In 2008, we conducted a set of six integrated projects focused on helping one informal settlement – Monwabisi Park – move toward the goal of transforming their squatter camp into a socially and ecologically sustainable “ecovillage.” Students worked closely with community members, local leaders, and city agencies to conduct projects on six themes – buildings, water and sanitation, energy, communications, economic development and urban planning and mapping – that had three aims:

1) to analyze existing community practices and conditions;
2) to generate options and a coherent plan for realizing the ecovillage vision;
3) to implement hands-on programs and projects, such as a sewing center and “TV Indlovini,” designed to make near-term, tangible contributions to the life of the community.

The work was assembled into a 200 page report that included chapters covering the work of each of the individual teams as well as an “integrated plan” chapter prepared by all that set forth a core notion behind the redevelopment strategy: to “grow” change in small, incremental steps that maximize public and private benefits, maintain and strengthen local social networks and decision-making, create jobs, training and leadership development opportunities, and build the foundation for a healthier community going forward [Final Report Part 1 PDF 9 MB, Final Report Part 2 PDF 7 MB].