Natural disasters kill, injure and demolish people and property in tragic dimensions - they need not destroy local traditions and building cultures as well. While many organizations and designers view disaster reconstruction in purely technical terms, we believe that this work should achieve much more in Gujarat.
Reconstruction can never erase the loss of natural disasters but it should enable people to restore the life and meaning of their communities. The uniquely formed streets and buildings of Indian towns and villages represent centuries of complex social, spatial and architectural thought. Such places represent a cultural treasure that can not be replaced with the banal tracts of concrete boxes provided by typical post disaster reconstruction efforts.
Numerous Indian professional and community organizations share these concerns. They are eager to stem the tide of insensitive reconstruction and have the skills to do so. Many of these groups are located in Gujarat and have a unique appreciation for the region's rich cultural heritage. Unfortunately, these organizations are not well known and have little standing or contact with the (often corrupt) Indian agencies and (understandably distant) international aid sources through which reconstruction funds typically pass.
We aim to assist such groups by raising awareness of their work and funds to assist their work. To this end we shall seek out and support Indian organizations and individuals whose projects are: Socially responsible - allowing communities to participate meaningfully in planning, design and construction - because these projects enable people to obtain the buildings and social spaces they most desire. Culturally appropriate - rooted in local building and craft traditions -because these projects enable people to maintain and extend inhabitation patterns uniting new communities with the unique history from which they've grown. Environmentally sustainable - affordable and easily utilized by local artisans and builders and promote conservation of non-renewable materials and energy -because these projects maximize the utility of limited reconstruction resources while minimizing future energy, maintenance and environmental costs.