Post by Silvia Soonets
Looking for other thing, last week I found a very interesting and informative website: http://www.communityarchitectsnetwork.info
The Community Architects Network (CAN), is a regional network of community architects and planners, engineers, young professionals, lecturers and academic institutes in Asian countries. Instead of focusing in the upgrading projects itself, the organization focus its actions in the training of the new kind of professionals the communities need, and in facilitating the contacts among communities and architects, and among architects interested in working with poor communities with their pairs.
They state that community architects are united by their belief in the power of participatory design and planning processes to create conditions for a development transformation owned by the people.
Either in participatory process or not, I believe we architects need to change the way we relate with all our clients, both the riches and the poor, so I found the idea behind CAN really important. They say their role is to build the capacity of people, by participatory design and planning process to make people be their own solution and I love that they have training both for professionals and for community leaders. They have held several workshops, and also have proposed a fellowship, helping to support young architects in their work with communities.
The network achievements are important, measured in the number of people involved and in its extension:
Although some he information seems a little outdated (the newest entries are from a year ago), the documents and handbooks are really useful, in particular the Handbook on COMMUNITY UPGRADING through People’s Process. This is a very well organized small book that shows the steps in the upgrading process and includes relevant examples of each phase. It is, without a doubt, a worth reading.
The book ends with lessons learned and tips. I imagined they were about the process, but still better, they are about the needed attitude:,
Technical professionals are not limited to the technical aspect only, which means it is inseparable to organizing and assessing dynamics of people, especially community leaders.
A great amount of patience and perseverance is key to achieving consolidated goals; there is no such thing as easy path to success!”
I hope that the lack of recent info does not mean the network is not working anymore. I healthy envy them. I wish we had a similar organization in Latin America.