If You Build It is a documentary following the story of high school students in Windsor, a small and downtrodden rural town in Bertie County, North Carolina. In this setting, architects Emily Pilloton and Matt Miller started Project H, an educational initiative designed to not only improve the education of these disadvantaged young people, but also to reach out to the wider community and make real change.
Read on for more about Project H and the If You Build It documentary
As Emily Pilloton explains in her 2010 TED Talk, their relocation to Bertie County was driven by a three-part mission to improve education and community spirit in the area: the first two parts of consisted of designing better spaces for teaching, and in designing systems which allowed the school to become a pillar for the community to rally around; the third, and perhaps most radical, involved becoming teachers themselves. Students were taught how to identify areas of need in Windsor, and designed and built a farmers' market which addressed these needs.
It is this third part of the mission on which the documentary focuses. The students, many of whom were jaded by a standard education, were given a reason to go to school each day - and the community saw real, positive change in a town that had been slowly deteriorating for years. See the film's website for more information, including screening locations and dates.