The Fourth River


myers 6

When does bearing witness become exploitative? When does action take place? When do we stop saying, “Look here, look here,” and start saying, “We must do something about this”? In March 2009, the Saginaw Habitat for Humanity decided its efforts would be better spent dismantling homes, instead of building them. Their volunteers who are trained to put homes together learned to work in reverse, pulling out the nails, instead of hammering them in. Stripping siding, pipes, and copper. Anything re-usable. They committed to tearing down two houses per week, each week, for two years. That’s 208 houses when all is said and done. In the meantime, they will also build or refurbish eight homes a year. The NY Times reported there were at least 800 empty houses in Saginaw, while local estimates have been upwards of 3,000.