HANDS stands for Housing and Neighborhood Development Services. They work out of Orange, New Jersey to try and reclaim dilapidated houses and other “eyesore properties,” and return them to the neighborhood as affordable homes and community assets. They also work with individual people and neighborhoods, and are creating an Arts District in a former industrial area called the Valley. A recent Google Alert brought in notice of a new community oven they built, and the following story from their quarterly report:

It started as a dream idea of our Executive Director, Pat Morrissy: “Let’s build a community outdoor, wood fired oven where people can bring bread and pizza dough to bake together outside!” The idea caught on and the Earth Oven was begun. A local student of landscape architecture drew a plan, the proprietor of a brick oven pizzeria consulted on the design and a local expert on building with mud scouted the best place to dig for clay soil. The Earth Oven was built by community volunteers of all ages who have taken part in the cement mixing and pouring, constructing the base, mixing the mud with their bare feet, creating the structure with sand and building the dome.

Oven “founders,” from left, are:
Jessica Mathelier
Patricia Rogers
Dan Richer
Molly Rose Kaufman
Anj Ferrara
Stephen Pansci
Jonathan Foster

For more of their marvelous story, go to

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