TONIGHT at Live Coal Gallery: Music, Paintings, & Poetry

Oct 24 at Live Coal Gallery

Come out tonight for music, poetry, and paintings! I’ll be hosting the Open Mic and some of Detroit’s talented jazz musicians will be performing at the Live Coal Gallery tonight. The event starts at 6pm, poetry starts at 7:30.  Suggested donation: $5.


LCG is a limited liability company owned and directed by Detroit artist Yvette Rock.  Rock describes LCG as a social venture whose primary purpose is to see Detroit renewed through the beauty and creativity that artists of every generation can bring.”

Ringing in some new decisions

I guess I just needed a mini-catharsis at work, by myself today.

I feel very accomplished though:

- domain name renewed ( is on the comeback!)
– decided to take a few open courseware classes this semester in Sustainability and Changing the World
– Updated my finance tracker and budget
– Had some quick & rewarding social media interactions
– Cleaned over 1,000 messages from 3 inboxes (still tons more work do do here, but at least the last month is handled)
– cried
– laughed/chuckled
– ate 1/2 of a rice krispies treat

And I still have about an hour left to be really productive. I’m going to take some time to think about the three sections of my life that I’d like to grow (business, academic/certifications, poetry) and ways that I can make that happen.  Tonight, I’m going to start with writing this blog.


Two weeks left! Check out my progress to Contractor-ship.

Dear Family & Friends,

First, I’d like to thank you for showing such great support as I pursue my Residential Builder’s License. I’m humbled to know that so many people believe in my dream as much as I do!

With just two weeks left, I can honestly exclaim that this has been one of the best academic experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve learned about so much – from framing a house to roofing – and have been able to mold my eye for a good project into one with the able body and skill to see it through.

So far, I’ve raised about 10% of my goal of $1,500 – which is great! However, in order to pay off my class and pay for the test with the State of Michigan, I need more donations. Would you consider giving $10, $20, $50, or $100 to help me through the last leg of this course? Each donation tier comes with a token of my appreciation. Donations of $1,000 or more will earn a custom home project to be completed by yours truly.

When I finish the builder’s course at the Detroit Training Center, I will pursue two complementary avenues of certification enhancement:

(1) Employment and an apprenticeship where I will formally learn all aspects of carpentry and building.

(2) Expand the scope of Invictus Custom Woodwork, LLC to include turning houses into multi-use, creative residences.

Even without my license, I’ve already started working on projects at a starter home: The Campsite. It’s a large undertaking, but I’ve been repairing doors and baseboards, fumigating and refinishing, and making plans for the addition of a deck and sauna to the backyard. I’ll be documenting the Campsite process along the way, as well as other community projects that I contribute to.

This is a scary and exciting journey to embark upon. Please come with me!

Thanks again,


I’m finally bound to be a builder!

Please consider donating to my campaign to raise funds for the Residential Builder’s Licensure course that starts on Monday. More information is below. Thank you for supporting and spreading the word on my cause.

Update:  Last August, I received my Certificate of Completion of the Residential Builder’s Licensing clear at the Detroit Training Center. I’ve been studying the 750 flashcards that I made to prepare for the exam,  but I still need the last push of $285 to complete the exam and half of my initial license.  Thanks everyone for your continous words of encouragement. Here is a picture of my certificate. Isn’t it great?!

Certificate of Completion 2013

Certificate of Completion 2013



Hello World!

My name is Naidra and I want to be a builder. If you’ve met me, you probably realized pretty quickly that I’m chocked full of ideas and ways to create space for people to live and work. From strategizing on how to get a utility trailer for a car or bike to transport materials across the city – to thinking of ways to transform a residential space to a live/work community, complete with gardens, a movie theatre, and a park designed to help people learn to train & socialize their dogs.

Currently, I’m interested in purchasing and rehabilitating properties as creative spaces to rent out to folks like me (creative, varying income, wide interests & career ideas, and who may/may not have a dog that society views as aggressive). I also want to build a series of little houses around Detroit proving that a) it’s possible, and b) that anyone can use locally sourced materials to create a cool spot to live that is comfortable, sustainable, potentially off-grid, and doesn’t require a 30-year mortgage.

(example of a little house. Photo from:

own and run a business, Invictus Custom Woodwork, LLC, where I repurpose wooden pallets into functional art like tables and chairs. I also make jewelry and paddles and shields for fraternities and sororities. Check out my work at Eventually, I’d like to incorporate building little houses into my business model.

So, I do own a company, and I do make things. Now, it’s time to step up to the next level.

This coming Monday, I will be starting the course to obtain my residential builder’s license with the Detroit Training Center. This certification will enable me to get to what I am really passionate about: creating space for people to live and work without the societal barriers that limit what that space looks like.

I’ve tried approaching this issue in a lot of different ways (like earning two degrees, and starting Invictus), but none of them have given me the practical skills and experience that I need to build or renovate structures. The bottom line simple: I want to be a builder, but I need to learn how.

The story behind it all starts when I was 2 years old…maybe 4. I’ve always had a passion to build things, but was not really encouraged to actually do it. It’s been “you’re too small,” or “girls don’t do construction,” or “just own a company that builds things.” So, I took up Architecture in high school and tried my hand at Engineering in college, but still haven’t had the opportunity to really get my hands dirty.

Please help me out by donating to this campaign to pay for the builder’s licensure course, the certification for the State of Michigan, and to get bonded & insured to be able to legally work as a contractor. That way I can join the carpenter’s union and start the 4-year apprenticeship program to gain the necessary skills and experience that I need to be a successful little house-builder.

This is a small step toward my overall career goal. Please consider helping me out by donating to this cause. If you can’t donate, help me spread the word! The course is 5 weeks long, so I have that much time to raise the funds to move forward.

Thanks a million!




Graphic: Naidra L Walls

I haven’t committed to changing my profile picture because I’ve only been following the trial via news feeds and social media commentary… but, I made this really quickly as a visual response to this case, the need for communities to pull together to move forward, and my personal journey to having space & place.

Return to the Stage – Poetry reading at Live Coal Gallery opening

We write because we are beyond
a vortex or pin drop of light breaking
through the abysmal scorching red
marks over asphalt. We write.
We are an understatement
in flat shoes and jeans.

In hoop shorts and stilettos.

We are the future.

This Friday, June 14th, I will be reading a few poems with one of my good friends and youth poets from InsideOut Literary Arts Project at the Live Coal Gallery in the Woodbridge neighborhood.

Live Coal Gallery fosters a passion for art, community, and learning by collecting, exhibiting, and selling the works of aspiring, emerging, and established artists. [They] provide mentoring opportunities for Detroit high school students, conduct workshops for children and families, and collaborate with local businesses, organizations, and schools on community art projects.

The current exhibit, Modern Impressionists will feature works by Gilda Snowden and Senghor Reid. Seating is limited, so RSVP as soon as possible.

Modern Impressionist

Modern Impressionists

Pallet to Table: a new face for Invictus

Coffee table that I made from a wood pallet.

Coffee table that I made from a wood pallet.

My company, Invictus Custom Woodwork, LLC has a new product line: furniture from reclaimed wood.  One of my visions for a while has been to create functional and artistic wood items. This table isn’t fit for the DIA just yet, but I am excited to see where I can take them! Post your comments, and visit my website,, for more info and pictures!

Paper by 53 for Everything!

I’ve been using Paper by 53 almost the entire 7 months that I’ve had my iPad.  In downloading the app, I was looking for something similar to a notebook and writing utensils. I needed to be able to stay organized while jotting down quick thoughts, sketches, or ideas. The app had to function well for note-taking in class or meetings or for quick product sketching for a client. I had to have access to any color, to be able to layer colors and stroke types, and to easily undo or redo edits to drawings. It had to look cool. The developers needed to be progressive. It had to be free to download, and if there were additional paid features, I needed video demonstrations and narrative of why I should purchase them. FiftyThree gave  everything that I asked for, plus a vibrant/funky/clean website to peruse. So, I had to have the app, and after about a week, I added the additional features.

organize thoughts in cool notebooks with customizable covers

organize thoughts in cool notebooks with customizable covers

Rough sketch designs — I can quickly sketch paddle drawings for my Invictus customers. The app comes with two standard tools: an eraser and a pen, but the other tools were just sitting there in my pallet, grey and lonely-looking, so I had to have them! I mostly use the fine pen tool and paint brush. Their versatility and receptivity to my stylus makes me feel like I’m an actual graphic designer as I sketch out ideas, brainstorm new concepts, or take some quick notes. Then, I can easily email them to myself as a .pdf. to edit later.

Plans for small houses — Design, building, and architecture have always passions of mine. I use Paper to sketch quick house layouts, jot down concepts, or organize my thoughts around different topics for research (clean energy generation, green roofs, interesting furniture, etc.). The zoom feature is really useful here when I need to write a street name or dimension into a small space.

Brainstorm the best ways to spend your time. Duplicating pages is easy!

Brainstorm the best ways to spend your time. Duplicating pages is easy!

 — Google Calendar is great, but sometimes I need to have different variations of my calendar to determine what the best structure for my week looks like. The page duplication feature of Paper makes it really easy to draw a quick skeleton of the week, then fill it in using various configurations of time blocks.

The down side

Pasting images or text into the Paper notebooks isn’t an option yet. Sometimes, it would be really great to be able to paste a quick thought or reminder. I’d also like to be able to copy a section of a page to paste onto another page, or onto a different part of the same page.  For scheduling, it would be great not to have to re-write repetitive tasks because they happen multiple times per week.

There are other apps that do have some functionality I desire, but I haven’t come across one with the same attractive user interface, multi-touch capability, and overall sleekness. Have you? Leave some thoughts in the comments section!