Women Building : Building Women

It’s true that most people have a time in their lives they can identify and say, “That was the moment I stepped into my power.”

For some, it was becoming a mother or ending a relationship that no longer served them, but for me it was learning how to build. When I discovered my power, I finally felt at home. In 2012, I spent four months in Flat Rock, NC, at a Women’s Natural Building Apprenticeship learning to build and live in community with an incredible group of people. We ate together, worked together, and adventured together, and at the end of that time I was one strong lady! I walked into it feeling completely disempowered (as many women often experience), and I left realizing I could do anything with the support of my friends and community. As I moved on to my next steps, I realized my calling was to build intentional, responsible, and empowering structures within communities; thus, ‘Build Like a Bird’ was born.

I, Karen George, owner/builder/instructor at Build Like a Bird Natural Building LLC (buildlikeabird.com), have spent the last five years exploring and building everything from tiny homes to timber frames. I have traveled from New York to Utah to Nicaragua, spending time in communities and constructing buildings around people’s needs, and I now have a strong desire to invest in my own community here in WNC, specifically the women of this community. The backbone of my business lies solidly on the belief that we are all capable creators. We can do anything we put our mind to, especially if our community has the resources to support us in the process! We can build our own homes, tiny or not. We can learn how to move the cabinets in our kitchen around to find a better flow. We can even completely shift our career focus midstream if it feels necessary and right. We. Can. Do. Anything. Together.

I realized my calling was to build intentional, responsible, and empowering structures within communities
A few years back I taught a Basic Carpentry for Women class, and it was one of the top five building experiences I have had. The women I taught enlivened me. We learned so much from working together. I loved having a safe space for women to learn and grow. Delving into a traditionally male-dominated realm can feel scary and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. On the contrary, it can feel powerful and exciting! Imagine a space where women could gather and help each other with their home projects. What about a basic power tools birthday party? Or a weekend children’s project party? Okay, maybe it’s just my love of building that I want so desperately to share with others, but I really think the experience of tool competency makes people feel capable! What it’s truly about is learning how to learn again – remembering how to meet a new experience with excitement and inquisitiveness instead of anxiety and fear.

“But I don’t know anyone who can teach me to learn how to do some basic building,” you say. Well, now you know me, and I want to know you. I want us to “Do It Together!” Do It Together is a program through Build Like a Bird where we tackle a building project together. Instead of hiring me to do a project for you, you’d hire me to teach you how and do it with you! I want you to tell me something you’ve always wanted to do. I’ll bring the tools and the know-how, and together we will work it out! You’ll learn by doing, feel more confident in yourself and your capabilities, and maybe even help a friend when you’re done! Women are smart, strong, vital creatures, and we need to support each other and remind ourselves of our worth.

The most profound lesson I have learned in the last five years hasn’t been about building at all. It has been learning how to learn! Building has just been a vehicle for that learning. I arrive at situations everyday (as we all do) where I have to step back and have a beginner’s mind. I have to be a problem solver. I have to be humble, and I have to be willing. Some days that’s a hard place to land, and I am always grateful for the opportunity to be supported in my learning and my growth. I hope we can support each other, and I am always eager to see what opportunity lies around the bend.

If you’re interested in doing a project together, or in working with me, you can email me at george.karen22@gmail.com or check out my website at BuildLikeaBird.com. Let me know what you have in mind, and we can meet up to talk about the possibilities!

Karen George lives in Asheville, NC where she enjoys playing her banjo and spending time in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She loves to travel, build creatively, and work in community.

Written by Karen George