By Jhono Bennett (on behalf of SA SDI Alliance)
This story covers the 2015 exchange trip between South African delegates from the SDI Network and the CAN Network in the Philippines.
In 2015, a small delegation from the South African Shack Dwellers International Alliance (SA SDI) attended the 3rd Regional Community Architecture (CAN) Meeting & Workshop. The aim was for the South African delegates to gain first hand experience and learn from the work that CAN practices.
This delegation consisted of 3 professionals and three community members from SA SDI and were chosen by the alliance for strategic leadership and capacity development to bring back home:
|Jhono Bennett||1to1 – Agency of Engagement|
|Motebang Daniel Matsela||CORC|
|Phaello Philder Mmole||FEDUP|
As a team, we were expected to try and understand how the CAN works, its practices and tools as well as its members . All this was to be performed during the series of workshops,meetings and dialogues that the we were exposed to. We also learned from similar practitioners and community groups who are working on similar problems around the development of disadvantaged communities, such as in South Africa. Ideally we would learn valuable lessons from CAN in regard to practices of community design and bring these home.
The 3rd Regional CAN Meeting & Workshop was held in Manila, Philippines this year between June 16 – June 23 and conducted with the theme:
“Together we CAN! People planning for future inclusive cities “
The workshop aimed to:
- Bring together local and international participants working in different countries in Asia and beyond to exchange and share experiences through community workshops.
- Provide concrete technical support to actual community initiatives through fieldwork in people centred heritage planning in Intramuros, Manila and city-wide development approach (CDA) in Muntinlupa City.
- Link with local universities
- Plan new collaborative future activities with multiple stakeholders to ensure long term change,ultimately the workshop aimed to support the larger mission of the CAN Network which is to:
“..Create a platform to link architects, engineers, planners, universities and community artisans in Asia, who work with communities and believe that poor communities should play a central role in planning their communities, and in finding solutions to build better settlements and more inclusive cities.”
The delegation arrived on the 15th, and was welcomed by the well organised and energetic CAN management team.
After an initial series of presentations on CAN and various organisations that make up the network, individual organisations of the workshop were invited to present themselves and their work.
From here the next 2 days were spent taking the conference on site visits of where the workshop delegates would be working in Allabang and Intramuros.
The participants were then broken into smaller groups of practitioners and community members and sent to stay in separate neighborhoods (or Barangays) where each group would focus on a specific set of issues faced by the various community groups supported by the local CAN organisation, Tampei.
Each group spent the week intensively working on enumeration, mapping, and design with and for local groups aiming to initiate development energy supporting community initiatives.
This was done while strategically developing a body of work that would be shown to local government stakeholders at a final seminar in both Allabang and Intramuros.
Consolidated Group work for strategic presentation with government stakeholders.
The workshop culminated in a social event on the 24th, celebrating the workshop’s success.
The workshop was highly successful in bringing together community architects from across the world to share experience and knowledge through the mixture of workshop tasks, social events and working activities.
The strategic use of these professionals to hyper-activate local community processes was exemplary and not have the visited communities as passive beneficiaries, while using the work developed in the short time to engage local governance bodies to support local community processes was a highly impactful strategy employed by the workshop organisers.
In particular it was impressive to see how ingrained the practices were conducted by both local community support and technical support. There seems to be something in the way the Philippines alliance work that goes beyond technical support and enters into new cultural and social dimensions of such work.
Personally, it was amazing to be in the presence of so many like-minded professionals who shared the values of community driven processes and were skilled in facilitative design processes.
This experience further cemented my personal motivation in developing critical co-productive design skills for me and other South African socio-technical spatial designers through community driven development projects.