The Dish

Women.Design.Build: Constructing Community

If you were a tool, what would you be and why? is a question you can hear bouncing around Women.Design.Build, an Austin-based nonprofit whose mission is to foster a community for women and girls to build skills, friendships, and confidence through design and construction activities. The “spirit tool” question, while somewhat silly, motivates creative thinking, self-reflection, and a bit of wit.

Women.Design.Build. (WDB) collaborates with local designers, business owners, and industry leaders who share their skills with the community. They offer workshops to the general public, as well as facilitating workshops for organizations who have a similar mission of educating and empowering women. Each partnership is tailored to the unique needs, interests, and sensitivities of these respective populations. Their ultimate goal is to encourage women of all ages to become strong leaders and thoughtful problem solvers, inspiring them to effect change in their own lives and communities.

The organization primarily serves four populations: young women, military widows, single moms, and the general public. They are currently partnering with Habitat For Humanity to create programs for women to hone their construction skills, while also fostering a community of women builders in Austin. WDB also works directly with the American Widow Project to facilitate educational workshops that empower this fun-loving group of ladies, providing them with the necessary curriculum to ignite passions and pursue dreams.

Women.Design.Build empowers single mothers through organizations like Saint Louise House, teaching them how to use tools and tackle basic maintenance projects. If this weren't enough, they offer a slew of DIY classes and a conversational workshop series for the general public called "Shop Talk", which provides building instruction directly from practitioners in the field.

What are they working on next? The ladies at WDB are developing a shop space on wheels, called Mobile Workshop, that will make design and building technologies, materials, and equipment readily available to WDB and greater communities. It’s open door design will transform schools and public parks into fully equipped shop spaces!

Through projects like these, founders Nicole Joslin and Christina Mirando, are continually creating opportunities for women to pursue the trades of design and building in a supportive, imaginative, and collaborative environment. Their fun, confidence creating and empowering workshops include things like deck-making, bowl turning, lamp-making, glass etching, floral arrangement and more. Check out their upcoming events or read more about them here.