I first learned about the Builders Blitz last winter: My local builders association teamed up with Habitat for Humanity of Cape Cod to build one house in one week, an ambitious goal for any group. I was initially interested in swinging a hammer with the team, but they quickly recruited me to photograph the process, something I was probably much better suited for. The Blitz was set to begin on September 23, and the Friday before I strategically set up staging to capture the project with a time-lapse camera.
That Monday arrived with the framing crew chomping at the bit to get started. I got the time-lapse set up, and then Vicki, our Habitat director, appeared and convened everyone on site for the "Devotion," with a cheerful gray-haired lady delivering a brief talk and a short prayer. These morning exercises turned out to be something that I actually looked forward to every day, not so much as a religious activity, but as moment of centering and focus for all of us there.
The week progressed pretty close to schedule with a dizzying bustle of activity every day. All in all, it seemed like a pretty normal jobsite, albeit greatly compressed in time. Mistakes were made—and fixed, problems occurred and were overcome quickly and creatively, and the workers went about their jobs with precision and efficiency. The one thing that did seem slightly abnormal was that everyone seemed to go out of their way to get along. Flooring was being put down literally under the feet of carpenters, electricians and plumbers, yet I did not hear a single angry or frustrated voice the entire week. Despite a frenzied atmosphere that would have precipitated outbursts on any jobsite, everyone worked with a singular purpose, freely and cheerfully giving of their time and talents.
I never got the chance to swing a hammer that week, but instead just added to the bedlam by being in the way with my camera—although no one really seemed to mind. I took hundreds of stills that week, and the time-lapse movie turned out better than I expected—I was happy and proud to have done my part in the project with the best skill set I had to offer. The house was finished on schedule, and the Dedication Ceremony took place in the Saturday sunshine, just 6 days after the Blitz began. The homeowners—a wonderful couple with two small children—moved in that afternoon, still stunned by the warmth and generosity of all the skilled people who pulled off this small miracle and made their dream of home ownership come true.