If you are working with distressed neighborhoods but lack funding or expertise to tackle pressing issues, call on the SDAT, the Sustainable Design Assessment Team. The SDAT is sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and each year they select communities in need, provide around $15,000 in funding and dispatch the SDAT team. What exactly does the SDAT do? They provide community assistance by, according to their mission, helping to develop a “vision and framework for a sustainable future” for communities by “achieving balance between cultural, environmental and economic systems”.
How do they do it? The SDAT team addresses the neighborhood problems they’re met with as cloud problems, nebulous in nature, not a precise issue that can be pinpointed and instantly solved. The SDAT program’s inaugural project in 2009 was a partnership with the East Bayside community in Portland, Maine. In this particular neighborhood, one in five residents lived in public housing associated with a refugee immigration program. With such a diverse population, the neighborhood was concerned about having all their values recognized and honored throughout the SDAT process and in its implementation. The SDAT used crowdsourcing cloud applications during their assessment to address citizen’s concerns.
Watch a great video on the technique:
What did the SDAT achieve in East Bayside? The assessment took note of wide spread feelings of disenfranchisement in the young adults of the neighborhood. In the end, a SDAT initiative helped fund a community workplace for young entrepreneurs. Residents were able to work together to start up internet businesses. Community space was also found to allow women in the area to produce and sell art pieces and native crafts. The SDAT team hopes these community spaces will encourage interactions with other neighborhoods and perhaps even develop into a public market or ethnic festival promoting the unique multicultural diversity of the neighborhood.