To say you live with brio, you must exemplify strength, spirit, life, action, passion and energy. And that’s exactly what’s required when thinking outside the box—or tent—to create warm, dry micro housing for unhoused individuals. In Olympia, BrioEarth and Earth Homes shared strengths on a recent partnership for downtown residents in need.
Their work together came through an introduction from Briotech’s Chief Medical Officer. “The Micro-Housing Project and work by Earth Homes LLC was brought to BrioEarth’s attention by Dr. Eric Rasmussen,” says Cynthia Varela, Briotech co-founder. “As BrioEarth had previously provided support to the Build-A-Bus-Home Project, we were familiar with the particular needs of the unhoused within Thurston County. Through Dr. Rasmussen’s introduction, we met Aaron Sauerhoff, founding board member of BABH and founder/CEO of Earth Homes, and toured his manufacturing facility. We were immediately enamored with Aaron and his team. Their passion, hard work, and ingenuity poured into this project. From that meeting, it was clear that BrioEarth could help make a positive difference to the Micro-Housing Project, and we were honored to do so.”
Varela and her team, along with Briotech’s other co-founder, Dan Terry, are no strangers to projects like these. But this one was special. “What stands out most in my mind is how our BrioEarth team, with decades of manufacturing experience between us, was completely impressed with Earth Homes’ ingenuity throughout all phases of production,” says Varela. “The Earth Homes team took a deep look at the real and important needs the unhoused faced, and they worked to design well-made, secure, and warm micro-homes that offered their residents cheery, colorful dignity.”
As with any project on both a civic and community-wide scale, there were ups and downs. “This was our first public works project, and the learning curve to navigate layers of bureaucracy felt evident a few times,” admits Rabi Verdante, Earth Homes executive officer. “Governments and private businesses operate so differently on some levels, and this was an exciting area of growth to take part in a public-private collaboration.”
But on the individual side, there were many successes. “One surprising and exciting aspect of the contract we were able to negotiate with the City was a budget to hire workers from the Mitigation Site to put resources and opportunity into the hands of those who otherwise see drastic obstacles to employment,” says Verdante. “We called the initiative the Employment Program for the Recovering. Its original vision included 20 people for one full-time week of work; instead, what ended up happening was six consistent people showed up for about four months and contributed deeply to production.”
Using workers who would live on-site was a blessing for both sides. “This program was so effective, its budget was almost doubled by the end of the contract and one of these workers is now our full-time employee,” says Verdante. “The chance to establish a relationship within a public project enabled a lot of trust and coherence.”
Once the homes were complete, BrioEarth donated a lifetime supply of sanitizing products that are placed in wall-mounted holsters within each home. When it’s time to restock, Earth Homes helps coordinate and deliver the product enabling what Verdante calls “a mini-reunion.”
Briotech has long fostered an atmosphere of caring. “We have always been intent on making a positive difference in the world however possible and through our foundation, BrioEarth, we work to fulfill the edict that ‘if you can do good, you should,” says Varela. “We have seen the changes that have taken place across the state and the dire challenges that our residents and unhoused face. We praise Aaron Sauerhoff and his team at Earth Homes for their meaningful community work and we are thrilled that BrioEarth can step in to assist.”
This is echoed by the work and mission of Earth Homes. “In addition to Briotech, we have formed partnerships and alliances within the Faith community to connect those seeking support with those offering it,” explains Verdante. “Through our Technology Working Group, we aspire to create the most streamlined and affordable version of this shelter while still offering insulated, level, locking space to Unpack It All.”
“Not everyone is ready for, wants or can maintain a house or apartment,” Verdante continues, “but this shouldn’t invalidate their existence and preclude their safety and care. May we live in a world where a diversity of housing types and arrangements is embraced, and people have the dignified room to grow through what they’re going through in happiness and health!”
You can see photos and videos or donate to the homes via the Earth Homes website. Building space was offered by the Port of Olympia and between January and June, more than 150 people worked hard on this vital project.
Have questions about an Earth Homes of your own? Contact them online or through Facebook to see other sites and learn about their unique building style. You can shop for Briotech’s cosmetic, cleaning, and disinfecting products through their website or on Amazon. They also post updates, new sales locations and more on Facebook.
Changing the world is possible, one step at a time. Rally family, friends or neighbors and harness your inner brio to make that first step today.