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.