I first remember hearing about Architecture for Humanity during Icograda Design Week in Vancouver in 2010. Nathan Shedroff described this project in his presentation on sustainable practice (which was, by the way, my first hint of CCA, and foreshadowed my application to the school). I was fascinated by the entire project – open source architecture, social networks, disaster relief – what could be more timely and important? I recalled being at Burning Man in 2005, the year of Hurricane Katrina. The subsequent mobilization of many burners and their temporary structures to the disaster site after the festival to lend a hand and help was inspiring. Architecture for Humanity echoes that giving, innovative, survivalist culture of Burning Man.
My question for Architecture for Humanity is this: how do we rebuild the intangible aspects of a disaster-torn country? We hear often about the numbers of orphaned children that result from these tragedies, and I wonder what happens to them. I wonder who passes down stories and traditions to these children, who supports them through life’s journey? For these children, the disaster is not temporary but will echo through their lives, with every milestone, they will feel the loss of their parents, their support group, and possibly be disadvantaged because of it.
Johnathan Harris spoke last night at CCA about building a library of human experiences, and envisions that cowbird.com will become this after many years of contributions. He envisions that it could be accessed by anyone to search for guidance, and I was excited by this idea. I see the need for a guidebook for life, which could be useful tool for shattered communities. I am terribly naive about they types of community support that are given after a crisis, so I would love to ask Architecture for Humanity about their experiences in the field, and if they see a need for some kind of solution for these issues.