I know that I may have romanticized the winding nature of Piletone’s streets yesterday, but really I was just trying to recognize a common ground amoung all humans–through cultures and centuries. There’s a similarity in informal orgnization because there’s a similarity between all of us through our humanity. I did not mean to diminish the struggles the residents go through on a daily basis or underestimate their needs. We took a walking tour through Piletones today and I could see faces watching us through nearly every window. It felt like we were the white elephant in the room/town. Sometimes I wonder how they view us. I know that we want to help, but are we perpetuating the stereotype or myth or fantasy of the white savior? The notion that Americans think that no one else who is suffering is able to help themselves, but that the answer can only ever come in the form of a white, American savior who rushes in, saves the day, and promptly leaves. I want to make sure we don’t live up (or down) to that reputation. I think that means a couple of things.

It means that we need to embraces a huge amount of humility and admit that we don’t know everything, and we don’t have all of the answers. We don’t know what the community needs more than the community knows. We need to listen, and listen deeply. Architects in general have a God complex and we tend to think that we automatically know best what people need and how they need it–and all without first-hand knowledge of the program. The teachers in Piletones know exactly what they need because they’re there everyday. They may not know how the answer should be produced, but they know the answer they need: heat, ventilation, organization, a safe playground. We may come up with ingenious ways to provide these solutions (or straightforward common solutions) but we need to be sure that we do, in fact, ACTUALLY solve the problem.

Next, there needs to be longevity in not just the solutions provided but also consistency in providing solutions. There should be a lasting relationship, not abandonment. Or they should be set up to help themselves even more. In the case of Los Piletones and other villas, help and development will be needed for years to come.