Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect whose work includes 'temporary' structures (YT) made from cardboard tubes. His work blurs the distinction between temporary and permanent, and includes designs that focus on cost effective and liveable shelter after natural and human disasters. Now, two-and-a-half years after the Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake destroyed the city's cathedral, the Cardboard Cathedral has been opened. [See also: 1 2 ]
"In the wake of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, former Shooto heavyweight champion Enson Inoue has been on a one-man charity mission, repeatedly traveling to northeast Japan to directly help those in need." A 9-Day Diary of the Trip and an interview about his experience covertly visiting the derelict Fukushima Reactor to feed stray animals and witness the gravity of the disaster zone.
Can social networking be used to effect positive social change? Ushahidi (meaning "testimony" in Swahili) is one such project that harnesses mobile technology to empower local citizens to report on crucial and crisis situations in their area. [more inside]
Monks Succeed in Cyclone Relief as Junta Falters. In Burma (Myanmar) the Buddhist monks are doing more than anyone to help the victims of Cyclone Nargis. At the same time, Burmese officials are trying to stem the influence of the monks by forcing survivors who have sought refuge in monasteries to return to their shattered homes. [Via Barbara's Buddhism Blog.]
Some call FEMA's administration of federal flood insurance and disaster relief illogical and illegal, although you won't find that in FEMA's recent summary of Katrina, which reveals that $15.3 billion dollars in federal flood insurance claims have been paid. That's quite a bit more than the National Flood Insurance Fund's budget, and you may recall that payouts didn't go smoothly. Still, having federal flood insurance, as opposed to relying on disaster relief, has proven its worth during the rebuilding process. Certainly Katrina was an extraordinary phenomenon, unlikely to be repeated any time soon. Perhaps that's why the annual disaster relief budget is smaller this year.
The Katrina Cottage is economical, rather charming, and can serve as a "grow" house. At $35,000 for 308 sq ft, it compares favorably to the $75k FEMA trailer. Not a totally new idea - some of the 1906 earthquake refuge shacks are still in existence in San Francisco. Might tiny houses be the future for disaster relief? (via The Blues and Then Some)
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