Friday, February 12, 2010 marked one month since Haiti was struck by that devastating earthquake. Friday, February 12, 2010 also marked the beginning of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning’s (DUSP) official engagement with Haiti to assist with its recovery.
The Students of Color Committee (SCC) put out a call for all interested in initiating the discourse on how DUSP can and should engage itself with relief, recovery and rehabilitation efforts in Haiti. People from all over MIT and Boston responded to this call. On the evening of February 12, 2010 about sixty persons from several MIT departments, including DUSP, Media Lab, the Technology and Policy Program, Architecture, Environmental Engineering, Physics, Linguistics and Philosophy, as well as people from Harvard, Northeastern University, and other local organizations came to our meeting.
SCC integrated its monthly supper club into the event. Camie’s Bakery catered a sumptuous dinner, and Camie’s son Jeff gave a brief presentation on the menu, the restaurant’s history and an overview of the Haitian community in the Boston / Cambridge area.
Once the majority of persons were seated, Alex Goldenberg, a second-year Master of City Planning student, gave a brief overview of the purpose of the event: to initiate the DUSP/MIT community in meaningful discussion that will lead to a sustained commitment to the people of Haiti. He discussed the importance of planning with and for the people of Haiti, in an act of solidarity, not charity. Next on the agenda, we screened The Road to Fondwa, a documentary about self-help, community-based, development initiatives in a provincial town in Haiti. After the screening, co-director and guest of honor, Justin Brandon, spoke briefly about his experiences living and working in Haiti, and offered words of advice and encouragement to the group present.
Then, faculty and non-faculty and non-faculty who are already actively working on various relief efforts introduced themselves.
The final event on the evening’s agenda was a network and ideas mapping exercise. Participants broke out into four groups to list and discuss their personal connections, available skills, talents, resources, known ongoing initiatives and their organizers, and to propose interventions that can be undertaken by DUSP/MIT.
If you are interested in finding a way to participate, please contact me, Kristal Peters, directly at kpeters@MIT.EDU, or email MIT’s new central coordination committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.