On Construction

It's no secret that construction can be seriously difficult to get started, keep going, do right, and finish. When you start out for the permits all excited about the addition to your house, or the finishing touches on your new business, you walk into the permitting office all aglow, greeted by a room full of gloomily patient people once just like you. Tell says that Asheville is a particularly difficult place to get a permit. In some ways that could be in our favor, as long as it's not that way because of corruption. You know, keep things moving slow and keep rapid corporate growth at bay.

I was once under the assumption that everything can be broken down into parts. That once you set your mind to something, you make a plan of how to go about it and you get it done. Tools like Google and the experience of others make this world somewhat navigable for me. I found out that I am right about that, but wrong about a lot. Just because something is simple, or could be simple, doesn't mean it is going to be. Coming from school where questions are encouraged and often answered with sound information leads to the mindset that information is free for everyone. It's not. When it comes to navigating bureaucracy, which is what must happen to actualize an experience that involves a community, we are crushed. We have the rug pulled from beneath us in favor of those who know the way. Anyone outside the system stays outside the system. There is a whole culture of body language, casual and formal requests, the proper placement of forgiveness and permission, not to mention technical jargon. There is a precise order of steps to take and backs to scratch in order to make it through that ringer that is our System.

My pointing this out is not meant as a complaint. Luckily I have hind sight at this point in the particular construction project I am in, that means we got it done to a large degree. I can now look back and see my old struggles, see the questions all around me that I didn't know to ask, until I did. Like trial and error for over three months I tried to reason my way through, until finally I had asked enough questions about all sorts of things for someone to tell me I needed a Commercially Licensed General Contractor to do it for me. Good bye DIY! Once I hired my own good old boy to do it for me, I started to get somewhere. We re did everything I had done, this time along with an hourly rate.  I really appreciate the contractor I finally found, he is honest and straightforward, he talks to me with respect and gets his own hands dirty on the job site. But should I really need to hire someone to navigate for me?

There was no reason I couldn't have run the errands myself, accept that I haven't done it before. So if we just keep out everyone that hasn't done it before, then the system will keep working in a way that benefits the system. Ultimately it will be opposed to change because there won't be new eyes on it. Ultimately stagnation like this leads to corruption, because why not? This is the definition of discrimination, this is where the term "good old boys" comes from, this is the barricade on the lower class. All it takes to keep the door locked is for the information to be handed only to those who know the right questions and have been there before, introduced by a qualified member. Those who know how to work here are taught directly and socialized to know. They are lavished tonka trucks and coached not to cry. They are on the sports teams and lead the business clubs. They are taken seriously. They shake hands with the leaders before them, who approve of their likeness and only their likeness as plausible replacements. They are white men.

Is it their fault? No. It's like the coffee grits settling to the bottom of the cup. The power must settle somewhere. It takes stirring to maintain diversity; we have to go out of our way to redistribute the knowledge of how to build this world if we want it to reflect the priorities of the masses. Men, women, children, and minorities alike.

Thanks for reading, please comment!


Bethany Adams
Bethany Adams


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