Tuesday, December 21, 2010


A scrappy rooster strutting around in the rural Haitian village of Gaia. He's the cock of the walk, the top chicken, the main bird. Stay outta his way....

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Mayor of Ganthier

I stayed with the Mayor, Ralph Lapointe and his three delightful little daughters, for a week in April. It was hot, no electricity, no gas, he had very critical tasks to attend to, but he was completely gracious in welcoming me to his home and town. Here he is holding court in his driveway trying to stay cool in the afternoon breezes.
Several months later his life was in danger by thugs trying to take over large areas of land in his town. The locals demonstrated and Mayor Lapointe went to court, but the battle of ownership is not over. It is a complex issue as much of the paperwork was destroyed in the earthquake. There is a need for new housing, but is shouldn't be on land that is occupied , especially for no compensation. See - http://goo.gl/ORcMO

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gaia in Haiti

A small rural neighborhood near Fond-Parisien, Gaia certainly has plenty of Mother Nature, if indeed its name comes from the Greek Goddess of Earth. Our truck broke down and we walked (the most common form of transportation) several miles to Fond-Parisien. It was a much better way to see the connection to the earth and the everyday difficulties of survival.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Fond Parisien

As far as I can tell 'Fond' means essence or soul (at least in French). I'm not sure this village of 20,000 plus would qualify as the essence of Paris, tho perhaps in a much earlier age. It has no electricity, no fresh water, no sewer, and the whole country had been out of gasoline for two weeks. It is inundated with refugees from Port-au-Prince and with walking distance of the Dominican Republic border.

The building above represents the dominant architectural style - Rebar Deco. Many buildings are partially built and most have rebar sticking out of the top to be able to add another story. The earthquake has made multistory structures suspect, so perhaps these sprays of steel will be consigned to history.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Haiti House

In May I was fortunate to spend a week in Haiti in the town of Ganthier, 15 miles or so east of Port-au-Prince and near the border of Dominican Republic. There was not as much damage from the earthquake here, but there was still evidence of its powerful destructive effect. This stone-built house had several walls demolished, and seemed to be standing more from pride than gravity.
The larger problem in these areas is the influx (or sometimes return) of people from Port-au-Prince and living in camps, some with tents, others just with sheets. My work was to do planning for expanding this town. This will be difficult as 80% of public records for land ownership were destroyed. A perhaps more likely scenario for provision of housing, and especially jobs, might be entirely new towns on land that is clearly owned by the government. This is the hope for a town I designed for 12,000 between Ganthier and Bonnet.