Crafting a Better Coop: One Chicken, One Coop, One Yard at a Time

Crafting a Better Coop
One Chicken, One Coop, One Yard at a Time

Functional design has an inherent elegance. That is a concept at the core of the Chicken Coop Design Competition Exhibition, a contest and display that has been organized by the non-profit organization, The Poultry Project. Agricultural equipment is not typically the material of art gallery displays, but well-crafted design goes beyond purely utilitarian application; it includes aesthetic but it also innovates, inspires and transforms. As event coordinator Kelly Flamos stated simply, “Design improves lives.”

The drawings being considered for this competition have been created with the parameters of an urban/suburban backyard in mind, which means changing the way land resources are used. The ultimate improvement that these ideas lend to our community is sustainability — one coop, one chicken, one yard at a time. Flamos hopes that this event will add awareness of the local food movement, promote The Poultry Project and provide an intriguing display of new design.

After soliciting submissions, which exceed 65 in quantity and represent most areas of the world, one of the most spectacular achievements of this design event is the panel of judges that have been assembled to evaluate and to give input on every aspect of the chicken coop design concept. This multidisciplinary group represents backgrounds in farming (horticulture and livestock), architecture, urban planning, industrial design, activism and an across-the-board dedication to education in various forums. Two of the judges raise chickens of their own in urban environments; they have first-hand knowledge of what features make a coop healthy for chickens and suitable for the city landscape.

Tim Malinich, who is the Horticulture Extension Educator for the Ohio State University Lorain Extension, has been raising chickens in his suburb for about eight years, said he “tended to view and judge the designs from the view of what would work with the least amount of trouble for the owner and the neighborhood as well as to what coops my neighbors would be willing and capable of constructing.” Lynn Rodemann is an activist and urban farmer who runs two large community gardens and keeps over thirty chickens in Cleveland. She was impressed by the variety of designs and the innovative use of found materials. She “was particularly impressed with the movable coops that kept the quality of life in mind for the chickens and could even cater to a renter.” The other judges are Joe McGuier, a Brooklyn-based architect, Matthew Miller, an architect/designer/builder and co-founder of Project H and Gauri Torgalkar, an architect who works for the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. The panel of judges will collaboratively determine a First Place Grand Prize and two honorable mentions, as well as individual rationales for their choices.

Kelly Flamos is a co-founder of The Poultry Project, along with Emily and Joseph Pavlick and Julian Harris (whom she met in Uganda) and she is the organizer of the 2010 Chicken Coop Design Competition. She has her Master’s Degree from Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. While she was studying there, she focused a great deal on HIV/AIDS research and was invited to visit Uganda by a Case PhD student. She pooled her resources and made plans to spend two months in Mbale, Uganda. She arrived with her naturally abundant energy and focus but no clear plan for what she’d accomplish with her visit. No problem; two months was plenty of time for her to consult with local Non-Governmental Organization, The AIDS Support Organization (TASO), assess the most direct way to impact those devastated by AIDS in the area, locate families that would benefit the most, and to connect with a partner to help plan the whole operation.

By the time she left, 21 families had home visits, a few hens, a rooster, a bicycle for transportation and ongoing support. The Poultry Project was on its way to social transformation. One unfortunate setback was that some of the hens didn’t survive, so inoculations and an incubation period with a veterinarian have been added to the initial package for recipients; Flamos hopes to add chicken coops soon. In addition, she would like to see The Poultry Project expand to more families, to expand to the other branches that TASO serves beyond Mbale, and to eventually start a project that boosts families in Cleveland to self-sustainability. Her vision is grand but concise, and her ability to execute her vision is unstoppable. [Pictured: Kelly w/ Ugandan children.]

By attending the 2010 Chicken Coop Design Competition on Fri 11/26, you will have a chance to share in the vision of promoting self-sustainability, both locally and globally. It will be an opportunity to ponder how creativity and resourcefulness and craftsmanship can be applied to improving our lives. There will also be an opportunity to cast your vote for a “People’s Choice” award. There will be music and local food, and the event welcomes children.

You are invited to stop by the 2010 Chicken Coop Design Competition Exhibition on Fri 11/26 in the Wooltex Gallery at 1900 Superior Ave. from 2-7PM. To learn more, visit

Emmie Hutchison has a Bachelor’s degree from Miami University’s Western College Program. She enjoys her part-time job at Lakewood Public Library and especially delights in her full-time job raising her kids. She also likes to read, socialize and take in all the cool things Cleveland has to offer.

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2 Responses to “Crafting a Better Coop: One Chicken, One Coop, One Yard at a Time”

  1. […] check out this post:¬†…, about how the organization, known as The Poultry Project, and exhibition got started. The long […]

  2. […] Crafting a Better Coop: One Chicken, One Coop, One Yard at a Time | CoolCleveland Blog […]

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