says Liu. “They’re proud to see it in use.” Thanks to popular demand, the furniture is also available online to those seeking made-to-order contemporary backyard pieces. Proceeds from the furniture and other hand-crafted wooden housewares at support Would Works as it provides healing and paid job opportunities to its artisans.
To see the wood transform very quickly and feel that sense of accomplishment…it
makes you feel accomplished and competent,” says Marella, a Would Works artisan. “It makes you feel like you can achieve those longer life goals – the ones where you don’t see results so quickly.

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