Giving Compass’ Take:
• National Endowment for the Arts interviews Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative Executive Director Joseph Kunkel on helping Native Americans get access to affordable housing and be their own architects.
• Sustainable housing a component here, but empowerment is the key. What can we do to support the efforts of change-makers like Kunkel in this area?
The Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (SNCC) has been working in Indian Country since 2009, developing affordable, environmentally sustainable, and culturally responsive housing. A National Endowment for the Arts grantee, SNCC works holistically with the community in a collaborative process, believing that community members must be the architects of their own vision. What SNCC brings to the table is an architectural process — a process that responds to culture, place, and community. The bigger mission is to enable tribes to build their own sovereignty, and to strengthen their own communities.
SNCC Executive Director Joseph Kunkel grew up between Native-American and white communities, which gave him a unique combination of education and experience that led him to social impact architecture. As head of SNCC, he has developed a visionary’s understanding of its practice and sees holistic collaboration at its core.
“There’s just an incredible lack of access to housing in general,” says Kunkel. “There’s an immediate need of 200 thousand plus units of housing, and that is just not being satisfied. Financing, access to capital, access to private financing is lacking in Indian Country … Design is a component of the overall process, and it’s a very important component of the process, but we need to kind of strategically think about how we’re going to holistically think about development, from predevelopment, understanding capital, understanding ways in which we then can leverage that capital into physical building.”
Read the full article about the social impact of architecture on Native communities by Jo Reed at NEA.
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