Blaine Zuckerman banished his Blackberry to Build with Habitat

As employees of a breaking news organization (we all work for Time Inc.), we have a hard time ignoring the constant stream of information that we get on our handheld devices. Upon arrival at the Habitat location, we were told that it wasn’t a good idea to constantly check our blackberries- the devices that we stare at whenever we’re away from our computers for more than 30 seconds. Yowsers. Apparently if you’re looking at your blackberry you could miss a two-by-four or a backhoe coming at your head.

When we got assigned to our team leaders, we were put to work immediately. Some of us were moving rocks for an irrigation situation of some sort and most of us, including myself, were putting up drywall. Everyone was well utilized- whether we were taking measurements, cutting, hammering or drilling. And it seemed that our team leader or another crew member was always there as soon as you wondered, “Am I really doing this right?” And the good news was that most of the time we were doing just fine.

Before we knew it, it was time for lunch. And while we ate sandwiches (all food tastes better after manual labor) we heard from a family who would be moving into one of the homes on which we were working. The son of the family spoke about his hard working mom and how they were all finding time to put in the sweat equity to earn their home. He was grateful for our efforts and grateful for the opportunity to see his family get a much needed boost of support.

The afternoon flew by. Focusing on holding up drywall so that it didn’t fall on friends’ heads held our focus. Feeling more confident with our work, my team finished dry walling the ceilings and walls in two rooms. We were shocked at what we’d been able to accomplish.

Aboard the bus back to our office where we’d left our cars, we were busy talking about how much fun we’d had, how much we think we may have helped and how much we look forward to doing it all again. And nobody looked at their blackberries.

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