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Gay in the Life: Carla Therese Bruni

by Janean L. Watkins
2014-10-08

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Carla Therese Bruni is the type of woman who wants to "make the rest of the world fall completely in love with, and become stewards of, vintage architecture, intangible histories and sustainable places." She strives diligently towards that goal in everything she does.

Bruni often takes the time to learn about the histories of our local area, gaining a greater understanding of the ways we live today. "I love history," said Bruni, "understanding where I'm from. It's a way of understanding the world."

Bruni was born and raised in the Chicago's northwest suburbs, the middle of three children. After moving to the city, she became disheartened watching building after building being torn down, materials destroyed. She decided that she wanted to do something about it.

Bruni learned more about how she could do something creative and constructive surrounding the destruction of buildings in Chicago at the School of the Art Institute Chicago ( SAIC ), where she received her masters in historic preservation. Now, she uses those skills to teach, restore and run a community repair clinic in the Edgewater neighborhood.

"Through Community Glue Workshop, we run these clinics where people can fix stuff for free," said Bruni. By 'stuff', Bruni means items ranging from lamps to toasters and clothing. "I work with craftsmen and groups who need a few tools to do some really cool stuff. You can start a deconstruction company with a few hundred dollars in tools," she said. And, she helps to make that happen.

Her deconstruction work also creates jobs, like where she works part time with Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse. The salvage warehouse is a place even artists go to repurpose materials for use. "Hands-on work is good for the soul," said Bruni. Aside from her hands-on approach, she also teaches within organizations like SAIC from time-to-time, Neighborhood Housing Services and the Bungalow Initiative.

Bruni's work not only satisfies her need to rebuild, teach, learn and explore histories through historic preservation; there's a job creation component as well. "If you demolish a building, you're using one guy, the wrecking ball guy," Bruni said. "Whereas, if you're deconstructing a building, you employ about six to eight more people, and up to 12 people for historic preservation."

Bruni is not the sort of lesbian who is all work and no play. She lets her hair down on road trips to the Deep South, poetry writing, listening to jazz and brass bands and through sculpting. Her ideal outing would be learning to swing dance or weld. She could also make herself comfortable in a writing on her blog, or kicking back to watch dramatic thrillers, folkstreams.net or old Kung Fu movies.

When she's not helping with reconstruction efforts in New Orleans or restoration projects in Idaho and Washington, Bruni's writes about all things sustainable and restorative. Her musings can be found on her blog at www.toolmade.org .

THE STATS

Age: 37

Neighborhood: Edgewater

Hobbies: Theater, Origami, sculpture, dive bars, biking with friends

Favorite movies: To Kill A Mockingbird, Mommie Dearest, Poltergeist, French and Saunders, The Color Purple and the 1973 version of Jesus Christ, Superstar


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