Emily Pilloton: Fear Less, Build More

Figure 1 Emily Pilloton Founder and Executive Director of Project H Design and Girls Garage.jpg

Woman holding out her hands full of ink.

Emily Pilloton, founder and executive director of Project H Design and Girls Garage. Photo courtesy of @Project H Design/Girls Garage

Emily-Pilloton-NEA ARTS-Final.mp3

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Designer and builder Emily Pilloton believes deeply in design-based education, learning by doing and work benefitting the community. To that end, she founded Project H Design—a nonprofit aimed at bringing design projects to local neighborhoods and supporting experiential learning for kids through hands-on design and building projects that would benefit their community. Pilloton took this concept into the high school classroom with Studio H. First launched in Bertie County, North Carolina, and now based at Realm Charter School in Berkeley, California, Studio H students apply their high school core curriculum to design and build socially transformative projects.

But Pilloton noticed that girls hung back and allowed boys to take the initiative and realized that in her own career as a builder and designer, she saw women exhibiting this same reticence. So, five years ago, she did something to change the gender dynamic: she created a girls-only after-school design and build program, Girls Garage, a place where girls could learn to “fear less” and “build more.”

Listen to Pilloton talk about what the girls do, how they do it, and what she and the girls have learned over the past five years.

In a large open space, a group of high school girls construct furniture.

The workshop interior of Girls Garage. Photo courtesy of @Project H Design/Girls Garage

A group of girls standing around a table filled with wooden robots that they made.

A robot project at Girls Garage. Photo courtesy of @Project H Design/Girls Garage