We have a new person just joining our team here at BrightBuilt Home. Lauren Downes hails from the far west(ern Mass), and is gamely ready to take on all the mountains (of design drawings) we can throw at her.
As a way to get to know her better, and to introduce her to our BrightBuilt family, we thought we'd ask Lauren some pointed questions. We were thoroughly entertained by her answers. We hope you will be too!
Tell us a little about yourself! Where are you from, where have you been, and how did you get here?
I grew up in a small town in Western Massachusetts and went on to study at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the Finger Lakes region of NY. I come from an amazing line of women with a deep appreciation for the environment and conservation – and who were still baggin’ peaks into their 80’s – which inspired me to work as a wilderness guide, start a wilderness conservation themed house, and get involved with other sustainability groups. Attending a liberal arts college gave me the opportunity to not just study architecture, but Spanish and Hispanic studies, LGBTQ+ studies, environmental studies, and study abroad twice: in Seville, Spain and Berlin, Germany. All of those experiences made me increasingly aware of the intersectionalities of sustainability, community resilience, and architecture. After graduation I started a remote certificate program in Sustainable Design through Boston Architectural College and decided to move to the beautiful city of Portland where I knew there was amazing sustainability work happening! A few months later, I couldn’t feel luckier to be a part of that work, and to be able to carry on the family legacy.
Why is Net Zero building important to you?
There is nothing more important to me than sustainability! There are millions of people on earth now that are suffering because of climate crises and environmental injustice. In most cases, it’s the already marginalized and vulnerable populations that are feeling the effects more severely and devastatingly than the primary producers of pollution and carbon. I believe we should do everything in our power to protect others and to ensure that future generations have the resources they need to survive.
Sometimes, the idea of sustainability can come across as “forfeiting” habits or comfort, but we need only shift our habits, and, in the long-run, living sustainably can be easier and lead to a happier and healthier life! Architecture plays such an important role in the solution, and Net Zero building is the perfect example of how living sustainably can lead to less work, all while living a healthier life and spreading awareness to others!
If given the option, which BrightBuilt design would you build and move into tomorrow?
The Torrey! There are so many design possibilities, and I’ve always preferred modest-sized living – in part because I love the rewarding task of making a space as multi-functional and efficient as possible! I believe functionality is more important than size, and that a well-designed home requires less space because it feels so much larger!
If the BrightBuilt Home team were to become stranded on a remote island, what role would you take on to ensure everyone’s survival?
Don’t worry Bright Built team! I’ll make sure we’re well-fed. My quarantine hobby has been learning plant identification and foraging. I also know how to start a fire from scratch, so I’d cook us up a mean wild-carrot soup.
A new sitcom about the daily antics of the BrightBuilt team has been picked up by all of the major networks. Who is cast as you?
I would hope Bridgette Lundy-Paine! She’s amazing in the series Atypical, plus she’s hilarious and does a lot of activism work to boot! She’s also my biggest celebrity crush, so my other motive may or may not be to get to meet her.
You have figured out how to place a BrightBuilt home anywhere; not just in terms of geographic location, but rather, on, under, over, inside, on top of, or beside anything. Where is the first place you set one?
I would put one “under” balloons, UP style, so I can take my BrightBuilt home with me everywhere. Plus, I hear balloon travel is a lot more sustainable than airplanes.
And most importantly: What fashion trend did you use to rock that you now wish you could delete from your past?
No regrets…but if you’re offering…this poncho I sewed in 5th grade. I had just learned to sew and I was dead-set on making a poncho. When I went to the fabric store I was instantly drawn to this 4-inch pile shag/fur material that was bright yellow with purple and pink polka dots. Very 2000’s. Not only did it shed everywhere (sorry mom and dad!) but in the end I looked like Big Bird. I even made a matching hat. I adored that poncho and wore it constantly for about a year, of course leaving behind a trail of yellow fur wherever I went.