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Traction champions participatory design, action and research to improve human, ecological and economic health in underserved communities.


1) Foster close collaboration with selected communities through participatory processes that value local knowledge, resources, and capacities. 


2) Promote long-term relationships and a transdisciplinary approach to community design that fosters adaptable planning. 


3) Encourage ecological intelligence and distributed infrastructure planning that improves quality of life and environmental responsibility.


4) Emphasize integrated, multifunctional solutions that engage cultural values to enhance the public realm. 


5) Monitor and evaluate project evolution over time to gain understanding of project impacts.


Urbanization and social inequity are closely related, defining issues of our era. In the next 30 years, virtually all of the world’s population growth will take place in developing cities. By the year 2050, 2 billion people could live in informal urban settlements, or ‘slums’. Slums are born out of the complex interactions of social, political, environmental, and economic systems. The challenges that ‘slum’ dwellers face are complex and multifaceted. They range from a lack of adequate sanitation to increased vulnerability to climate change.

Despite the hardships they face, slum communities are remarkably vibrant and resilient. By privileging local knowledge and working in close collaboration with community members, we not only have the opportunity to improve living conditions, we also stand to learn a great deal about emergent, bottom-up processes of city making.

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