The American Society of Concrete Contractors’ Decorative Concrete Council (DCC) traveled to Chicago’s South Side in August to tackle a 4,500-square-foot flooring project in one of the city’s roughest neighborhoods. They prepped floors; dyed, stenciled, and stained concrete; and applied both metallic and urethane epoxy coatings at a free daycare facility, creating a “footprints in the sand” beach design.
The volunteers were admittedly shaken a bit when first entering the neighborhood, which has just as many boarded-up buildings as occupied homes. “I heard gunshots!” one concrete artisan told me. But that didn’t stop them from working into each night to help provide a space of learning and nurturing for at-risk children. (Roseland Community “Good News” Day Care provides free services for children of local teen, college, and low-income mothers. Owner Pearl Willis provides these moms with a support network and the opportunity to stay in school so they can break the welfare cycle. )
I had the pleasure of helping out on this project for a day, and I met a couple of the masterminds behind the design, Rachel Knigge Bruce (FLOORmap Stencil Designs, Rogers, Ark.) and Rick Lobdell (Concrete Mystique Engraving, Nashville). Bruce has a background in graphic design and Lobdell has a Master of Fine Arts in painting (did I mention that he’s also color blind?). But both have transitioned to decorative concrete, and they love what they do!
I also met one of the DCC project coordinators, Todd A. Scharich, decorative concrete specialist with the American Society of Concrete Contractors (ASCC), who told me that the DCC’s annual Community Project program doesn’t always choose large projects or even large-scale causes. “Sometimes, it’s just a driveway,” he says.
“This is our biggest, most complex project so far, but it’s worthwhile,” says Scharich. “It’s easy to do the work and think this is like any jobsite. But then you see the kids, or meet the families as they stop in to see your progress, and you realize the good that’s being done here.”
The project was nominated and spearheaded by WOC Artistry winner and DCC board member Neil Roach (Creative Concrete by Design, Danville, Ill.) Be sure to check out our October issue for more details.