UMN in HAITI: 2

We are the second group of six graduate students and a faculty member from the University of Minnesota to travel to Haiti to work with Architecture for Humanity. The first group came in Spring 2011 and documented their experiences here. Now, in Spring 2012, we will track our work here as well, beginning with our arrival on March 19 through our departure on May 8. If you have any questions or comments, please submit them below.

Mar 21

Rainbows and Group Assignments

We woke up before dawn this morning to the last few drops of a departing rainstorm. It left a rainbow in its wake, in full view of our back porch.

At 7:30 we crammed into the land cruisers for the commute down to Petionville. We are starting to get used to the stop-and-go traffic down the mountain switchbacks, accompanied by weaving motorcycles and walking school children. Unemployment numbers may be high here, but everyone is doing something.

At work, Jim Lutz (our illustrious leader) took us up to the roof of BatiByen. For the first time, we could see what was happening beyond the bustling streets, including a tent city right across the road in the school courtyard. We also discovered the city roofscape, littered with the record of its denizens’ evening activities: brightly colored clotheslines, a rusty bench press, and small arrangements of lawn furniture.

After Jim took us out for a wonderful lunch at a nearby bakery, Darren informed us of our tentative group assignments:

Based on her experience with construction administration, Angela is assigned full-time to Ecole Elie Dubois, a multi-phase school project. She will be project manager, bringing the construction documents to physical completion.

John is splitting his time between two schools at different stages of design; Madam Joa is nearing completion, while Pele is in schematic design. AFH was excited to hear about his carpentry and concrete experience.

Danica will be starting up a brand-new CIM school. This includes everything from site inspection to programming to the project schedule.

Kristen will be mapping (which I hope means running around with GPS) for two weeks, then joining the Villa Rosa planning team. This is a big project directed at “building back better” a very dense informal hillside settlement in one of the worst-hit quake zones.

Jessica and I will help team Villa Rosa roll out their Phase 2 report, then Jessica will join John in work on Pele. I will continue with Villa Rosa to Phase 3.

Signing off to take my choloroquine,

-Niko