We are very excited to announce that Joseph Kunkel has been awarded the Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow for the combined fellowship position with both Santo Domingo Housing Authority and the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (SNCC). The Rose Fellowship will pay Joseph’s salary for three years as he works on community development, planning and housing projects at Santo Domingo, and builds capacity within the SNCC. Jamie Blosser will act as Joseph’s mentor and will help to guide the SNCC work as part of the Fellowship.
The SNCC has an ambitious five year plan to become a national resource for sustainability in Native American communities. Joseph has already worked with the SNCC as part of the Southwest Case Studies project, and he is building capacity at Northern Cheyenne, where he is from, through connecting a love of basketball to sustainable community development. Joseph will move from Washington, D.C. to Santa Fe and begin the Rose Fellowship in January. Let’s wish him well in this exciting new endeavor!
Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative’s founder, Jamie Blosser has been honored as one of the Top 100 leaders in public interest design for her work in Native American communities, along with Tomasita Duran of Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority.
PublicInterestDesign.org introduces the Public Interest Design 100, the first-of-its-kind list highlights 100 individuals or teams working at the intersection of design and service in the U.S. The selection not only includes architects, but also product developers, educators, policymakers, and promoters, whom were selected from 10 different categories.
Other honored on the PID 100 include very well know leaders such as President Bill Clinton, Clinton Global Initiative, Cameron Sinclair, Architecture for Humanity, Brad Pitt, Make it Right Foundation, among many others doing tremendous work around the country.
The full list of 100 can be found here: http://people.publicinterestdesign.org/
TED also has a great list up on their blog, listing 16 TED talks by people on the Top 100.
Resilient communities recover from system disruptions, tragedies, change. Resilient communities return to a state in which their desired traditions, patterns, and resources are functioning – hopefully thriving. Designing resilience into a community and the buildings and spaces we inhabit can contribute to a communities’ ability to recover from disaster and gain from changes in the environment, economy, or social structure.
As part of the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative we are contributing to the field by adding the perspective of cultural entrepreneurs. Over the past several weeks we have immersed ourselves in thinking about how cultural entrepreneurship can inform and catalyze economic and entrepreneurial gains through HOUSING.
Cultural entrepreneurs can be architects who imagine buildings that embrace cultural values, community planners who pursue a vision for a new development, and builders who create the spaces that host our cultural activities. The housing and construction industries offers new market opportunities for cultural entrepreneurs.
Let’s imagine, for example, that your community has a development plan for 28 new homes and a community center. Architects can design the structures, planners can help engage the community. Hopefully these skilled professionals are closely tied to the values of the community. This way, they can ask and explore with the community, “What are the guiding principles that will lead to a built environment that fosters cultural activity, offers small business opportunity to local entrepreneurs, and creates the spaces that shape our community?”
In Native communities these questions can be different from other communities, Native communities value traditions and communication patterns that are unique from non-Native values. For example, in many Native communities inter-generational living situations foster cultural continuity and language learning. Single family dwellings make this arrangement difficult, the loss of Native language and traditions ensues. We have witnessed some Native communities’ struggle to continue traditions, like dances in the Plaza, when the new development lacks a Plaza.
We didn’t figure everything out during our 3-day gathering, but we did identify next steps and plans for creating tools that will support visionaries people working to design and build resilient indigenous communities. Take a look at the Summary of our Working Group and contact us for more information.
My work over the last 12 years has not exclusively been tribal projects, but I have helped to develop that focus with the office because of my work as a Rose Fellow at Ohkay Owingeh from 2000-2003. My job is truly great– I have the opportunity to travel frequently to great cities like San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia, and I also have the opportunity to travel to amazing places and breathtaking landscapes like the one in this photo, which I took on a recent trip to Northern Montana.
With the support of Enterprise Community Partners, a group of us began a discussion a few years ago about how to best address some of the issues that we see facing Native American communities, in particular the obstacles they face in developing sustainable and healthy communities. As practitioners on the ground, we wanted to explore innovative ways to bring not only technical assistance and capacity building, but to try to effect real change and leadership on the issues from within these communities. In particular, we wanted to acknowledge the deep resiliency of many Native communities and to encourage new stories that celebrate that resiliency – within what can be very desperate conditions.
So we established the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative, which is a growing collaborative of architects and sustainability experts who are working on tribal lands. It may seem simple, but our “innovative” premise is that we listen to the goals of tribal leaders themselves. We operate from deep within a public interest design framework which places the process of community engagement, education and inspiration as the highest priority, so that these internal stories can grow and build into a vision for a better future.
There are approx 556 recognized federal tribes, and although we are primarily focused in the SW, our five year plan is to become a national resource for native communities. Thanks to a great partnership with Architecture for Humanity and the National Endowment for the Arts, we completed a Sustainable Design Institute last year with five tribes in the Southwest, which has resulted- among other things – in the Navajo Housing Authority undertaking a comprehensive sustainable master planning project throughout the Navajo Nation, which is very impactful, as they are the largest tribe in the country – and Santo Domingo Pueblo receiving one of the very competitive Our Town grants through the NEA.
We currently have a database of 80 green tribal projects nationwide and are working, thanks to a HUD grant, to research and provide new case studies of exemplary housing projects throughout the country including Hawaii and Alaska.
We are advocates for healthy and culturally appropriate housing and we try to keep policymakers in the loop. It is my experience that the concept of sustainability is becoming ever more urban-biased. I understand the data behind this. As an architect and urban person myself, I promote density and smart growth principles in my work. However, we don’t all live in an urban environment. This is important to consider as we establish a national dialogue about urban and rural sustainability in order to come to terms with how deep sustainability can still exist within rural areas, and how to celebrate that and promote a love of and connection to place – places which are primarily natural environments.
This is why I am very proud of the work we have done as part of the Technical Advisory Group in establishing a rural pathway in the 2011 Enterprise Green Communities Criteria. The rural pathway begins to acknowledge the differences between rural and urban sustainability. The site selection and planning criteria vary by a reduction in mandatory proximity requirements, and an increase in requirements for land stewardship and protection of open space.
In all of our work, this is the question that keeps popping up: What does sustainability mean to each community? This is important to Native American communities because the term can define their very existence – that their traditions and culture have somehow, for the most part, been sustained, against all odds. The work we do acknowledges that each community should have the opportunity to define sustainability slightly differently, so that they “own” the concept. Also the term in traditional communities is not just related to environmental sustainability but includes cultural and economic sustainability – all three working together.
In order for the term to be defined by each community, our work incorporates significant community engagement work. The inclusion of community in the design process leads us to very basic concepts of “shelter” – and why we build what we build. In essence, this is what we try to do as sustainability experts – to question why and how we design and construct buildings, where our resources are from and how we create meaning so that we can better value our resources. In the work we do with tribal projects, this question is always placed in terms of a unique cultural heritage and sense of place.
These conversations lead to deep dialogue regarding culture and history. To get toward a meaningful dialogue on sustainability, we end up having many conversations with people about values and habits – no matter whether we are looking at a master plan, a fire station, a housing project or a museum. So we are constantly developing tools to listen to the goals of tribal leaders and communities so that we can implement these goals into green design strategies. These tools take many different forms, but many are event oriented, such as walking the neighborhood, story telling, cookouts and video documentation.
A couple of projects we’ve completed at Atkin Olshin Schade Architects and which can be viewed in greater detail on our website, demonstrate the use of these tools, including the Kewa Safety Complex, the I Sah’ Din’ Dii Housing Project at Mescalero Apache, and the Owe’neh Bupingeh Rehabilitation Project at Ohkay Owingeh – which most closely represents the combination of cultural, economic and environmental sustainability.
As a result of our efforts to protect the high altitude Ponderosa forest surrounding the site and reduce energy costs, we utilized Low Impact Development and passive solar principles. This is a photograph taken two weeks after construction. You can see that our efforts paid off. This was a hot July day and upon stepping into the homes they were easily under 70 degrees because of the solar shading.
This is a project that best demonstrates all three modes of sustainability: cultural, economic and environmental, for which it won a 2012 SEED award and 2012 EDRA Best Places award.
Shawn Evans, Tomasita Duran of the Ohkay Owingeh Housing Authority, and I will be contributing an essay on this project as part of a book on contemporary indigenous architecture, to be published by University of New Mexico press.
Location: Tacoma, Washington, Puyallup Tribal Reservation
Issues Addressed: Cultural Heritage, Affordable Housing, Strengthening Community, Alternative Energy, Environmental Sustainability
Project Description: The Puyallup Longhouse was designed with the goal of creating a community center and beautiful, relevant and affordable housing for members of the Puyallup Tribe struggling with the challenges of increased urbanization, high unemployment and low income. The design embraces the tribe’s culture and follows the concept of traditional longhouses where family, friends & community members interacted to perform such daily activities as singing, dancing, weaving and carving. Modern technologies supplemented the natural design strategy and led to homes that are much more energy efficient than current Washington State energy code.
Jury Review: The jury was struck by the elegant combination of the principles of sustainability with cultural relevance, while providing a contemporary aesthetic. The collaboration fostered between the Puyallup Tribe and the Housing Authority was particularly impressive. Community participation in the design process was clearly evidenced by workshops and in some cases, the employment of Tribal members in the deconstruction of existing structures. The Puyallup Longhouse project is to be commended for comprehensively addressing affordable housing, environmental sustainability and strengthening community. The project provides an excellent example of triple bottom line design.
A complete list of the 2013 SEED Award Winners can be found here: https://designcorps.org/awards/winners/