Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"If You Build It": The Purpose of the Class Is to Build the Class 

Wednesday, Feb 26 2014
Comments

If You Build It Our first introduction to Emily Pilloton in Patrick Creadon's documentary If You Build It is in the context of a TED Talk she gave in 2010. Though she lays out the back-story for the film, If You Build It soon settles into a more traditional documentary structure (and thus doesn't become just an augmented TED speech, thank goodness). What happened was, in 2010 the Superintendent of Schools of North Carolina's poorest county brought in Pilloton and her partner Matthew Miller to teach a hands-on construction and design class, hoping to inspire the students to think in terms of the positive impact they can have on their community. The school board soon sacked the superintendent, but Pilloton and Miller hung on, eventually leading the kids in a project to build their town a much-needed farmers' market. We get to know many of the kids and townsfolk, but the truly fascinating conflict is the fact that while Pilloton is perhaps more charismatic than Miller, Miller (by his own admission) assimilates better into North Carolina because he's a white guy wearing a baseball cap, while Pilloton is a half-Asian woman from California. If You Build It is not ultimately about that struggle, but it makes what her, Miller, and the kids are able to accomplish all the more remarkable.

About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Slideshows

  • U2 @ SAP Center in San Jose
    Last night U2 performed the first U.S. date of it’s Innocence + Experience tour at SAP Center in San Jose. All four band members were present despite recent injuries sustained by both Bono and Edge. The sold out show took audience members on a walk down memory lane as the band revisited their roots. The innovative stage and lighting used gave the arena show an intimate feel, and engaged audience members in all sections of the venue. Photographs by Sugarwolf.
  • Bay to Breakers 2015 - NSFW
    The 103rd annual Bay to Breakers 12K race was packed on Sunday despite the cold weather. With a starting point a few blocks from The Embarcadero, people dressed as bananas, Elvis and everything in between ran west through the city and finished at the Great Highway where breakers crash onto Ocean Beach.

    Photographs by Christopher Victorio.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed