BLOC Screen Print aims to bring dignity, hope – and a new skillset – to people in need of a second chance.
By Anya Rao
Green says some of the women were on the streets just eight or nine months prior to joining the program. “They have come far and they know they needed that support. In a lot of cases, BLOC saved their lives,” he says.
Before taking on the role of running BLOC Screen Print, Green was the owner of a landscaping business seeking his next step – which he wanted to be meaningful. He knew the founders of BLOC Ministries and was familiar with their programs. When founder and director Dwight Young called Green’s landscaping company to place an order, Green cited his plan to soon pass the business to his son and shared his own interest in mentoring and helping others. Young mentioned that he’d been floating the idea of adding a screen printing wing to BLOC Ministries’ job training programs, which also include a woodshop, coffeehouse, and the Cincinnati Type and Print Museum (which also teaches letterpress printing). “I said ‘I don’t know anything about screen printing, but I think I can run a business and I love the BLOC story,’” Green recalls.
The shop was started in 2016 with donated equipment, some of which has since been upgraded through continued donor support. With no prior printing experience, Green began to learn the craft by attending industry training programs, plus he got a crash course in screen printing from local shops that appreciated the BLOC mission. “They opened up their shops to me to show me, because they knew I wasn’t going to be real competition,” Green says.
More Than Just a T-Shirt
BLOC Screen Print operates a 6-color manual press, a conveyor dryer, and an exposure unit. Prior to having a climate-controlled screen room, the shop was trying to work with a 10 x 10-foot tented area, but in the humid heat of a typical Cincinnati summer, the emulsion wasn’t drying. As if on cue, a North Carolina youth group with construction experience reached out to BLOC Ministries to offer any type of assistance. The group built the main structure for the temperature-regulated space and drove it to Cincinnati, Green says. “In the beginning, we had to farm out everything and had a few weeks’ lead time on orders,” he adds. “Now, we can expose a screen within a half hour.”
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