Humans of Sweet Water...Meet Devontae Phillips

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Meet Devontae Phillips…a 2016 graduate of Dunbar Vocational High School who started working with Sweet Water Foundation (SWF) during the summer of 2015 through One Summer Chicago. Inspired by his experience and the camaraderie of the Sweet Water team, he continued working with SWF throughout his senior year via a work study program that he replaced the last two periods of each day with a Sweet Water internship the allowed him to earn, learn, and get school credit. Devontae, who knew he wanted to do carpentry since a young age and completed his first construction project at 12 years old, is now a union carpenter and continues to work with SWF as a mentor and volunteer. Read on to learn more about Devontae.

 

How long have you been working with Sweet Water Foundation?Since the summer of 2015, so about three years.

 

What has been your favorite project so far?

The Think-Do Pod, which is shipping container that we hacked by building a greenhouse on top. People have done it before, but our Think-Do Pod is the first one in Chicago. Emmanuel [SWF’s Co-founder and Executive Director] saw somebody else do it in Belgium. He thought we could do it. So, we did it.

Devontae and the SWF team transform a used shipping container (top row) into a one-of-a-kind learning laboratory, greenhouse and gallery (bottom row).

Devontae and the SWF team transform a used shipping container (top row) into a one-of-a-kind learning laboratory, greenhouse and gallery (bottom row).

If you had unlimited resources, what project would you dedicate yourself to on the Perry Ave Commons?

I want to build a house from the ground up. Emmanuel says Sweet Water is going to do it. I just want to be here when we do. I want to help with the first ground up house that Sweet Water builds. From the excavation of land, to pouring the concrete foundation, and building the frame. I want to be here and be a part of it from the ground up.

 

How has your future changed since joining Sweet Water Foundation?

I have become a union carpenter. It’s a great thing, but also bittersweet because I want to keep working with Sweet Water Foundation. I am happy that we have found ways for me to stay involved by mentoring and volunteering, and we are trying to figure out how I can continue working with SWF while being a union carpenter.

 

What is your favorite memory with Sweet Water Foundation?

Learning how to use a laser cutter through our partnership with the Lost Arts …that topped everything.


Favorite movie: The Fast and the Furious series

Jia Li Pratt