COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT: The project adopts Participatory Action Research as a framework for grassroots development among multi-ethnic island communities who have collectively taken the initiative to take their community development agenda into their own hands. The Losuia Community organized themselves into grassroots research teams to conduct village level data-gathering, participatory social mapping, and community dialogues leading to participatory design of viable micro-projects. Breaking the perennial “researcher-researched” dichotomy by doing baseline research of their own, the grassroots communities have managed to equip themselves with baseline information for the participatory planning and design of a strategic Community Resource Center as a pilot community-managed development project.
The emerging building design incorporated the vital social agenda of affected sectors who were ably assisted by volunteer technical professionals, building on local indigenous knowledge and relevant vernacular architecture. In particular, the proposed Community Resource Center design adopts the architectural and socio-cultural value of the Trobriand “Yam House” as an indigenous icon of cultural resilience, responsiveness to emerging social needs, and adaptation to the impact of climate change in the Pacific.
PARTNERS: The ongoing Participatory Action Research processes have equipped the Grassroots communities themselves as key stakeholders in their own development, while critically challenging the local Government (Kiriwina District and Milne Bay Province), the local Church (local Catholic Mission under the Diocese of Alotau-Sideia), and other development partners. Serving as an ‘Intermediary Support Organization’ (ISO), the Melanesian Institute (MI) technically assists the Losuia community to grow and mature into a dynamic “Community-Based Organization” (CBO) through hands-on collaborative projects. MI’s pool of technical support and professional volunteers have so far assisted the Losuia CBO in the Participatory Community Research and Project Planning processes, including the architectural design of the Community Resource Center. Rainer Kašik, Architect / Civil Engineer, Vienna, Austria / Kiunga, Papua New Guinea is currently assisting the ongoing project.