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Posted by on Mar 23, 2016 in Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Work | 0 comments

Let There Be Light: How Karla Nugent Is Transforming the Trades

Let There Be Light: How Karla Nugent Is Transforming the Trades

“Come, let me show you around.” As we rise from the conference table, Karla Nugent—cofounder of Weifield Group Contracting, a commercial electrical company in Denver—leads me into the pre-fabrication shop. Coils, wires, and electrical boxes are being assembled for installation. The only woman in the room of more than a dozen men, Nugent introduces me to employee Justin Hales. “Electrical work is art,” Hales, an electrician’s apprentice, tells me. “Two years ago, they put me on the platform at Union Station. I would lay out the floors, locate everything, like a switch or outlet on the wall. “When you turn your pipes, make them uniform—that’s art.” He pauses. “It probably goes unnoticed to the average person, but we see it. We take pride in our work.” Nugent co-founded Weifield in 2002 alongside three business partners. Since then, the company has grown to 250 employees and has emerged at the forefront of electrical construction. For example, Weifield was behind the Net Zero, a LEED-Platinum research facility at the National Renewable...

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Posted by on Jan 8, 2016 in Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Work | 4 comments

Want an Affordable Home? Thank a Craftsman

Want an Affordable Home? Thank a Craftsman

  What is causing soaring home prices in Denver right now? This is the question on many would-be buyers’ minds. In June, the average home price in Denver was $366,419 — the highest in Colorado state history. The Denver City Council has spent significant time trying to find solutions to the shortage of affordable housing. (Recently, The Denver Post reported that Mayor Michael Hancock wants to raise $15 million a year to subsidize projects as part of a much larger plan.) But how did we get here? My wife and I asked our real estate agent, Trish Hopkins of RE/MAX, the same question. As we sat down to coffee, expressing our woeful prospects of ever finding a house we could afford, Hopkins said at least one problem is obvious. Inventory. She told us the average number of houses on the market for the Denver area is around 12,000 at any given time. Right now, it’s less than 3,500. With Colorado’s population boom, it just comes down to math. So...

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Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 in Art, Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Culture, Economy, Education, Finance, Media, Nonprofit, Politics, Science, Technology, Theology, Work, World | 0 comments

Announcement: Launch of the 5280 Fellowship

Announcement: Launch of the 5280 Fellowship

Today is a big day. Today my colleagues and I at Denver Institute for Faith & Work, in partnership with Gordon College, announce the launch of the 5280 Fellowship, a 9 month experience for emerging leaders beginning in the fall of 2016. After years of planning, design and forging partnerships, each element of the program has fallen into place. And now what we are now offering is, I believe, one of the best faith-based fellowship programs in the US, and perhaps Denver’s premiere leadership experience for young professionals. I know those are big claims. But I believe the 5280 Fellowship has the potential to deeply impact Denver for generations to come. And I’m not alone. Some of Denver’s finest pastors – like Robert Gelinas (Colorado Community Church), Brad Strait (Cherry Creek Presbyterian), Rob Brendle (Denver United), Brian Brown (Park Church) and Hunter Beaumont (Fellowship Denver) – believe the Fellowship can be a life-changing experience for young professionals who want to deeply engage themes of calling, work, and culture. Young...

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Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Economy | 0 comments

Consumerism: What Do People Really Want?

Consumerism: What Do People Really Want?

Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on Consumerism Gone Wild. It was first published on patheos.com.  Perhaps the best response to wealth disparity in America today can be summarized in two words: Karla Nugent. Karla is the Chief Business Development Officer at Weifield Group Electrical Contracting in Denver. In 2014, she won the Denver Business Journal’s 2014 Corporate Citizen of the year award. Why? Denver’s economy is booming, and as the economy has required more skilled laborers, Weifield has hired more electricians. In the building boom, Karla saw a chance to serve. Behind Karla’s leadership, Weifield opened up a philanthropic arm that donates to four communities: women & children, head of household, military and “less fortunate.” But they also brought the needs of the community right into their company. She created an apprentice program in partnership with Denver Rescue Mission, Stout Street, and Peer One – local nonprofits that work with the homeless, formerly incarcerated and other at-risk communities. Weifield hires people coming out of homeless or other at-risk...

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Posted by on Jul 25, 2014 in Craftsmanship & Manual Labor | 7 comments

The Handcrafted Gospel

The Handcrafted Gospel

  Recently I bought a small, red cabinet for my wife and kid’s homeschool books. It was from IKEA, so how hard could assembly really be? Yet in only 20 minutes, I had managed to drill three holes in the wrong side of the red cabinet door. My wife took the project away from me, and  assembled it for herself. I have concluded that I not only lack a manual and spacial intelligence, but that I’ve significantly undervalued those who build just about everything I see. My respect for our culture’s craftsmen has grown – especially since Christ Horst and myself recently did an article for Christianity Today entitled “The Handcrafted Gospel.” The editor chose the subtitle “Meet the craftsmen reclaiming the honor of manual labor.” In our culture, “honor” and “manual labor” don’t often go hand in hand. We steer our students away from ‘tech schools’, believe thinking is for the office, not the shop, and have precious few “faith and work” events for electricians, contractors, carpenters or plumbers. Yet there is...

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Posted by on Apr 24, 2014 in Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Work | 13 comments

How We Lost the Craftsman

How We Lost the Craftsman

  It was a crisp, winter morning and I stood outside Manual High School, traditionally one of Denver’s lowest performing schools. Along with twelve other seminary students on an urban ministry site visit, we listened to our professor. “Manual is one of Denver’s oldest institutions,” he said, pointing to the brick edifice. “It opened in 1896, and was named Manual because it was originally intended as a vocational school to train students for manual labor.” We quietly shook our heads in disbelief. How could educators have such low expectations for their students? Didn’t the founders believe all students could go to college? So great was our 21st century disdain for manual labor that we naturally connected Manual High School’s low academic performance with its original intent: preparing students for the manual trades. Americans today devalue manual labor with an almost righteous indignation. We can see it in our economy, in our schools, in our entertainment, and even in the church. And it’s causing all sorts of problems. Let’s take...

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