neckdownweek

A Neckdown to Rain-member

Student mixing soil

It’s that time of year again…time for Spring “Neckdown” Week! It was a damp week all around Newbern, but the weather didn’t slow us down. All of the students and faculty got their hands dirty helping out.

Around Morrisette House, the Farm got plenty of attention and preparation for the coming growing season. We pulled out cover crops, tarped beds in the field, and started seeds in the greenhouse when the rain caught up to us. The front fence even got a facelift!

Work on the Fabrication Pavilion was one of the biggest Neckdown tasks this semester. A rotating crew of students spent time reinforcing each column to get ready for the pavilion’s second phase. There was almost as much scaffolding as people on site…

Other spots around town got some love too! The model homes and Newbern Town Hall both had facelifts, with lots of cleaning and repainting all around.

Another one of the main (and muddy!) projects for the week happened at Perry Lakes Park. The park boardwalk now has brand-new boards in place, ready for anyone who wants to come visit.

Now that Neckdown is behind us for the semester, it’s time to really dive into the projects. Keep up with each team’s blog posts to see where this spring takes us!

People carrying lumber through woods

Neck-up, down, ALL around

This fall semester students really hit the ground running during “Neckdown” Week! There was so much to do, and so much done by the new crowd. On Morrisette campus, the RS Farm had helpers weeding, harvesting, and giving the crops some extra attention. The Great Hall got a fresh coat of paint, and the Fabrication Pavilion was emptied, cleaned, and reorganized to get ready for the new year.

Elsewhere in Newbern and Uniontown, even more painting! The town tornado shelter was thoroughly cleaned and repainted, and it looks better than ever. And after a new coat of paint, the Newbern Playground is now home to the official biggest pencil in West Alabama! In Uniontown, the C.H.O.I.C.E. House was getting final touch-ups as the team pushed to their finish line.

The week’s most important task was relocating all of our studio equipment from Newbern to Greensboro. This semester will be the first in a beautiful new studio building while Red Barn gets some updates. That means desks, computers, EVERYTHING was loaded up and taken out! Students and staff all pitched in to get the new studio ready for presentations, with pin-up boards hung and furniture arranged.

Of course, the week ended with a celebratory catfish lunch.

students and staff eating lunch

Everyone is excited to settle in as our 30th year of work begins! Stay tuned this fall to see 5th-year workshops, 3rd-year progress on Rosie’s Home, and leftovers getting in the ground for the RS Bathhouse and 18×18 House!

Neck Up And Down

Student smiling sitting on metal stairs

Hale County has been scrubbed, painted, and shined twice over this week. The first “Neckdown Week” of 2023 is complete! We spent the week maintaining community projects around Newbern and Greensboro alike. In Greensboro, the Safe House Black History Museum got a fresh coat of paint. The Newbern Firehouse, Bodark Amphitheater, and Newbern Playground were also cleaned and repainted.

One of our biggest tasks for Neckdown Week was building a new set of raised garden beds in the Rural Studio Farm Greenhouse. It took a lot of hands and shovels, but the Farm is now ready for a new planting season. The team also found some surprises hiding in the soil. We took a brief mid-week intermission from diggin’ and paintin’ to help Patriece’s Home team unload some of their roofing material. The projects are still moving right along as we all get our hands dirty!

It was a long week of early mornings. But there was plenty of time for fun (and sometimes, cake) while we took care of this place we call home. Neckdown Week was a perfect warm-up for what’s looking like a great semester. Our students and faculty are ready to really get to work! Follow along to see what spring brings for all of the current projects: Patriece’s Home, C.H.O.I.C.E. House, Rosie’s Home, 18×18 House, and Rural Studio Bathhouse.

Heads up! “Neckdown” Week is complete!

Last week was a busy one out in Newbern. We kicked off the semester with the time-honored tradition of “Neckdown” Week. “Neckdown” is a week where the thinking caps come off and the gloves go on for a week of physical tasks working in the community and on the Rural Studio campus. It’s also a time for current 5th-years to meet the Spring 3rd-year crew.

The week started with some housekeeping around home base where teams worked to replace boards on the Great Hall, tidy up the pods, and help out on the farm.

We also took some time to spruce up past projects like Lions Park, which was started in the early 2000s. The baseball fields at Lions Park have some brand new bleacher seats, the bathrooms are back in working order, and to everyone’s delight, the concession stand opens as well as ever!

Additionally, a small group ventured out to Perry Lakes Park—Rural Studio’s first large-scale, multi-phase landscape project—to do some work on the bathrooms (still the best loo view in Alabama!). The park is open again after a brief hiatus due to storm damage, so go check out the view for yourself!

We rounded out the week with a helping hand over at the Newbern Library, the town’s main social center and source of technological amenities, thus ending a long week of hard, but worthwhile work.

P.S. Next time you speed into Morrisette House’s driveway, send a thank you to our fearless leader, Andrew Freear, who took to tamping the driveway like a champ. (We hear his bones are still rattling as we write this.)

Fall 2021 Neckdown Week

three young people stand together smiling wearing hard hats and harneses

This semester, Neckdown Week was as productive as ever, with the sun shining on us all week long. Neckdown is a studio tradition, during which all students and faculty work together to mend, clean up, or push forward our past and current projects. This time around we worked on student projects in Newbern and sent teams all the way out to Perry Lakes Park in Marion, AL.

At Perry Lakes Park, we cleaned up debris from a big storm that hit the park last year. We also worked on the plumbing for the bathrooms, which included a lot of digging. And we mean A LOT. Up on the Perry Lakes Birding Tower, we finally completed our objective of replacing all the rotten boards that we began removing during Neckdown last year! We hope all of you will be able to come visit the beautiful park as soon as it reopens in the very near future.

Back in good ole Newbern, teams of helpers working a several maintenance projects at our headquarters at Morrisette House. A few teams also worked alongside Eric at the Rural Studio Farm constructing raised garden beds. These beds, made from concrete blocks, are very time consuming to build correctly, and our helpers worked hard in the sun to make them look good and function well! We’d also like to give a shoutout and a big thank you to all of the Auburn University Landscape Architecture students and faculty who came out to Hale County to help us nourish Rural Studio’s outdoor spaces. The AULA cohort not only helped out at the Farm and Morrisette property, but they also worked in our courtyards in downtown Newbern and at Lion’s Park in Greensboro. Our plants and ground surfaces would not be as happy as they have been lately without you all. Thank you!

Our recent graduates also took advantage of a few Neckdown helpers this week to make some progress finishing up their projects! With assistance from new 3rd and 5th-year’s capable hands, our three “leftover” teams accomplished a huge amount of work! The Thermal Mass & Buoyancy Ventilation Research Project team constructed two sets of stairs that lead down into their cooling porch. They also worked on installing battens on the exterior of their Research Pods!

The Myers’ Home team installed tongue-and-groove cypress boards on their interior core walls, and they worked with their helpers to nail their exterior flashing in place. Siding is coming up next for these folks. At Rev. Walker’s Home site, the team completed a massive amount of earth work in order to prep their site for its final grading. This process also included creating an outdoor gravel patio for their client to create a smooth transition from concrete slab to the adjacent ground surface.

Thank you to all the students, staff, and faculty that made all of this work possible this week!