D-Lab staff members Amy, Eric and Jessica and graduate student Amit spent the month of July working in São Paulo, Brazil to help organize the 2012 International Development Design Summit (IDDS). This year’s IDDS is not only the first summit to be held in Brazil and led by a local organizing team – it is also the first to have an urban focus and a nearly equal balance of local and international participants. In collaboration with three partner communities, participants from over 15 countries (including several D-Lab students and alumni) focused on developing affordable innovations that can generate a positive effect on the city’s environment and on the living conditions of its inhabitants.
IDDS often has to work with limited resources, and one of the biggest challenges in this year’s urban summit was finding enough space for all the projects and activities. In typical IDDS spirit, people adapted what was available to make things work. The bar in the basement of a local university was turned into a classroom and workshop, teams slept on the floor of a different bar during community visits, and some community meetings and work sessions were held in yet another bar – leading Amy to observe that this summit has involved “raising the bar,” in more ways than one. The urban agriculture team and flooring team could also be found scavenging bars, households, and garbage dumps for materials, as they prototyped low-cost gardening systems and waterproof tiles from old plastic soda bottles and boxed juice containers. Henrique, a community partner from Dois Palitos, commented that he was excited about exploring such creative uses for common materials.
The strong Brazilian presence among the organizers, participants, and partners has been important in working to make the projects more appropriate and sustainable. Recognizing this, IDDS has been connecting with the D-Lab Brazil network of partners to collaborate on projects. There are also plans to engage the January 2013 D-Lab Development class trip to Brazil in helping with IDDS project continuity and follow-up.
IDDS 2012 in Brazil is part of a vision to hold multiple locally-driven summits in future years and establish bases for innovation around the world. Read more about what has been happening at iddsummit.org!