After summer camp ended, we had two weeks to turn our school from summer camp and last year’s mess into a functional space that would support the needs of all the people in our Brightworks community, starting with the kids, of course. What followed was a whirlwind of moving, building, dumping, changing, and cleaning, that resulted – to everyone’s shock, amazement, and delight – in a gorgeous school that greeted returning and new students this morning, the first day of our second year.

The transformation has been a little mind-blowing and I wanted to share a brief photo timeline of the work we have done to make this place anew.

We started with a drawing from Gever’s notebook for new band spaces:


With four collaborators this year and thirty-two students starting, we needed several things from these spaces: focus, good workspace, cozy spots for curling up, storage, and the ability to display student work and collaborate on big paper. The answer, of course, was very Brightworks-obvious: treehouses! With tall rafters and 9,000 square feet to work with in our warehouse-school, each band’s treehouse would be two stories tall with walls that enclosed three sides on top and two on the bottom to provide that focus that is so hard to come by in an echoing warehouse and would be small enough to let each band of eight kids cozy up and use smaller spaces to come together, have conversations, and keep everyone in the same spot.

We began intense construction in the third week of August. Our friend and previous artist-in-residence Brian was the most fantastic foreman we could have ever asked for in the building process, and we met three other incredible builders – Schuyler, Todd and Brett – who put in long hours to get things done. The first steps included dump runs and purging unneeded materials from the space, piling up furniture, and trying to be strategic about what was put back first.




Things always get messier before they get clean. By the end of our staff orientation week, we had to plow through the materials and furniture that had oozed out of the space and onto the main floor.


Two band spaces up by Friday, and the third and fourth on their way.



Saturday night’s progress.


More things in the “Done” column of the To-Do board than in the “To-Do” columns, which was a good sign all week.



Moving the Artist-in-Residence box to its proper place on Sunday.




The cork floor was free of furniture by Sunday afternoon.


As was the center of the school.


Unfortunately we were a little further from being done…







But by the time ten o’clock rolled around and our cleaners had come, mopped twice, and gone, and we had cleared up as much of the clutter and unpresentable mess of garbage and unused materials behind a couple temporary walls (shh!), the school looked like this:


Ready and waiting to be occupied this morning – for the first day of school of our second year at Brightworks.

second year, first arc

We’ve been working hard this summer, between summer camps and Tinkering School and getting our minds and our school space around the idea of next year – which, if you’re counting, is twelve days away. We’re still scrambling to get the space ready after such a busy few months, but we’re doing it in a much happier, healthier, less manic way than we were last summer. It’s a race, but done in a way that we’ve come to accept as the Brightworks way.

On another note, I’d like to introduce our first arc of the year: SALT.

Whether we focus on the everyday roles salt plays in our cells, our food, our playdough, or the vast role salt has played in wars that have been fought, and world exploration through ships and wagon trains that was made possible because of food preservation, this topic is an incredible, tiny seed from which many ideas can grow and branch out to so many disciplines, stories, and discoveries.

We can’t wait to take this tiny grain of the only rock we eat and pursue it through geology, history, science, math, literature… and if you happen to be interested or knowledgeable about anything salty, please let us know by sending an email to

Looking forward to a great new year!

Salt Crystals