Aspotogan Penninsula Community Planning Process

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This project involved students working with planners and community members, from children to seniors, to gather their ideas for a vision of their community in the future. Students facilitated a range of focus groups using innovative data gathering and mapping techniques.

 

Town of Wolfville Community Space Accessibility Audit

Accessibility audits of significant community meeting and gathering spaces was conducted by RMCD students. Municipal accessibility best practices were explored and recommendations were made to the Town of Wolfville.

 

“Community” and “Development” in Northern India

The 2013 Core Term International Project involved an expedition to Northern India across three and a half weeks with time spent in a large urban setting (Delhi) and a remote rural community in the Himalaya (Sarmoli). The aim was to learn about and contribute to community development in very different settings.

Poverty, Consumption and Community in Delhi
In Delhi we experienced very divergent contexts, including:

  • a visit to an enormous Delhi slum that lacked safe drinking water, reliable electricity or nearby toilets. The small concrete room was home to four people. We shared a deep conversation with three generations of a family about their lives relative to ours.
  • a night time walk through a sprawling bazaar, including time with street children and reflections on how they might be supported to get off the street
  • time spent observing and conversing in a large suburban shopping mall catering to the affluent

We were overwhelmed by the inequity but also by the warmth, pride and sense of community among those who were living in abysmal physical conditions.

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We spent two weeks living with individual families in Sarmoli, a remote village of three hundred households in the high mountains. We learned about and practiced a subsistence lifestyle, be it cooking, weaving, farming, knitting, food processing or walking mountain slopes. We contributed to the community in keeping with our skills: building plastic greenhouses, working with community members to dredge a pond, providing recreational activities for children and writing about our experiences for the community tourism website and yearly festival.

Community Life and the Women’s Collective
We stayed in the homes of members of the Maati Women’s Collective and worked with the core members a good deal of the time. Cooking was mostly done over fires or a gas burner in small kitchens while people slept in small adjacent rooms. Grid electricity was intermittent though most homes had a limited solar back up system for lights. Everyone grew their own food and most had a few animals.

Conclusions
The issues of “development” are multifaceted and complex. Living in a subsistence community helped us see the merits and challenges of such a lifestyle.  We experienced a warmth and sense of community uncommon in Canada. We left with many questions:

  • What policies might encourage those in rural communities to stay and recognize the benefits of their current context while addressing the problems?
  • Are there ways to support and develop sustainable and healthy communities in urban areas without promising affluence at all costs?
  • What would it mean to have people-centred development?

In venturing out into strange worlds, we ultimately recognized how similar the issues are to those at home. 

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