Documenting the Spatial Practices of Global Migration


Higher Education and Streetvending

Category : SPACES 08/19/2015
Higher Education and Streetvending

Over the past 3 years, the number of food vendors at Broadway and 116th Street in Manhattan has increased very…

Urban Experiments in the Sand

Category : SPACES 01/15/2013
Urban Experiments in the Sand

Written during a month-long stay at the Unesco Chair for Social and Spatial Inclusion of International Migrants at the IUAV…

Removing Rubble

Category : FIELD TRIP, SPACES 01/21/2012

Walking through the streets and neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince the destruction of the January, 2010 earthquake is still eerily evident. There are still tens of thousands of destroyed buildings throughout the city and many appear to have been completely untouched since they collapsed two years ago. Like most things involving rebuilding in Haiti, the process of rubble removal is complex. The costs of hauling away rubble is quite high and even for those who can pay, there is no suitable dumpsite that can absorb the amount of rubble that still needs to be removed. Additionally, owners are reluctant to allow for hauling until rebuilding plans are in place as it is difficult to secure a vacant lot in a city full of squatters where the poor are desperately seeking any space to rebuild their homes outside of the IDP camps.

Despite the challenges rubble removal does offer some opportunities, one of which is now underway in Carrefour Feuilles. Processed rubble can be used as construction material for things like retaining walls, steps, drainage channels and other infrastructure needed to improve and secure neighborhoods built on the steep topography of the Port-au-Prince hillsides. Given the high costs of hauling, it makes sense to process and sell rubble locally allowing for easier access to markets and creating jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities in the community. The rubble processing operation pictured here is located on the site of the former Haitian Red Cross building destroyed in the earthquake. The business operates under a production based payment system and while still in the nascent stages, there are plans to scale up with larger equipment expanding production to meet the growing market for construction materials driven by NGO and Haitian government investment in local reconstruction efforts.

Haitian Migration to Brazil

Category : SPACES 01/10/2012

photo:New York Times

Somehow it seems fitting that my first blog post from Port au Prince should be on the topic of Haitian migration. As luck would have it the New York Times is reporting this week on Haitians migrating to Brazil in search of opportunities in construction and other service industries. Brazil is happy to accept Haitian workers due in large part to longstanding cultural and political ties between the two countries but also because of the large unmet demand for labor in Brazil’s growing economy. As Haiti struggles to cope with the impact of the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of Port au Prince, Brazil offers opportunities for Haitians that their own country cannot provide. Haiti will commemorate the two year anniversary of the quake this week on January 12. Many are hopeful that as the country begins the long process of rebuilding, Haitians will soon find opportunities for work at home that they are now seeking abroad. Click here for the full text and slideshow.

Stay tuned for more original reporting in the coming weeks as I settle in to life and work in Port au Prince.

Global Detroit

Category : SPACES 11/13/2011
photo: Model D

Detroit, once one of the most important industrial cities in United States and the world, has been in a period of slow decline over the past generation as it struggles to cope with the loss of it’s economic base. Despite the challenges, there are innovative ideas emerging as Detroit seeks new resources to help build it’s future. 

One of the most exciting initiatives now underway is Global Detroit which capitalizes on the talent of Metro Detroit’s international community and skilled workforce. A particularly fascinating strategy levegerges Detroit’s close proximity to the U.S.-Canadian border to strengthen the Detroit-Windsor economic region. Global Detroit has developed cross-border partnerships with regional development agencies to aggressively recruit firms that want to expand in the U.S. but are restrained by the visa cap on skilled workers. American businesses in the “new economy” and technology sectors have faced significant hurdles in attracting highly-skilled immigrant workers because of restrictive U.S. immigration laws that place a cap on H-1B visas at 65,000–far below the actual demand for this labor.  Recall that Microsoft opened it’s new software development center in Vancouver, Canada in 2007 pointing to restrictive US immigration laws as a primary cause for locating outside of the United States. Global Detroit’s vision is that Detroit-Windsor will be a leading “nearshoring” base for the New Economy.  To read more, visit the New Economy Initiative of Southeast Michigan.  And for more about good ideas in Detroit go to Model D, a very cool blog by folks who obviously care very much about the future of this great city.