Through the teaching of excellent building skills, Hammerstone School aims to empower women and non-women alike to use their bodies and minds for creative and useful ends. By increasing the skills of individual women, we hope to increase the number of women in the trades, and ultimately change workplaces for women in and outside of the trades.
Over the past few centuries, people have been losing skills as their functions are replaced by machines. While our standard of living has theoretically improved, many of us are dissatisfied with office jobs and the resulting disconnection from the physical work required to sustain ourselves.
While skills in the past were handed down from parents to children, this line has been broken for such a long time that we now have to reach across our community to gain vital experience from others. Hammerstone, as a farming enterprise as well as a carpentry school, is completely invested in sharing skills that increase the self sufficiency of community members.
One element of physical work is the process of creativity, intention and completion that goes into each project. As builders, we love our work. We get immersed in each project, and resurface to a feeling of pride in our accomplishment: finished pieces of function and beauty. Today, many items made of wood are machine-made in factories. As our culture re-learns to appreciate homegrown food and locally baked bread, Hammerstone School hopes to remind our community of our potential to create what we need with our own skills and strengths. In so doing, perhaps we can reestablish the value that these items deserve, and allow women and men to thrive both mentally and financially by fully engaging in our most basic pursuits.
Skills such as child rearing, farming, sewing, cooking and building all give the same creative and wholesome satisfaction to men and women alike. Unfortunately, in our culture, some of these skills are still considered “women’s work” while others are “men’s work.” Ignoring, for a moment, the disparate value that culture puts on women’s vs. men’s work, we at Hammerstone attempt to reverse the long term manifestation of the fact that boys are taught to build while girls are not. Part of the reason we teach carpentry to just women is to undo a societal trend of tremendous underemployment of women in the trades. The other reason we teach women-only courses is to give women a safe environment to learn, absent preconceptions about what they may or may not know or may or may not be capable of. The response from students from our first course onward have been overwhelmingly positive about the women only environment.