Magazine article WE International

WEspeak

Magazine article WE International

WEspeak

Article excerpt

WE speak

Better communities, better designs and better decisions result when those affected by a decision, participate in it. It's the basic notion of democracy. Around the globe everyone pays lip-service to this principle. Yet, when it comes to applying it to building community, stubborn traditions need to be confronted. Housing and city designs still must address the issues posed by power, the tension created by the dominance of men over the public sphere and women's traditional domain in the private sphere. There is the notion of the "expert versus community knowledge and community participation." Then there is the question of meeting the needs of all, not just the most powerful groups in our increasingly diverse communities. The responsibility of nurturing and care giving which most societies have relegated to women and the needs of vulnerable people, such as children, elderly, persons with disabilities are typically not addressed. We are therefore focussing this issue of WE (Women & Environments) International on how women individually or as groups have grappled with these traditions and come up with alternatives to build better communities.

We have chosen three outstanding women: Phyllis Lambert, architect, entrepreneur and community and partnership builder; Pam Cluff, architect and champion of accessibility by design and Lorraine McRae, chief and revitalizer of the Mnjikaning Nation. Each woman has embraced the concept of participation in community building in a very special way. …

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