Over the course of this semester I have been researching nomadic tribes and populations. Much of this research has led me to the realization that many of these populations, share plights similar to those of people who are migrating into cities and building makeshift cities usually referred to slums or favelas. Currently in the United States the homeless population is on the increase as well. In many cases nomadic and pastoral people are moving away from their way of life and into more sedentary and urban areas. Traditional techniques of culture and survival are abandoned out of economic neccessity. Desertification and other environmental disasters are placing extra strain on already fragile communities.
As a designer and someone who has been personally involved with a variety of sustainable living communities I am interested in issues regarding land use, community development and craft traditions. Fringe populations including nomads, climate,political and economic refugees are disconnected from the societies they share geography and resources with. In both emerging economies and developed nations these populations face issues from meeting basic sustenance, hygienic, safety, and education needs to disembodiment from cultural heritage. Traditional nomadic populations of Africa, the Middle East and Asia have long faced similar threats and challenges in these arenas. Although many nomads now choose more sedentary lifestyles there are benefits to understanding techniques and traditions that sustained them for centuries. These various techniques may be useful to similarly marginalized populations in other parts of the world. A vehicle for dialogue between these groups and organizations working with these populations may lead to new design solutions as the world faces issues surrounding climate change, growing population and increased pressure on natural resources. Open dialouge between these citizens on the periphery could enable new design solutions and moral support.
Through my research I have found many organizations both governmental, NGO’s and non-profits that are tackling these issues and working within these populations to make life better. Some of these organizations are already set up to network with similar organizations, others are taking on specific environmental problems such as desertification and water contamination. It is the intention of this project to initiate a response and perhaps cultivate a discussion around the diverse issues these organizations face and, in the end, perhaps develop a more permanent network or mode of communication which can disseminate design ideas and support for these growing fringe populations.
Allan Savory : 2010 Winner of the Buckminster Fuller Design Challenge
“Allan Savory argued that while livestock may be part of the problem, they can also be an important part of the solution. He has demonstrated time and again in Africa, Australia and North and South America that, properly managed, they are essential to land restoration. With the right techniques, plant growth is lush, the water table is higher, wildlife thrives, soil carbon increases and, surprisingly, perhaps four times as many cattle can be kept.”
Allan Savory uses methods derived from natural systems to transform arid land into fertile eco-systems. These methods are similar to ancient techniques used by some nomadic people to produce cereal grains. He works with many nomadic communities to develop sustainable land use practices. He is the founder of the Savory Institute whose mission is “
…to restore the vast grasslands of the world through the teaching and practice of Holistic Management and Holistic Decision Making. The Institute’s Consulting and Training activities are turning deserts into thriving grasslands, restoring biodiversity, bringing streams, rivers and water sources back to life, combating poverty and hunger, and increasing sustainable food production, all while putting an end to global climate change.” He was recently awarded the 2010 Buckminster Fuller Prize
For a ful explanation watch this informative lecture about his process!
“Allan Savory-Keeping Cattle: cause of cure for climate crisis?” (Trinity College, Dublin Ireland: Vimeo, December 2009),http://vimeo.com/8239427.
National Coalition for The Homeless
“ The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission. That mission, our common bond, is to end homelessness. We are committed to creating the systemic and attitudinal changes necessary to prevent and end homelessness. At the same time, we work to meet the immediate needs of people who are currently experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of doing so. We take as our first principle of practice that people who are currently experiencing homelessness or have formerly experienced homelessness must be actively involved in all of our work. Toward this end, the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) engages in public education, policy advocacy, and grassroots organizing. We focus our work in the following 4 areas: housing justice, economic justice, health care justice, and civil rights.”
This site provides links to programs, statistics and articles about homelessness in the US. They would be a valuable contributor to a dialogue on homeless coping methods as well as providing experience and first-hand knowledge. They may also be a powerful method of disseminating a proposal for a Global Nomad Network.
“Oxfam is an international confederation of 14 organizations working together in 99 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.We work directly with communities and we seek to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.
Oxfam direct relationships with the citizens experiencing hardships could provide valuable insight into the needs and wants and knowledge of these populations.
“The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. It strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to return home voluntarily, integrate locally or to resettle in a third country.”
THe UNHCR’s extensive knowledge on the needs of displaced citizens would provide valuable insight and exchange with many of these other organizations.
Pastoralist Communication Initiative
“The Pastoralist Communication Initiative is the collective name for a series of projects working with pastoralists in the Horn of Africa and implemented and managed by Pastoralists Consultants International. The projects involve pastoralists in the Horn of Africa and beyond and focus on new knowledge and innovation. We connect pastoralists in the Horn with pastoralists all over the world and we promote productive conversation between pastoralists, governments and others. We promote an appreciation of the potential of pastoral economies and societies with official institutions, the media and the public.”
This site provides a fantastic model of a network site. There is also information available to the public and other pastoral/nomadic communities regarding resettlement, agriculture, and cultural issues. Members of this site could contribute greatly to the discussion and dissemination of knowledge to and from the groups it works with.
Dr. John Todd : Inventor of the Eco-Machine and Winner of the 2008 Buckminster Fuller Challenge
“In 1989 Dr. John Todd, an internationally recognized inventor and a pioneer in the design and construction of ecological wastewater treatment systems, decided it was time to offer a cost-effective, renewable or what is now commonly referred to as “green” solution to the growing global wastewater crisis.”
By utilizing algae, plankton, fish and plants at specific stages in the treatment of wastewater, Dr. John Todd has developed a system to clean water without the use of toxic chemicals. The result is a beautiful and bountiful system that can exist in a variety of settings and climates.
Dr. John Todd’s contributions on the topic of resource management and in relation to unregulated populations would be invaluable. A combination of these methods with Allen Savory’s techniques dispersed through a bare-foot design model could be a possible approach in lifting these populations out of squalor.
Dignity Village , Portland Oregon
On December 16th of the year 2000, a group of eight homeless men and women pitched five tents on public land and Camp Dignity, later to become Dignity Village, was born. We came out of the doorways of Portland’s streets, out from under the bridges, from under the bushes of public parks, we came openly with nothing and no longer a need to hide as Portland’s inhumane and Draconian camping ban had just been overturned on two constitutional grounds. We came armed with a vision of a better future for ourselves and for all of Portland, a vision of a green, sustainable urban village where we can live in peace and improve not only the condition of our own lives but the quality of life in Portland in general.
Dignity village is an example of a self-governing informal community that has become more formal over time but has maintained freedom from building codes and other formal strictures. Dignity village may provide valuable inspiration and contributions about small scale organization tactics. They may provide advice to peripheral communities around the globe as well as benefiting from information from a wider global network.
Most Livable Slum | A blog to promote dialog on development in South Asia
This blog is maintained by the South Asia Region of the World Bank Group. Its goal is to exchange ideas on how to end poverty in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
This Blog, developed by the World Bank, exhibits an interesting perspective on slum living and the suggestion that improvement by the communities will lead to greater inclusion to the societies they exist around. The network that might provide education for these communities does not yet exist. The problem of providing access to this info via the web is a massive issue. An analog paper zine may provide a temporary answer until these communities can develop there own internet Hubs. The input of the World Bank on this research and in the dissemination of information would be invaluable.
Joshua Hirshberg: Half Nomad Blog
“A photo blog telling poetic stories of non-hierarchal praxis and the social relations that are formed in the process. Some content is less obviously about horizontal practices, and more about creatively navigating life in the midst of late capitalism while keeping these ideas in mind. The blog is a space to test out content for a future book/zine project.”
This blog project is a good model of disparate ideas finding a mode of connection and communication. Joshua Hirschberg may provide insight into producing content on this topic as well as being a possible contributor.