The tragic fallout from recent natural disasters is overwhelming. For some, it's a challenge and a call to action. Come learn what a brave few are doing to understand and improve post-disaster reconstruction.
Open a paper or turn on the TV news and too often there's report of yet another heartbreaking catastrophe. Hurricane in New Orleans, tsunami in Indonesia, earthquake in Haiti, flooding in Pakistan. The weight of these tragedies can be overwhelming. For some, it's a challenge and a call to action.
swissnex San Francisco looks at what it takes to recover from disaster with presentations and a panel discussion on sustainable reconstruction, from environmental and safety considerations to socio-cultural and housing issues. Priscilla Phelps, from TCG International, outlines what sustainable post-disaster reconstruction really means. Jennifer Duyne Barenstein, from the World Habitat Research Centre at the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland, highlights the role of socio-cultural issues and community in reconstruction. Elizabeth Hausler, founder of BuildChange, discusses the environmental and safety factors of rebuilding. And architect Alex Salazar illustrates some of the worst and best practices of post-disaster housing.
This event is produced by swissnex San Francisco and part of the U.S.-wide program ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future. As a leading country in science, research, and technology, Switzerland is working with its American counterparts to address key global topics such as sustainability to better understand trends and arrive at solutions.
Jennifer Duyne Barenstein
Jennifer Duyne Barenstein is the head of the World Habitat Research Centre at the University of Applied Sciences of Southern Switzerland. She has a Ph.D. in social anthropology from the University of Zurich and more than 20 years of experience in Asia, Latin America, and Europe focusing on the socio-economic, cultural, and gender dimensions of housing and post-disaster reconstruction. From 1989 to 2007, she was a senior lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Zurich. She is among the lead authors of Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstruction After Natural Disasters.
Elizabeth Hausler, founder of BuildChange, earned an M.S. and Ph.D. in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.S. in environmental science from the University of Colorado, and a B.S. in general engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a 2004 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2006 Draper Richards Fellow, a 2009 Ashoka-Lemelson Fellow, and a Fulbright Scholar to India in 2002-2003. She is a skilled brick, block, and stone mason and has lectured on sustainable, disaster-resistant construction in eight countries. She served on the 2002-2003 National Research Council committee to develop a long-term research agenda for earthquake engineering, which successfully put the earthquake engineering issues that plague developing countries on the agenda. Before graduate school, she spent five years in the engineering consulting industry, working for Peterson Consulting LP in Chicago and Dames & Moore in Denver, Colorado. In 2006, she was featured by ABC World News Tonight for her work rebuilding houses in Aceh, Indonesia. Photo courtesy of Forrest Lanning.
Priscilla Phelps is a Senior Shelter Advisor to the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission helping government develop an operational strategy for housing and community reconstruction following the 2010 earthquake. She managed the development of a book published by the World Bank in 2010 entitled Safer Homes, Stronger Communities: A Handbook for Reconstruction After Natural Disasters, which proposed a community-based approach to reconstruction. She worked as a Loan Officer for the Low Income Investment Fund in San Francisco, and serves on the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity in Oakland, California. She also participated in founding the Center for Local Food and Agriculture in Ithaca, New York, and served on the Board of Directors of the Alternatives Federal Credit Union. She has an MBA in Finance from Cornell University.
Alex Salazar is a partner at Salazar Duncanson Birchall Architects, a San Francisco firm specialized in affordable and market rate housing. He received his master's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and lived and worked in India with non-governmental organizations from 1993-1994 building housing after the Marathwada Earthquake. He has published numerous articles about the Marathwada disaster, including in the recent book, Recovering From Earthquakes (Revi & Patel editors, Routledge 2010). His design work in the US with community based organizations has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects for its contribution to the affordable housing field.
Public or private aid to people in economic need because of natural disasters, wars, economic upheaval, chronic unemployment, or other conditions that prevent self-sufficiency. A distinction may be drawn between relief targeting upheavals and natural disasters and relief of chronic social conditions, now usually referred to as welfare. In 17th-century China the government maintained ever-normal granaries for use in the event of famine. Through the 19th century, disaster relief in Europe consisted largely of emergency grants of food, clothing, and medical care through hastily organized local committees. In the 20th century, disaster relief became one of the chief activities of the International Red Cross and other international agencies. Assistance to the needy from public funds has traditionally been strictly limited; in England, the Poor Law Reform Act of 1834 required people able to work to enter a workhouse in order to receive public assistance. The U.S. government responded to the Great Depression with the New Deal, which emphasized work relief programs such as the Works Progress Administration. In the later 20th century, the work requirement was abandoned in most countries, and the needy received direct cash payments, though in the U.S. the movement for welfare reform resulted in the passage in 1996 of workfare laws cutting off relief for most able-bodied welfare recipients who failed to find a job or perform community service.