Category Archives: Housing Events

Boston Report: designing for, and talking about, urban disasters.

by Anya Brickman Raredon

Last week there was talk about disasters and resilience up and down the MBTA Redline – from Harvard University’s Design for Urban Disaster Conference to UMass Boston’s Conference on Disaster Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Sustainable Reconstruction, and MIT’s Sustainability Summit in between. I, along with some of my colleagues here at AHI had the opportunity to attend and present at both the Harvard and UMass events.

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Announcement for AHI UMass Session

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Posters at the Harvard GSD conference.

Our week of conferencing started at Harvard with three days of panels and discussion focused on how designers and humanitarians could work together in disaster response and better understand each other’s professional skill sets.  With over 140 attendees, there were a lot of perspectives and a lot of information to absorb over the course of three days, but several themes emerged and were highlighted in each day’s plenary sessions.  Some of these which I think bear further consideration include:

– How can humanitarians and architects better understand each other’s professional processes, and get away from seeing the other as being “too slow” (in the case of architects), and “too reactive” (in the case of humanitarians)?

– How come discussions of resilience don’t take power structures into account?  And what are the resulting implications of this?

– Has the well-developed humanitarian compliance system stopped organizations from being able to learn from feedback?

– Is humanitarian response (whether design based, or otherwise) evidence and context driven? How can we work towards this as a goal?

AHI also led one session at each conference focused on raising the question of whether we can continue to think of large-scale post-disaster resettlements as temporary (refugee or internally displaced persons camps) or whether it is time to acknowledge that many of these situations are in fact urban conditions that become permanent and should perhaps be thought of as ‘instant cities’.

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Moderating a 45-minute discussion on “Shelter Camp or Instant City?”  at Harvard University

For the UMass session, AHI also invited Chris Ward (Deputy Director of USAID/Haiti’s Infrastructure Office) to speak on specific cases of camp-to-settlement transformations in post-earthquake Haiti, and David Sanderson (Oxford Brookes University, and one of the organizers of the Harvard conference) to offer his perspective on how this idea fit within current humanitarian practices.

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The panels inspired dynamic discussions, raising issues of: land tenure, politics, definitions of ‘urban’, and the different realities of protracted displacement situations based on their causes. We are looking forward to continuing this conversation at the InterAction Forum on June 12th in Washington, D.C.  We will also be writing more on the topic both here and in AHI Innovations over the coming months.

In the meantime, see David Smith’s presentation here, and share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Ben Krause (J/P Haitian Relief Organization) offering commentary during the UMass session.

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Chris Ward (USAID/Haiti), David Smith (AHI), and David Sanderson (Oxford Brookes University) discussing a question during the 2-hour UMass session.

 

 

 

AHI’s recent study tour to Anchorage and Chicago

As part of its efforts to develop an affordable housing strategy for Ulaanbaatar, AHI conducted a Study Tour to Anchorage, Alaska and Chicago, Illinois for a 10-person delegation of Mongolian municipal and ministerial government officials. Along the way, participants met with nine different organizations and learned how affordable housing is defined, developed, financed, maintained, and accessed in the United States; they also considered what policies and programs may be adaptable to Ulaanbaatar.

Check out a few group shots below!

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The Mongolian delegation meets the Mayor of Anchorage, Dan Sullivan

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The Mongolian delegation on top of Harvest Commons, a Heartland Housing development in Chicago

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Closing event

Photo Report: AHI at UN-Habitat’s World Urban Forum (WUF)

By: Molly McGowan

Last week, my colleague, AHI Global Associate Anya Brickman Raredon, and I traveled to Medellin, Colombia, to participate in UN Habitat’s World Urban Forum (WUF). It was a spectacular conference in a spectacular city.

UN Habitat's World Urban Forum

UN Habitat’s World Urban Forum

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Sign in Santo Domingo (a neighborhood of Medellin now served by the recently-constructed metro cable) – “Please take care of the garden and the trees. Put garbage in the trash bins. Thank you. The environment of the park and this lookout depends on you. This is our air. Thank you for taking care of it.”

AHI’s primary reason for being in Medellin was to participate in two events with partners we are working with in Haiti: Cordaid and USAID.

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In the first, Anya spoke about our housing ecosystem approach and a model for housing delivery in Haiti as a part of a panel organized and moderated by Cordaid’s Inge Bouwmans and Marloe Dresens. Anya spoke alongside Margriet Nieuwenhuis (Director, Cordaid Urban Matters), Gerald Jean-Francois (Program Manager, Cordaid Urban Matters Haiti), and Raoul Pierre-Louis (CASEC of Turgeau, Haiti).

1)Preparing for the Cordaid panel. From left to right: Gerald Jean-Francois, Raoul Pierre-Louis, Anya Brickman Raredon, Margriet Nieuwenhuis, Marloe Dresens, Inge Bouwmans

Preparing for the Cordaid panel. From left to right: Gerald Jean-Francois, Raoul Pierre-Louis, Anya Brickman Raredon, Margriet Nieuwenhuis, Marloe Dresens, Inge Bouwmans

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See the full presentation here.

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AHI Global Associate Anya Brickman Raredon speaking on AHI’s ecosystem approach

In the second, we presented a poster (see it here) during USAID’s event on Haiti, where our friends Chris Ward (USAID), Anna Konotchick (UC-Berkeley), Rose-May Guignard (CIAT), Odnell David (UCLBP), and Kate Crawford (University College London’s Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience) were speaking.

Chris Ward (USAID) introduces the USAID panel on Haiti. From left to right: Odnell David, Anna Konotchick, Rose-May Guignard, Chris Ward, Kate Crawford

Chris Ward (USAID) introduces the USAID panel on Haiti. From left to right: Odnell David, Anna Konotchick, Rose-May Guignard, Chris Ward, Kate Crawford

Building Permanence: Self-Recovery after Disaster

Building Permanence: Self-Recovery after Disaster

With our presentations finished on Tuesday, we were able to spend the rest of the conference taking it all in, meeting interesting people, and learning about the fantastic work taking place on housing all over the world.

Adriana Navarro-Sertich (UNOPS) speaking on how to build more than a roof

Adriana Navarro-Sertich (UNOPS) speaking on how to build more than a roof

Claudio Acioly moderating a panel on slum upgrading programs in Brazil, South Africa, and Kenya

Claudio Acioly moderating a panel on slum upgrading programs in Brazil, South Africa, and Kenya

AHI Senior Advisor Deidre Schmidt and MIT Professor Reinhard Goethert speaking on land tenure at a panel organized by Loeb Fellow Matt Nohn

AHI Senior Advisor Deidre Schmidt and MIT Professor Reinhard Goethert speaking on land tenure at a panel organized by Loeb Fellow Matt Nohn

PCI’s project manager presenting on Barrio Mio – a 24-month collaboration between PCI and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance designed to transform a high-risk urban neighborhood in Guatemala into a resilient, safe, and productive community

PCI’s Ernesto Paiz presenting on Barrio Mio – a 24-month collaboration between PCI and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance designed to transform a high-risk urban neighborhood in Guatemala into a resilient, safe, and productive community

The Barrio Mio team. From left to right: Local team leader, Kathy Vilnrotter (Enclude), Jim DiFrancesca (PCI)

The Barrio Mio team. From left to right: Jose Murguia (PCI), Kathy Vilnrotter (Enclude), Jim DiFrancesca (PCI)

JP/HRO’s Lora Vicariot and Benjamin Krause talking about the learning, growth, and adaptation necessary to design and implement an effective emergency relief and reconstruction program

JP/HRO’s Lora Vicariot and Benjamin Krause talking about the learning, growth, and adaptation necessary to design and implement an effective emergency relief and reconstruction program