Kiki & Lala

Opportunities Abound, Miracles All Around

Posted on: October 7, 2009

As the talk over there has shifted from distributing relief goods to rebuilding affected communities, there is actually a great opportunity to improve inefficient practices or outdated systems in government, both local and national.  I think our resilience as a people puts us in the perfect vantage point to see opportunities in the face of heart-wrenching tragedy.

As you join Flower and Litte Twin-bokal in discussing ways to rebuild Rizal’s 2nd District, I thought I’d share with you some of the brilliant ideas that have arisen from unimaginable calamities and devastating tragedies.

Four years ago this country got a nasty whipping from Katrina, Ondoy’s big sister perhaps.  For many Americans, the sights and sounds coming from the remains of New Orleans were just too painful to associate with such a resource-filled and powerful nation like the US.   I’m not going to get into the “what happened?” and the “who is to blame?” rant because  past is past, what happened happened.  I will however share with you how some pioneers who found opportunities floating (pun!) in the murky waters that flooded New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana.

Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation unveiled a new house design that can withstand floods.  What makes it special from all other houses?  It floats!  Yes Lala, just like hope.  Here’s a prototype below.

Floating House

They made sure to incorporate the ubiquitous front porch found in New Orleans culture

The Float House, as it is called, was designed by Morphosis Architects headed by this guy called Thom Mayne,  a progressive and multi-awarded architect with a range of high profile projects under his belt.   In a non-technical nutshell, Mr. Mayne and his team designed a house that has a “raft”, like a chassis really, made of polystyrene foam and covered it with glass-reinforced concrete.  This chassis allows the house to float once the floods set in.   So as the water rises, so does the house, as high as 12 feet.  The house also has guideposts that prevent it from drifting.  Very out-of-the-box  dont you think?  Here’s the house from another angle.


When designing this house, they wanted to marry keeping a sense of community and continuity in a neighborhood and addressing the flood problems that many communities experience today.  With the opportunity that Mr. Mayne seized, he has created a little miracle for those who were left homeless by Katrina.

After 9/11, New York City embarked on an ambitous plan to connect the city. The objective was to equip the city to be more responsive to its citizens’ needs (urgent and otherwise) as well as introduce a new culture of efficiency and transparency in government services.  When Michael Bloomberg became mayor he established the NYC 311 Hotline.  Think of this as a customer service hotline for New York residents. Any non-emergency concern or complaint goes through this hotline.  With the advent of the iPhone, New York City users can now file complaints, with a photo, to 311.  The city will know the location of the complaint based on the iPhone’s GPS capabilities and respond more quickly.  Efficient don’t you think?  Here he is launching the Conncected City Initiative, which will connect and inform New York City.


The objective here is to make information available to New Yorkers using all available communication channels – emails, text, iPhone Apps, etc.  You can receive traffic, weather, transportation or public health alerts in your email or your cellphone.  They even have “Silver Alerts” for missing senior citizens!  So in the event we lose Lolo in NYC, our neighbors will keep their eyes and ears open!

Being informed and connected, the city is now compelled to respond faster and residents are now compelled to help each other.   From the ashes of 9/11 rose opportunities seized by Mayor Bloomberg to create a culture of collaboration, cooperation and compassion.  In a city that is rough and jagged around the edges, don’t you think this is nothing short of a miracle?


4 Responses to "Opportunities Abound, Miracles All Around"

brad…. is…. perfect….

Yes perfect is the only word to describe. He is so evolved. He should be an urban dev consultant in the Philippines!

i like it!
it looks cheap, easy and simple – not unlike a bahay kubo…
but we know those don’t float at least not float AND stay in one piece.

Why dont we post that challenge to Mr. Mayne?!

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