Category Archives: architecture

A little bit about us – Part 3: Dan’s Story

Dan’s story, while it has many differences to Bill’s, also has many similarities. His story begins over 20 years ago in 1988 with Dan founding  Mission to Mexico, a non-profit organization that began with 14 people building a few homes for needy families in Mexico. M2M has grown now to over 125 people traveling each Spring Break to give back to the families of Mexico. M2M has built  60 homes, 2 churches, and orphanage and a medical clinic. Dan has also traveled to help with disaster relief in Honduras and he and Bill are planning a trip soon to Haiti. World 3 Homes initially sprang out of this sort of service and giving back.

Speaking about M2M, Dan says “it changes our way of thinking about what we have. What we try to share with adults as well as the kids is that turning on a light switch is a luxury, that flushing a toilet is a luxury.”

But perhaps more importantly, is the change that takes place in the families that receive a new, roughly 400 square foot home. Most of the families M2M builds for are living in cardboard boxes and scrap tin — whatever they can scavenge. Eighty percent of the families are headed by a single mother.

Commenting on the encouragement for everyone to go on this type of trip, Dan wants us to know that “it’s life changing for the people who go.”

It truly is.

A little bit about us – Part 2: Bill’s Story

My story related to  giving back really began in February 1995 when myself and my wife, Brenda, and a small team went to Romania to remodel an Orphanage in downtown Bucharest. The orphanage, Orasul Speranti (which means City of Home in Romanian) was the first of several humanitarian arms of the Children’s Relief Network. Probably the best way to describe how that affected me was outside the orphanage, it was like TV where everything was in black and white, then when we stepped into Orasul Speranti’s building, it switched to color.

That trip also helped me realize just how much we in developed countries have. We take for granted the fact that we have shoes and can drink the water here. And so that made an indelible impression on me. Since 1995, I have been back to Romania one more time to help construct a children’s home, to Djibouti to install medical equipment in the only hospital in the country and to Uganda as part of an advance team to lay the ground work for an intensive care addition to the regional hospital in Jinja.

In the ensuing 15 years since that first trip, I’ve personally felt a certain uneasiness in myself looking to do more. Realizing, as I said, just how much we have, there has been something in my gut that has been pressing me to go beyond, to get out of my comfort zone some more and give even more back.

That’s why World 3 Homes is close to my heart and soul.

A little bit about us – Part 1: Career History

In March, 1983, myself, Bill Randall and Dan Hill started an architectural firm, Arbor South in Eugene, Oregon. We both had a passion for energy efficient design and good architecture. And so we started our career together. We achieved early success, with some design awards in the first couple of years of our business, including a national award for a small, energy-efficient cluster subdivision in Eugene.

As our career progressed, we went through the 1980s and into the 1990s and, like many in our culture, kind of got caught up into the excesses of that era. Not that we totally abandoned our desire for energy efficiency or solar tempering, but I have to admit we drifted away from our roots somewhat.

But a couple of things stayed ingrained in our psyches: our passion for truly good, sustainable architecture and our passion to give back out of our plenty. We always wanted to create good architecture. Functional art, if you will, not just some ego statement. And I think over the years, we achieved that goal. And I think we came full circle on that with our recent LEED Platinum home, theSAGE, which achieved all sorts of accolades and press.

Secondly, we never really lost sight of the blessings we have living in this first world country. So our journeys took us not only down the path of good architecture, our journeys took us down a parallel path of also giving back to those in need. Both Dan and myself have held that as a high priority in our lives and I’ll talk about that in my next few posts.

But the past couple of years, we have each felt a growing uneasiness with the status quo. Success is one thing, but significance is something entirely different. The downturn in the economy has given us the time and the opportunity to reevaluate our business and just where we really want to go in these next 28 years.

So we started World 3 Homes. I’ll speak to Dan and my personal histories in the next two posts and a little bit about the origins of World 3 Homes after that. So sit back and hear our story.