Island Community Buildings
As Karen wrote in her last entry, we have a very small staff here at Seacology - only six of us. The result is a pretty efficient group of individuals who all take care of more tasks than what our official titles would reveal. While I spend a little over half my work day processing all things financial, I spend almost about as much time reviewing projects in process and communicating with field representatives and project leaders about the current state of their programs.
One thing I have found fascinating over the years is the frequent request from project partners from widely different cultural regions to have Seacology provide a public meeting space in exchange for their decision to conserve their environment. The design of these buildings is planned at the site by community members in conjunction with hired contractors and either a Seacology field representative or a project leader. This planning process involves a high degree of cultural knowledge of building techniques that are appropriate for the extreme weather in the particular area as well as what makes sense in terms of community size and purpose. (Above right: Niakokokoro, Fiji Center; Left: Sarinbuana, Indonesia Center)
Once built, community-wide ceremonies occur at the center throughout the lifetime of the building. But on a daily and weekly basis, this center is used for a variety of tasks and events. It's used as a place for children to do their homework, especially if electricity is not available within households. It is sometimes used as a sleeping space for guests coming in from other areas when room in individual households is not available. Most often the center is used for public meetings to discuss issues that involve the entire community. This includes discussions over the management and protection of the conservation area they are in the process of establishing and enforcing. (Above right: Rizal, Philippines Center; Right: Mt. Bosavi Area, Papua New Guinea Center)
I am personally very inspired by the variety of designs used to create these public spaces. People have to take into account extreme weather, a variety of practical needs for its use, as well as what would make sense culturally for the activities and ceremonies that take place in such a center (Left: Sanoa, Vanuatu). I think the six of us at Seacology all look forward to seeing more centers in the future and how they reflect each community.