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Posts Tagged ‘human right’

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Photo: Christian Chavez/AP
Children on the Mexican side play on a cross-border seesaw that two professors designed to highlight human connection.

The language of illegality has for many decades gotten in the way of our communal understanding that seeking asylum is a basic human right. Seeking asylum doesn’t necessarily mean being granted asylum — efficient processes have to be put in place to weigh individual circumstances — but it is not illegal to ask.

I get very discouraged about the way our country has long been treating human beings who have run for their lives. Then I see that not everyone is on board with the policies.

Lanre Bakare writes at the Guardian, “A set of fluorescent pink seesaws has been built across the US-Mexico border by a pair of professors seeking to bring a playful concept of unity to the two sides of the divide.

“Installed along the steel border fence on the outskirts of El Paso in Texas and Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, the seesaws are the invention of Ronald Rael, a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and Virginia San Fratello, an associate professor of design at San José State University, who first came up with the concept 10 years ago.

“In an Instagram post that has received tens of thousands of likes [see @rrael ], children and adults can be seen playing and interacting on both sides of the fence using the seesaws, which provide ‘a literal fulcrum’ between the countries, according to Rael. He said the event was about bringing ‘joy, excitement and togetherness at the border wall.’

“He added that it was also about finding ‘meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.’ …

chim-pom-la-cmiranda-1484692729-snap-photo

Photo: Carolina Miranda/ LA Times
Japanese art collective Chim↑Pom is one of many groups to build art projects along the U.S.-Mexico border. This one is a tree house called USA Visitor Center.

“Other art projects have been planned for the border. Estudio 3.14, an architectural practice in Mexico, designed a pink interpretation … inspired by the 20th-century Mexican architect Luis Barragán, employing the pink pastel colour he often used in his designs.

“Dozens of artists have used the wall as a setting for projects, including the Japanese art collective Chim Pom, which created a treehouse in Tijuana with ‘USA Visitor Center’ written on the side.” More at the Guardian, here. And for the Carolina A. Miranda Los Angeles Times report on the treehouse, click here.

 

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Dr. Paul Farmer, the subject of a great Tracy Kidder book called Mountains Beyond Mountains, has spent many years delivering medical care — and working to alleviate poverty — in remote areas of Haiti. His nonprofit organization, Partners in Health, takes the word “partners” seriously. The teams do not tell the locals what is good for them but makes a point of learning from them and helping them get what they need.

In recent years, Farmer has been in demand in other countries, too. One focus area has been Rwanda. I liked a recent Boston Globe article on the approach to building a Partners in Health hospital there.

“The designers quickly realized that the challenge was not simply to draw up plans, as they had first thought, but rather to understand the spread of airborne disease and design a building that would combat — and in some cases sidestep — the unhealthy conditions common to so many hospitals.

“Learning from health care workers that hospital hallways were known sites of contagion, poorly ventilated, and clogged with patients and visitors, MASS Design decided that the best solution would be to get rid of the hallways. Taking advantage of Rwanda’s temperate climate, they placed the circulation outdoors, designing open verandas running the lengths of the buildings. …

“When it came to building, MASS Design looked at the Partners in Health model of involving local poor communities in health care, and realized that they could apply the same ideas to the construction process. The hospital was built entirely using local labor, providing food and health care for the workers. Unskilled workers received training that would help them get more work; and skilled laborers, notably the Rwandan masons who built the hospital’s exterior from carefully fitted together local volcanic stone, refined their craft and found themselves in demand all over the country. The construction process also beefed up local infrastructure — new roads and a hydroelectric dam — creating more jobs and literally paving the way for future projects.”

To paraphrase what Farmer often says, the biggest challenge to health is poverty. Read more.

Update on the designers from the June 19, 2012, Boston Globe.

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