Giving Compass’ Take:
• FeedbackLabs shares insights on effectively putting communities at the heart of disaster recovery.
• How can funders help organizations prepare for disaster recovery to come?
• Learn more about disaster relief and recovery.
La Maraña is a woman-led, participatory design non-profit that empowers Puerto Ricans to improve their cities and communities.
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and María, La Maraña imagines a community-driven future, dubbed Imaginacíon Post-María, where local people plan and orchestrate sustainable rebuilding efforts that suit their community’s needs. It offers citizens direct power to imagine, plan and build the changes they desire in their communities.
La Maraña came to the LabStorm group for advice on how to tackle this challenge, as well as the challenge of long-term funding and balancing on-the-ground activity with advocacy work. LabStorm attendees delved deep into the questions and through a lively discussion, came up with three major ideas:
Simplify systems. Imaginación Post-María is completely community-driven, which means the design process, community engagement, and of course, outcomes, are dramatically different based on the project location and community demographics. When designing with kids, La Maraña used conversation and feedback to craft a dream playground. When working with a smalltown of 350 families, it built a town-wide, interactive scavenger hunt to showcase community members’ abilities. Since community members select and vote on projects, each community has distinctly different goals and needs.
Use community data as a self-advocacy tool. Through its work with community participatory design, La Maraña has seen that government officials are often dismissive of Puerto Rican communities’ needs. Since La Maraña partners directly with communities in the face of an absent government, they naturally fill an advocacy role. But with all of its projects on the ground, it can be difficult for La Maraña to find time to do political advocacy. So LabStorm attendees asked: do headquarters staff need to be the advocates themselves?
Engage with funders in new ways. The excitement throughout this LabStorm drove home just how great demand is for La Maraña’s community-empowerment model. With such demand, and need, it is feeling pressure to grow quickly. In order to scale, however, it needs more funding. Drafting a new community mapping process, setting up WhatsApp channels to analyze community members needs, and compiling those comments into a handout would all be costly up front, but could be built into operations once standardized.
Read the full article about putting communities at the heart of disaster recovery at FeedbackLabs.
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