Jan 18, 2023
In this episode of the What If Series, we are asking some big questions around using your experience and skills to start something completely new or get imaginative on how you can positively affect your community with what you already have. What do you bring to the table with the whole totality of your experience that could be a force of good for your community or for the people around you?
Our guest is leader and teacher Emily Pillton-Lam, an inspiring thinker and author of several books and creator of the nonprofit – Girls Garage. She’s taught thousands of gender expansive youth how to use power tools and to dream of a world built more equitably and sustainably, and she’s dreamt about what it would look like if girls/women were empowered to facilitate the surroundings in our world differently–with an eye toward thinking more communally and factoring in the lived experience of the people around them.
In this episode Emily and Jen discuss:
Emily gives us insight into the big “what if” question we might all ask ourselves: what if we could affect our world with the skills and experience we have right now?
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“I think what I discovered through the act of building was both the physical power of it, like I could build something that was tangible and I could point to it and say I built that and we built that as a group of people, working together. Also, this was one of the first times where I looked around and there were other teenagers who were diverse, who were from all over the country, who had all kinds of various family stories, school experiences and yet, we were all on this construction site, building this thing together and it just felt ... like a light went off. This is the thing that makes me feel powerful and purposeful and that I don't have to check who I am at the door, that I could be my full self. So that's the gift that I think construction gave to me at a young age, and it's a gift that I have committed my adult life to paying forward and paying back and giving back to other young people." - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“For women, a lot of our lives are influenced by, or sometimes dictated by how we view our bodies in the world.” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“So this is how I think about power tools. Of course, they're fun, they're exciting to learn, but they're like a real metaphor for what women can do and what women can contribute in the world in a physical way.” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“I think going to an art school and studying architecture was the thing that then set me up to start a nonprofit that was rooted in who I was, but also, this larger idea about service that would bring other people in too.” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“I got to work with people that sometimes I didn't agree with. I got to be in rooms where I sometimes didn't belong. I learned a lot from those couple years where I wasn't doing what I ultimately wanted to do.” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“One of the first things that you see when you walk [into Girls Garage], in our reception area, on the left-hand wall, there's a tiled wall, there's all these wood tiles and every tile has the name of a student who's been here and there's like a thousand of them. So you walk in and your name is literally on the wall, alongside hundreds of other girls, so you don't ever have to doubt that you belong here.” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“What matters to me is that no matter where you end up, you've been in a place where you know what it feels like to be seen and respected. Then, you can go and demand that when you don't feel that way later.” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“It's actually incredibly hopeful to me when I think, what would the world look like if it was built by women or by more people of color or by people with differing physical abilities or people of different ages.” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“I firmly, firmly believe that a world designed by women is a world designed for everyone…women think about space and think about belonging and public space in a very different way, and it's often more equitable, often more communal and more considerate of the human experience..” - Emily Pilloton-Lam
“Women are good for the world, period. We think communally, we think about our neighbor. We think about the lived experience of the people around us in a way that's really special and specific.” - Jen Hatmaker
Emily Pilloton-Lam's Website
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
Connect with Jen!