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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 Apr 24, 2014 in Craftsmanship & Manual Labor, Work | 14 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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