“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” – Sheila Marshall McKechnie; a Scottish trade unionist, housing campaigner and consumer activist.
Who knew sand, subsoil, water and straw would radically change a community?
Those four ingredients are the basic materials for a “cob” structure. If you are not familiar with that type of construction, it’s an ancient building technique that will last for hundreds of years as long as it’s located in a temperate climate. According to GreenPlanetEthics.com, cob structures are eco-friendly and can “provide strong, dry, durable dwellings that lend themselves to creative shapes. Therein lies cob’s charm: artistic builders can create sculptural buildings in creative, organic shapes.”
Within the west section of Oakland, CA, this unique building design has transformed a property underneath a highway overpass. As with many communities across the U.S., homelessness numbers continue to rise. On top of it, the COVID-19 pandemic made this problematic situation even direr. So a group of community members in Oakland stepped in to help the homeless population around them.
Several innovative solutions were birthed across the city, including “Cob on Wood” – a project consisting of beautiful cob structures used to provide food, healthcare, showers and a free “store” with living essentials to people residing in the homeless encampments around the area. An article, authored by Gabrielle Canon, was also featured in The Guardian newspaper titled, “Homeless Oaklanders were tired of the housing crisis. So, they built a ‘miracle’ village.”
It is certainly working like a miracle, and even has community support. Since breaking ground in early 2021, the property hosts events and workshops to get food, medicine, and other “normal lifestyle” resources to the homeless. The next stage is to host educational opportunities, including nutrition and cooking classes, skill-shares and career development.
“We believe that this place can serve as a model that this city and other cities can adopt to be able to replicate these ideas and create workforce development programs.”, says Xochitl Bernadette Moreno, co-founder of Essential Food and Medicine – one of the organizations behind Cob on Wood.
In our opinion, the best part of the project is giving the homeless a self-esteem boost to feel good about themselves again through work opportunities to earn their living rather than beg, steal or commit crimes to receive money. Self-worth is priceless, and each aspect of the cob project is designed to build value and dignity for people usually “forgotten” by the world.
To read the article and watch a six-minute video about “Cob on Wood,” containing interviews with the service providers and the homeless recipients, click here.
We, at Sheltering Grace, also understand the importance of building self-worth and creating transformational programs to help homeless mothers turn their lives around. We welcome donations to support us in doing that. Please contact us at 678-337-7858 to learn how you can help. Each mother and baby will be truly grateful for your kindness.
Sheltering Grace Ministry, Ltd. is a 501(c)3 Ltd. non-profit ministry. We resolve the initial crisis of homelessness by providing mothers with a safe place to live during pregnancy. We also equip them with the tools they need to improve decision-making, enhance employment options, and increase family income to act responsibly as the head of their household. All of our services develop their self-reliance to progress to permanent independent living. Please join us in renewing and rebuilding the lives of these brave women – #Be1of5000.