Julia Pollak – Community-Driven Development: How the Poor Can Take Charge To Improve Their Housing

Photo: www.rand.org

Photo: www.rand.org

Public housing projects have been controversial for decades in countries around the world. They have been seen as a potential remedy to housing inequality, providing a guaranteed minimum standard of living. While some developments have achieved a degree of success, others have earned bad reputations for worsening segregation, social tension, unemployment, violence, and drug use. A common complaint against even the more successful projects is that residents get little effective say about their design.

A close look at an informal settlement in Cape Town, South Africa, could serve as a guide for other countries experimenting with community-driven development, an alternative approach to public housing.

Community-driven development (PDF), which has gained traction since the 1990s, has largely abandoned the housing aims of equality and standardization. Under this approach, control over development decisions and resources goes directly to the people who potentially will be living in the housing. These citizens identify community priorities. They organize to address local problems as partners with local governments and other organizations. Such projects are emerging in Cape Verde, Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, Brazil, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Benin, and Morocco. The result is considerable variety, as community-driven housing becomes as diverse as the personalities of those driving them. The hope, of course, is that the best developments will be scaled up and their recipes for success will be shared, serving as useful guides for other communities.

Read more: http://www.rand.org/community-driven-development

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Jose Fernandez – Building Dreams In The Slums Of Mexico – AlJazeera

AlJazeeraAlJazeera. September 2014. Millions of people from Mexico’s countryside come to the capital to build settlements and slums, adding to the ongoing expansion of one of the world’s biggest cities. In Mexico, the poor have largely settled in shantytowns on the edge of Mexico City. Despite the danger, the hardship, the lack of hygiene, many families are using it as a chance to build a better life.

As part of our ongoing My Home series, Al Jazeera’s Adam Raney reports from Mexico City.

From the top of the hill in Ixtapaluca, Mexico City looks attractive: the metropolis of 22 million seats on a valley surrounded by two beautiful volcanoes and mountains. The city still has a shrinking lake, Xochimilco, a legacy from pre Hispanic times, one of the few remaining natural reserves.
New human settlements keep devouring nature by the day, mostly on the hills, as the flat surfaces are mostly occupied or unaffordable.
To kids here airplanes are an attraction, as they fly over one every minute in the afternoons; so is to look at the city’s historic center to identify some of its many landmarks, typically monuments, office towers and Chapultepec Park, the largest green spot inside the concrete jungle.
But going to see the city’s zoo at Chapultepec is a luxury families living here can rarely afford.

Read & see more: http://www.aljazeera.com/slums-mexico

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Ben Petersen ~ A Story About The Garifuna

A rich Central American culture is fast disappearing in the wake of immigration and integration. This film chronicles the challenges and struggles of the Garifuna people to preserve their identity. The story serves as a microcosmic example of the loss of time-honored customs in a world that is increasingly becoming one homogenous international culture.

A Ben Petersen Film
A Brigham Young University Communications Department Production
Produced, directed, and edited by Ben Petersen
Additional footage provided by: Jared Johnson, Dale Green and Jorge Zuniga.
Funding Provided by the BYU Office of Research and Creative Activities, BYU Communications Department and the B&A Trust Fund.
Music by Michael Bahnmiller. “Ba-ba” by Aziatic.

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Coby Joseph – Friday Fun: Watch Urban Growth Unfold In These Amazing Visualizations From Cities Worldwide

cityfix.com. September 2014. The NYU Stern Urbanization Project has created a number of fascinating time-lapse videos showing urban land use in different cities from the 1800s through to 2000. These videos strikingly depict the well-evidenced trend of urban growth, both in population and land area. By 2050, 66% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas. While urbanization can have a number of benefits, if not controlled, it can also lead to costly urban sprawl. In some expanding cities, land use is expected to grow at about double the rate of the population. The Urbanization Project’s visualizations give context to the challenge of urbanization and land use as cities plan for the next century of growth and development.

Read & see more: http://thecityfix.com/watch-urban-growth

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Rozenberg Quarterly: The World Is Not Made Up Of Statistics Alone

Photo:  en.wikipedia.org

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

October 2014. Although a large part of our content is written by academics, let us start out by saying that Rozenberg Quarterly is not an academic journal in the traditional sense.
We aim to show that science can and should support and advance journalism. In order to do this, we have abandoned several rules that are the norm in the world of academic journals. For instance, we do not limit ourselves to one subject nor do we involve ourselves with ranking-, citation- and review systems.

Academics do not live in an ivory tower. In the information society, science should play a supporting role as well as provide a service by delivering information. In our view, this should even be considered one of its main tasks: Make information widely available. Journalism has evolved from merely bringing the news to analyzing it. Science and academics can and should claim their place and expand their role in this process.
Rozenberg Quarterly aims to show that news analysis and investigative journalism benefit from academic articles and books. And it’s beneficial for all parties involved: Journalists gain access to extra (background) information and delve deeper, while academics are able to show that they do not function isolated and outside of mainstream society.

We started this website in 2011, as a platform to promote Rozenberg Publishers’ publications. After a year, we had the idea that it could evolve into a broader platform.
We made this change for several reasons. First of all, we thoroughly enjoyed the concept as it was crystalizing while we were working on it. The second reason is our conviction that we are doing something new in the world of publishing. Third, we want to show that the time has come to start sharing academic information in a different way than it has been traditionally. Last but certainly not least, we would like to contribute to social debates by making high quality material widely available.
In the past two years we have slowly rolled out this concept. We started by making informative, mostly academic articles and full books available for free. We also created separate, dedicated sections focused on relevant social issues, such as the consequences of urbanization, changing health care policies in the Netherlands, and the dilemmas facing the constitutional state.

Role of social sciences
The last few years have seen an attack on the humanities or social sciences. The neo-liberal society has little eye for the ‘soft’ side of science. Rozenberg Quarterly aims to show that society cannot function without social sciences. The world is not made up of statistics alone.

Role of academic publishers
In the world of academic publishing, the publisher plays a curious part. Academics have succumbed to the fact that the publisher puts a value on articles through review- and ranking systems. The fact that the publisher should provide a service seems to have been forgotten.

The open access culture
Since the open access culture (making academic material available for free) will determine the future of academic publishing, it is time to start looking at the publisher’s role. The Dutch government for instance is demanding that from 2016 all academic publications are available for free. However, as of yet there is no demand or intention to debate how that will work. The system, and thus the role of the publisher, has not changed (yet).

The role of science in society
Academic journals are usually very narrowly limited. For each segment of science, there is a journal. It appears that different disciplines should not be combined.
The argument that offering more than a part of something diminishes the quality of the offering, is a strange one. By setting up and using a good network it is possible to offer readers quality information from different disciplines. We choose a relatively broad selection of subjects in order to highlight the social function of science.

The information society
In today’s world, the sheer quantity of information available to readers is mind boggling, but not always easy to find or easy to read. We want to contribute to the media landscape by making unique information available in a clear, accessible and technologically simple manner in order to reach as many readers as possible.

Global & Local
Rozenberg Quarterly has made the choice to be bilingual, by offering texts in English as well as Dutch. Mostly English, in order to serve the world. But since we are based in the Netherlands, we have also created several Dutch sections. Subjects such as health care and the constitutional state play a part in all our lives. Our approach of these subjects, offering research and background information to the news, is another way of showing how science and society are intertwined.

The role of Rozenberg Quarterly
Rozenberg Quarterly sticks its neck out by showing that the combination of different disciplines creates a unique platform where journalism and science advance and promote each other.

The state of business
The success of Rozenberg Quarterly is quantifiable. In May 2014 we surpassed the 10,000 monthly visitors mark for the first time. It means that this year we will have over 100,000 visits to the website. We expect to double this number in 2015.

The future
We have clear plans for the future. Whether we can realize those is mostly dependent on funding. Everything takes time and money, and so far we have mostly invested our own. Besides asking our readers for donations, we are researching the ways in which RQ could be funded with subsidies. We are debating whether or not we should offer parts of our content behind a pay wall, as well as the question whether to put ads on our site.

We are very happy with how Rozenberg Quarterly is evolving. At the time of writing the site has 256 pages (1536 articles in 17 sections/categories), monthly increasing visits and an increasing number of articles and full text books are submitted for publishing (which we would be happy to do). The fact that 54% of our readership is under the age of 35 is an interesting and fun detail. People are still reading and they will continue to do so.

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Aqustin P. Delgado ~ The Day Is New: Dawn To Darkness In Mexico City (circa 1940)

The Day is New, depicting a day in Mexico City during the years of WW2.

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