SUMMARY: Communitere builds capacity and community for holistic recovery in developing world post-disaster scenarios. Our inclusive design, maker-oriented ethos lifts all stakeholders in a process resulting in a locally-owned resource for those impacted by disaster to design and rebuild their own communities, and provide access to world-class advanced technology and design.
PROBLEM SPACE: "The specific and systemic process that Communitere is part of improving is post-disaster relief and recovery. The ""traditional"" process is for large amounts of money to be raised from individuals, corporations and nation-states which are funnelled into multi-national, corporate-model nonprofits based in wealthy countries; those funds are then slowly drained into bureaucracies as operatives set up well-branded initiatives as dictated by a pre-conceived mission.
The professional aid worker ends up far more enriched than the communities the traditional responders are active in, and there is no incentive for innovation or true community cooperation at the personal level.
Climate change and ongoing neoliberal international trade structures will continue to worsen the plight of poor people living in environmentally unstable areas. Resiliency and true sustainability, not surviving but living, can only be fostered if all scalar levels of society have access to each other.
We address the critical need for communities to be able to foster their own recovery in a space that is designed to appeal to and inspire innovators from around the world, thus creating hubs of collaborative design that lead to strong communities without answering to a donor class."
SOLUTION: "Communitere International is the support organization to a growing number of independent, nationally registered and locally-run non-profits that design, construct, and operate cooperative Resource Centers (RCs). Designed to operate indefinitely, the RCs become permanent structures long after the initial flood of international aid recedes. By empowering local residents to design and run the RCs themselves, Communitere addresses several challenges at once: 1) outside groups save money that they can redirect into their own areas of expertise, 2) local communities create spaces that best serve their needs in the long run and 3) the spaces themselves naturally facilitate cross-sector communication, collaboration, and innovation. These RCs help relief agencies, private companies, NGOs, local community groups and individuals reduce overhead and create long-term development opportunities in the wake of natural disasters. Communitere operates hubs in Haiti and the Philippines and is currently building a new center in Nepal. Increasingly, RCs are being constructed from seismically-sound shipping containers, and are home to the following resources:
Tool lending libraries | Residential dorms | Computer labs
Makerspaces / fab labs | Co-working offices | User testing grounds
Workshops | Conference halls | Product demonstration yards
Start-ups that design products and services specifically for developing regions who lack the resources to build their own trial centers use RCs for field testing. NGOs borrow tools and space to keep their infrastructure nimble. And most importantly, local groups and individuals use the spaces. In the immediate aftermath of major catastrophes, an astonishing array of organizations and people deploy to hardest-hit areas, driving them to compete for local resources like meeting spaces, reliable internet access, tools and lodging that are hard to access amid the devastation. In addition, response efforts are often driven by the priorities and knowledge of donors and policymakers abroad, leaving local residents out of the decision-making."
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