Building Beyond Code

The Sand Palace, a home built by Russell King and his nephew, Dr. Lebron Lackey, in Mexico Beach, Fl, fascinated the country in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Where nearly every home in the vicinity was wiped from the map by the monstrous category 4 storm, the Sand Palace was still standing.

The question on everyone’s mind was, “What was the difference? Why had this particular house survived?”and in interview after interview, the owners described their building process, recognizing that code requirements just weren’t enough to stop a huge storm. As they worked with architects, they carefully chose each building material and often didn’t choose the most popular “beachfront architecture-look.” They chose to have fewer windows, shorter balconies, etc. as they thoughtfully considered what was important beyond code requirements to keep a house standing in a hurricane.

The way these two men thought about building their home is very similar to the way we at EEE think about planning and building neighborhoods and communities through our research and policy initiatives. But our work aims to help communities weather a very different type of storm, concentrated poverty. This storm doesn’t just strike the coasts. It takes longer to do its damage, and requires much longer to fix the destruction in its path. It is a cycle of hardship that hits much more than the economy of a place. Like a crumbling foundation that leaves no part of a home unharmed, it affects all areas of the community - crime, income levels, housing, food accessibility, pollution and especially education.

Choosing to support an organization like Environmentalists for Effective Education is like choosing to invest in building a hurricane proof neighborhood instead of just going along with the current code for education today. Sure, supporting education in its different forms through taxes, scholarship and school donations, etc. is helpful and important. But getting down to the root issues of what causes concentrated poverty and putting supports and policies in place to strengthen communities before disaster hits is the essence of supporting the work of Environmentalists for Effective Education. Help us build stronger neighborhoods before disaster hits.

If you’re reading this, and you’re asking, “What economic disaster? What do schools have to do with concentrated poverty?” Take a minute to familiarize yourself with our work, and check out our quick TedTalk to learn more.

Here are concrete examples of how you are helping to build stronger communities when you support us this #givingtuesday.

In the past 18 months, donations and grants supported work like:

  • Funding research that engaged and promoted policy-oriented research at 3 universities.

  • Initiating conversations and partnerships with 6 other non-profit organizations to create educational materials, resources, and research

  • Creating new staff opportunities so more people could invest their time wholeheartedly to the vision of this organization and its daily tasks

To those of you who helped us make big strides in 2018, we are so very grateful, and we look forward to the exciting work ahead in 2019. Together, let’s build communities that can weather the storm and shelter the most vulnerable.