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What do you see? 
Monday 03 Dec 2012
 
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Editorial

Architecture for Humanity's Kristen Schlott on the charity's What do you see? campaign 


The first weeks post-disaster are vital for first-response and relief, but soon thereafter the focus turns to long-range reconstruction. This is focus of Architecture for Humanity’s Reconstruction & Resiliency Studio. Since being founded in 1999, the nonprofit has responded to numerous disasters including focused efforts on Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan.

Post-disaster, the organization’s response protocol is framed by a staunch commitment to sustainability, functionality, participatory design (often incorporating local labor and always including a robust public input process), and open-source resource sharing so that their designs might be reproduced in other places where there is need. Above all, they have a commitment to quality design. As an organization, Architecture for Humanity also has another unique resource - their network of 50,000+ design professionals with a range of expertise to best address every kind of need.

As a nonprofit, Architecture for Humanity relies on donations from supporters. A recognized leader in disaster response, this year the organization has cultivated some unique opportunities. A partnership with MTV resulted in the Restore the Shore telethon, which featured the cast of Jersey Shore and other celebrities raising funds for Seaside Heights. This year’s American Giving Awards also featured Architecture for Humanity as a nominee in the Community Builders category. They are competing with 24 other charities for votes from the public to win their share of $2 million, and coverage on the annual NBC special.

Despite such efforts, fundraising continues to be a challenge for rebuilding organizations; donors commonly focus on giving to a very specific program within a nonprofit. While these donations are certainly welcome, such ’restricted’ gifts don’t help a nonprofit address other vital needs such as staff training, facilities, operational costs, and the generally high costs associated with fundraising. Particularly with regards to disaster-response organizations, restricted funds don’t help with being prepared for the next major disaster.

To address operational need, Architecture for Humanity has launched its What do you see? campaign to raise awareness and vital new sources of support for their growth and operations for the coming year. The theme is inspired by their engagement with local communities, and residents’ many visions for a better, more resilient built environment. It’s not just clients and members of the design/build community that see the opportunity for improvement; everyone sees the potential for change in the places they live and love.

At Architecture for Humanity, projects varying from community centers to mobile markets, are the best testaments to the power of design (plus a little wherewithal and passion) transforming these visions for change into a reality for communities in need. To learn more, check out the campaign page: architectureforhumanity.org/whatdoyousee, or tweet @archforhumanity to tell them about what you see for your community. Contact campaign fellow Kristen Schlott - kristenschlott@architectureforhumanity.org for additional information.

Kristen Schlott
Campaign Fellow
Architecture for Humanity

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