The New Urban Guild recently held a charrette with developer Joel Embry to design and build a culinary school, affordable cottages, and an urban farm on a parcel a couple of miles from downtown for an homeless shelter in Jacksonville, Florida. Architect Steve Mouzon tells the story of why the Clara White Mission is so inspiring.
"The coolest thing about the charrette wasn't anything we did, but rather what the Mission is already doing: They feed roughly 500 people per day, and they make the assumption that if someone is homeless, they probably have employability issues for some reason or another. And so they've started a jobs training program. The janitorial program might come as no great surprise, but how about this: they also have... a culinary school!"
"Once someone enters either school, they house them in the Mission's dormitory for the duration of the courses. And they train by cooking for those 500 people per day. They also cook for another venue 'the cafe,' ... where anyone can come on the weekends and buy a meal. And they're good at what they do: they provided most of the meals during the charrette, and they were delicious! The bottom line, of course, is that they're taking people that need to be fed and turning many of them into feeders. I find that exceptionally cool.