January 21st - Chapter Network Announces Executive Director

January 3rd - 2015 Year In Review




October - SxSW Eco Session "Beyond Just Giving a Damn" (SxSW Soundcloud)

October 29th - SxSW Eco Talk, Additional Funding and more...

  • Volunteer Spotlight: Nick Dean
  • Project Spotlight: AFHNY's Day of Impact

September 30th - SxSW Eco next week & New structure taking shape

August 27th - We're Rebranding - We want your input!

July 30th - Join us at SxSW Eco in Austin!

May 30 - Meet Our Transition Coordinator

May 6 - Response to Nepal's devastating earthquake

April 27 - Notes from the Chapter Leadership Roundtable

April 23 - News: Growing the Conversation

March 31 - Release: Chapter Network to present at Structures For Inclusion conference

March 19 - First Hire: Transition Coordinator job description posted

March 11 - News: Striding Forward

February 23 - Steering Committee Formed

February 19 - AFH Chapters Rally to Continue Humanitarian Design Work with New, Bold Plans (via Impact Design Hub)

January 22 - Chapter Network commits to continue mission

January 22 - Statement: From Board of Directors, Architecture for Humanity



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Chapter Network Announces Executive Director

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, January 21, 2016 – This morning the AFH Chapter Network  announced Garrett Jacobs as its inaugural Executive Director. The Chapter Network is an international, professional volunteer group previously affiliated with the nonprofit Architecture for Humanity (AFH), before the nonprofit’s abrupt closure in early 2015. Jacobs has spent several years working with both AFH and the Chapter Network before accepting a leading role last year to pursue organizational autonomy for the Network.

“We are delighted to have Garrett lead the network during our relaunch and incorporation in this next phase of growth and development,” said architect Taye Olajide of Abuja, Nigeria. Olajide is the Africa Regional Representative of the Chapter Network Steering Committee. “This year, we will work to expand membership, extend our outreach in collaborative grassroots design, and propel advocacy to communities in need.”

Following AFH’s dissolution in January, 2015, Jacobs, as Acting Chairperson, orchestrated the leadership of 32 locally-based AFH chapters around the world to pursue the common interest of continuing their work in a united, self-governing format. In the succeeding months, the Chapter Network formed an international steering committee, secured seed funding, hired a Transition Coordinator, investigated business models, and launched a rebranding campaign. In December, the steering committee voted unanimously to appoint Jacobs to the new role of Executive Director, the Chapter Network’s second paid position.

“I am incredibly honored to serve this network,” says Jacobs. “It is a true privilege to organize with designers committed to creating a more equitable, sustainable and socially just world using the power of participatory design. I started with this group as a volunteer, and I will strive to build an organization where anyone can envision a similar pathway to leadership. Through honesty, trust, patience, and really hard work, we will build the organization we believe can change the world through design.”

In his role, Jacobs will be responsible for coordinating the organization's global network of activities, including: the founding of a Board of Directors; raising funds to support sustained operation; coordinating communications and content creation; developing partnerships; and launching a new brand. Immediate goals for Jacobs are the expansion of network leadership and defining the core competencies of a global platform serving allied professionals and their local marginalized communities.

Jacobs first joined the San Francisco Chapter of Architecture for Humanity in 2012. He was then brought on as a Design Fellow for the nonprofit’s headquarters, and subsequently served on AFH staff as the Outreach Coordinator from 2013 - 2014. Jacobs joined Code for America as Peer Network Coordinator and then Fellowship Engagement Lead from 2014 - 2015, while remaining active in Chapter Network coordination on a voluntary basis.  

Jacobs officially began his directorship on January 11, 2016.

2015 Year In Review

JANUARY – Chapter leaders were blindsided and shocked by the announcement that Architecture for Humanity closed its doors. Many statements of continued operations quickly followed.

FEBRUARY – Over 45 Chapter leaders from around the world convened in NYC and virtually for a discussion of next steps. The day’s discoveries challenged us to define the benefits of working together.

MARCH – We committed to collaborating, formed the International Steering Committee, and secured a generous gift from the CurryStone Foundation to support our work.

APRIL – The Steering Committee and local leaders assembled at the Structures for Inclusion conference in Detroit. We presented our efforts and spent a day in a facilitated strategy and alignment session (thanks Joel)!

MAY – We conducted a rigorous hiring process to find our Transition Coordinator and launched Subcommittee Working Groups. 85 people signed up to help!

JUNE – Welcome Alicia! As our first paid contractor Alicia helped coordinate and organize our efforts, building capacity just when needed it. Thanks for keeping us on task;)

JULY – We elected to rebrand and chose a nonprofit business model for an umbrella. The new organization will be responsible for incubating local chapters and supporting the members in the network.

AUGUST – Let’s rebrand! We launched a rebranding campaign and collected recordings and feedback from members to begin work with branding consultants.

SEPTEMBER – We presented our organizing efforts and renewed vision at the SxSW ECO conference. The chapters from Chicago, DC, and Dhaka all had projects recognized in the Place By Design Showcase.

OCTOBER – After extensive research on network governance, we created and approved our future structure. We’ll have a Board of Directors and a Regional Leaders Council to ensure representation from the local chapters.

NOVEMBER – Thank you CurryStone Design Prize for 6 months of additional support! This allows us to hire a position for the first half of 2016 and establish the 501(c)3 umbrella entity.

DECEMBER – Choosing and voting in a new name was no easy collective task! But 120 emails and two elections later we’ve got one! We also appointed an ED for 2016. More details will emerge early in the New Year....

THANK YOU to everyone who made it possible! Here’s to an incredible 2016!

Advisers: Bryan Bell, Frank Bergh, Eric Cesal, Tim Culvahouse, Cliff Curry, Mo Dhaliwal, Audry Galo, Dan Geiger, Michael Grote, Allen “Gunnar” Gunn, Elizabeth Han, Matthew Manos, Laurenellen Mccann, Joel Mills, Margie Odriscoll, Eric Piper, Beth Rubenstein, John Peterson, Donald Simon, Bob Sofman, Hannah Young and everyone else that had the patience to speak about this a chapter leader this year!

Supporters: CurryStone Design Prize

Steering Committee Leaders: Ashley Adams, Rachel Bailey, Ricardo Daza, Chandra Farley, Josef Fuentes, Kim Hanschen, Garrett Jacobs, Karl Johnson, Matthew Joiner, Magda Lopez, Katherine McNeil, Rayya Newman, Danielle Key Odis, Taye Olajide, Hector Puga, Rachel Starobinsky, Tom Veed, Michael Vega
Transition Coordinator: Alicia Breck

SxSW Eco Session "Beyond Just Giving a Damn"



From SxSW:

Hear from Garrett Jacobs, Acting Chair of AFH Chapter Network, about how 34 AFH chapters have banded together to tackle a new design problem: the continuation and development of their consensus based, community driven organization... Garrett will walk through the organizational challenges that are turning this network of architects and designers into social entrepreneurs, and reveal how AFH Chapters will continue the work that has impacted so many across the globe.

SxSW Eco Talk & Additional Funding

(Oct. 29, 2015) The presentation revealing our mission, goals and activities this past year was well received at SxSW Eco. You can check out a recording of the talk here and follow along with the presentation here


We aim to softly launch our new organization on a milestone - January 17th. Precisely one year after AFH HQ announced it was closing its doors. In the meantime we are hammering out the details of how we will self govern and lining up our logistical ducks.

We are also honored to announce continued support from the Curry Stone Foundation to continue our work for the next six months! We are grateful for their continued support and encouragement for our network to support the local practitioners and advocate for Public Interest Design.

In that vein, I have just published a post of how I believe we need to organize to ensure the most impact as a movement. Four main principles are:

  • Organizing around outcomes
  • Operating in the open
  • Establishing strong partnerships
  • Owning the politics of our work


As we continue laying the inclusive foundation of the network, we are also building partnerships to scale the great work others have been doing for years. After all, the network has shown that it is the work of members on the ground that makes all the difference, it’s why we are still here, and is the sole purpose of continuing the effort. These partnerships aim to bring you more resources and trainings as members.


Another great opportunity to showcase your projects if fast approaching. The Design Corps SEED Awards is accepting applications - but hurry, the deadline in November 19! Also, the Citizen's Institute on Rural Design is looking for host citifies for the 2016-2017 Rural Design Workshops - deadline January 12, 2016.


 Volunteer Spotlight: Nick Dean


Nick was one of the early instigators of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter in 2009,  bringing an infectious spirit for public-interest design to the chapter. His love and dedication for this work has not gone unnoticed. In January 2014, the chapter was invited by the City of Dallas to work alongside the Cigarette Hill/Five Mile neighborhood in Oak Cliff as it worked towards. 


A rural-setting community 10 minutes from downtown, Cigarette Hill/Five Mile had just begun to organize its crime watch group. Nick's ability to articulate the community’s vision resulted in programming exercises, team building, and the facilitation of coordinated efforts to have the community's voice heard through proper city channels. As a facilitator between City officials and the community, Nick both advocated and designed sign toppers (currently being installed) as well as a monument sign. These projects were developed in partnership with community leaders, resulting in identifiers for the Cigarette Hill/Five Mile neighbourhoods that signify the pride and vibrancy people have for their community.


Nick’s engagement allowed the community’s concerns to be heard and it’s needs to be understood. He is a great member of the chapter, dedicated to the organization while balancing full time work and family.


Project Spotlight: AFHNY's Day of Impact


October 17th marked the second year of AFHny's (our New york Chapter) Day of Impact. Originally established to celebrate the chapter's capacity to make a difference through both short- and long-term commitments to communities through design services, the day brings together volunteers, architecture and design professionals and communities to partner on various projects an sites throughout the city.

AFHny's (now annual) Day of Impact is the only organized event for Archtober in New York City. Organized through some of the regions leading social impact organizations, this year's projects included gardening, parentage, the installation of solar safety lights, and the restoration of a public mosaic wall, throughout New York City. Last year DOI volunteers contributed approximately $23,000 work of hands-on labour through these projects and they estimate and even larger contribution for this year! Way to go!

SxSW Eco this week & New Structure taking shape

Four local chapter projects selected for SxSW ECO Place by Design Awards!


ACTIVATE! - Urban Strategy - AFH Chicago & Latent Design

SAVE ALTGELD Social Impact - AFH Chicago


A PLACE TO GO - Resilience - AFH DC project partner

This diagram represents the new network as a nimble one that serves the development of local groups.
This diagram represents the new network as a nimble one that serves the development of local groups.


Thanks to everyone who took part in the video survey! It was great to have so many voices from around the world involved.  We had some amazing responses - top trends showed:

  • We are a Network of people sharing skills for communities in need.
  • We define our Mission as local and cross-disciplinary, with a range of services.
  • We believe a Coalition will improve knowledge sharing between Chapters, and help the organization grow, collaborate, and strengthen local work.
  • We work with people, communities, and organizations in need of design services to improve their built environment, their communities, and the world.
  • We get involved to break free from the daily grind and give back to the community. We are passionate, driven, and like to help.

While these trends may seem vague they lay the groundwork and validate the conclusions our Steering Committee has arrived at after 9 months, which can be highlighted by these points:

  • Projects are best done locally, through the chapters
  • Chapter members work with communities they care deeply about and get involved to gain valuable professional experience
  • The network needs to support the development of chapters as local businesses and provide resource for its members
  • The organization will shift from a banner to rally under to a platform for people to launch their professional careers in Public Interest Design
  • The network remains the accessible place to practice community focused design

We are currently working with our branding experts to develop a few names. As a network we will vote on the one that suits the new structure best, with a full launch at the beginning of next year.


Volunteer Spotlight! Dolly Kamboj, Toronto CA


After graduating University, Dolly joined AFH Toronto as a way of pursuing her interest is designing for communities in need. Lending her skills as a project manager to the Chapter she spearheaded the Samo Solutions Project, a housing project in Kismayo, Somalia. A team of five designers focused on creating a creative, easily constructible, one-story, low-cost housing prototype. Constructed of Samo Earth Blocks and designed with inspiration of the courtyard block, typical of Somali homes and climate specific. Samo Solutions, the community partner, is finalizing the housing layouts with the local government and creating a program for the displaced youth to participate in materials and construction technique training to be used in their sweat equity program by their beneficiaries.


Thanks to Dolly's dedicated leadership and great partner management the project is now under construction and will house Internally Displaced People and refugees currently housed in refugee camps. This project is a huge win for the team, as it will help address issues and challenges of safety, privacy, and sustainability in Somalia. And proved our ability to deliver on and international multifamily housing scale.



We are proud to acknowledge Dolly's leadership on this project and salute team on a job well done.

We're Rebranding. Lend your voice!

We're definitely getting into the nitty gritty. Want to learn how to form a non-profit humanitarian design network? Join us ;) We're drafting bylaws to enable regional chapter leaders as decision makers, researching revenue models, launching social media accounts and gathering our data on projects and initiatives.


We're rebranding! If you're up for it, we want your input.


Volunteer Spotlight! Gina Fantoni

Houston, TX

A transplant to Houston in 2014, Gina quickly found her way to AfHHouston and hit the ground running, joining the Mercado de Northside Pop Up Project team. Her dedication to the project quickly solidified her as an integral part of the team, and her seemingly endless energy inspired the team to push the project over numerous design obstacles. Gina's special brand of determination kept the team and the community partners laughing while they worked together. No matter the task, she was up for it. With a unique ability to understand and bring the ideas of volunteers and community members to fruition, Gina encourages collaborative design discussion and works tirelessly to translate those ideas into reality.

With that same tenacity, Gina is now leading Houston's Resiliency Mapping Project with board member Jon Cordingley. The project aims to create a platform using mobile apps and street graphics to help community members utilize the abundance of resources that exist, but which may not be readily accessible, especially in times of crisis and natural disasters. She's managed this project through its early design and is currently working to create a community survey to implement in a local community. Her work continues to illustrate the same resoluteness, selfless focus, and ability to really hear the voices of the volunteers and the client. Houston is lucky to have her!


Project Spotlight! School Within Schools - Washington D.C.

By: Josef Fuentes

In October 2014 the AfHDC Chapter was asked to partner with School Within School, a Reggio Emilia Approach inspired public school. The school was in need of design services but lacked budget to hire an architect. AFHDC jumped in and over the next few months volunteers met with representatives from the School's Environmental Committee to pin down the scope, schedule, and available funds. These meetings brought together the voices and vision of the teachers and helped define the project. Three classroom-sized spaces would be renovated to support the unique approach to learning. This meant designing flexible and open spaces, storage structures, partition walls and spatial graphics. It also meant building or finding chairs, tables, shelves, stools, and a smartboard.

Despite some potential challenges the project we focused on gathering the larger community of parents, school support staff, and children together around the work. We hosted a kickoff meeting, engaging in design sessions, and did a little more project scoping. Together we designed the rooms, functions of the spaces, and materials needed to make it all possible. The effort came together with a materials grant from a re-use store called Community Forklift. We had a very small window to build, it happened in one day on May 30th.

On build we organized everyone into groups defined by room and skill available skills. The day saw some revisions, technical challenges, and debates over design implementation. Collectively, we knew there were multiple ways of doing anything, but as long as we were open to hearing an idea we could discuss, decide, and act quickly. More than twelve hours later the project wrapped!

Thought the design process involved many stakeholders and the build day was very exhausting, the chapter volunteers payoff came in the form of a thank you photo from all the teachers, smiling in and enjoying their new space. They held a sign, their positive energy gleaming, that's all it took for us to know the collaborative experience was well worth it.

Join us at SxSW Eco in Austin!

Mark your calendar for October 5 - 7, and join us and hundreds of other innovators, designers and business leaders in Austin, Texas, for SXSW Eco. Acting Chair Garrett Jacobs will discuss the inner workings of the network and our future plans - meaning we're taking the new organization to the big time! You won't want to miss what this gathering has in store.


Our network has an exclusive 40% off the ticket price:

Email us at afhchapters [@] gmail [dot] com for the comp code




Volunteer Spotlight! Julia Siple - Washington D.C. 


The AFHdc design project in Lefiso, a small town in South Africa, was just getting started when Architecture for Humanity (AfH) Headquarters closed.  Julia Siple, the project lead, faced two options: halt the project or navigate the uncharted waters of a volunteer organization in turmoil. She chose the latter and dedicated herself to the commitment AfH had made to design a community center.


Julia and two volunteers flew to Lefiso in April to hold a workshop with the Community Steering Committee. The team of AfH DC volunteers are currently putting this participatory process into action by translating the workshop results into a collective vision for the design of the Lefiso Community Center. The community, client, and volunteers are so grateful Julia stuck it out! Thanks Julia!!



Project Spotlight! Save Altgeld Coalition Partnership - Chicago 

By: Tom Veed


It is always easier to tear something down than to build it back up. After all, building anything requires time, energy, resources, and collaboration. Unfortunately, in the fall of 2012, the  Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) decided to do just that - demolish 648 housing units in the heart of the Altgeld Gardens Philip Murray Homes neighborhood. This wholesale demolition would mean a 30% loss of residential units, reducing the already scarce availability of homes and services for low income families and residents. Not good.


In order to save this community two things had to happen: First, a coalition of neighbors, local representatives, non-profits, and professionals needed to challenge the CHA and propose an alternative to demolition. They did, and they won. Second, the coalition needed to partner with someone to rebuild. Enter AFH Chicago.

At AFH Chicago, we believe that socially responsive architecture begins and ends with the voice of the community. Only through careful listening, investigation, and collaboration can we as architects and designers begin to understand the critical issues, operative elements, and functional requirements of spaces we work to build.

As a process, this begins with outreach to the communities we are working with. In Altgeld it began with a barbeque.

Over the course of our first evening with the community we enjoyed good food and great conversation. By asking the question “Altgeld-Murray is…” to residents we began to understand the community’s dynamic. Our next steps would be to deepen that understanding by engaging the residents in workshops, picnics, and listening sessions, and we were able to reach hundreds of community members from various demographics.

What we heard were the voices of architects in their own right - people who knew the spaces and places important to them. So we put pens, pencils and markers in the hands of residents. Our volunteer professionals and students acted only as facilitators and note takers. It was in this capacity that we truly became collaborators. This is community empowerment. This is community-led development. This is social impact design.  

AFH Chicago has been working with Altgeld on the redevelopment of their neighborhood for a couple years now. The community envisions and hopes for a brighter future. They imagine a place where they have healthy food choices, jobs in the community, and resources enough to be a develop a self-sustaining community, tied to Chicago but uniquely Altgeld. They imagine a healthy neighborhood for future generations. Together we are building that. Now that construction is underway, the coalition has turned its attention to developing a regional plan that will create permanent jobs in sustainability and manufacturing in Chicago’s South Side.

Meet our Transition Coordinator

(May 30) People are power. The volunteers and leaders who compose this network are the reason we strive and the community partners are why we persevere. Today we enthusiastically introduce the newest member of our team and highlight an exceptional volunteer who has grown with the organization for the past five years. 


Meet Alicia, the Chapter Network Transition Coordinator

Alicia Breck is a strategist who works with government and not-for-profit organizations involved in city resilience and socio-economic development.

A Swiss Army Knife of skills, Alicia helps strengthen organizations through policy and program [re]design. She knows the importance of a well-designed building, a well-informed community, and a well-made cup of coffee. Her work has taken her from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver to the rural villages of Northern India and back again. 

“I am very excited to be working with the Chapter Network during this transition. The organization has such potential to impact the way we think about, design, and use the built environment. There is so much passion in the Chapter members to design a better world – being part of this group is an honor.”
Volunteer Spotlight! Cameo Musgrave - London

Our network celebrates volunteers as the heartbeat of our work. This month, the AFH London Trustees nominate Cameo Musgrave as our exceptional volunteer:

Joining the AFH network in 2010, Cameo leads us in inspiration. A talented designer, maker and builder, she has led projects at Clerkenwell Design Week, Womad, and The Remakery through creative placemaking and building, and establishing our Core Team at our London studio in Makerversity. Cameo has also been an integral fundraiser, has walked Hadrian’s Wall, and run the London Marathon.

What makes Cameo exceptional for us all? Simply, she has a brilliant ability to make things happen and bring people together.


From the Steering Committee:

We're hitting pen to paper as our four subcommittees prioritize tasks for establishing an autonomous Chapter Network. We got a fantastic response to our call for volunteers (thanks to everyone for stepping up!). It's not too late to throw your hat in to support a subcommittee. Tell us where you'd like to plug in and add critical input to the development of the Network: 

Thanks again Cameo, global volunteers, and welcome again Alicia!

Response to Nepal's devastating earthquake

(May 6, 2015) Our heart goes out to the people of Nepal. The UN estimates that eight million in 39 districts of Nepal have been affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake - more than a quarter of the population. Thousands have lost their lives and many more have been injured. Buildings have been reduced to rubble leaving a large per cent of the population homeless. Lack of shelter, proper sanittion and contaminated water now pose a serious risk of disease.

The immediate needs to provide food, medicine and shelter are being provided by the disaster relief agencies. We must support these agencies in providing necessary help to people.

The AfH Chapter Network is liaising with agencies in Nepal, trying to identify local needs through partners on the ground. We are exploring what we can do in the short term and in time to come, when the immediate crisis has been contained,where we can focus our design expertise in helping the country to rebuild.

Follow our news here at afhnetwork.org where we will be posting updates.

Notes from the Chapter Leadership Roundtable

On Sunday, April 26, thirty AFH Chapter leaders from two dozen chapters on three continents met on video chat to acquaint themselves with the recent developments of the Chapter Network steering committee.


Over the course of two hours: acting chairperson Garrett Jacobs (based in Oakland) recapped four months of rapid development in 20 slides; the steering committed presented their respective subcommittees (Governance, Internal Communications, External Communications, and Development), including a call for broader participation from chapter members; the floor was yielded to questions; and all participants discussed a Network-wide involvement initiative.


Full roundtable notes can be found here. Highlights included digested findings from the SFI working session (including draft mission statements), and general enthusiasm for a coordinated Day of Action or other event involving paired Sister Chapters.

Growing the Conversation

The Steering Committee was delighted to meet in person at the SFI conference in Detroit, April 10-12
The Steering Committee was delighted to meet in person at the SFI conference in Detroit, April 10-12

(April 23, 2015) It’s been non-stop action this past month as the Chapter Network steering committee has reviewed applicants to coordinate our transition, traveled to Detroit to interface with a broad and supportive Public Interest Design network, and convened (in person!) to hammer out a committee framework for the next six months, and beyond.


Please read on for a recap of recent happenings, and learn details of the committees moving forward, opportunities to join us, and avenues to carry on chapter activity through this transition.

Chapter Network session presentation (Slideshare)
Chapter Network session presentation (Slideshare)

Structures for Inclusion Panel
Many of us are still winding down from the 15th annual Structures For Inclusion conference. Check out our session presentation discussing our aims and including projects from Detroit, New Orleans, Chicago, London, San Francisco, and Portland, OR. We’re extremely grateful for the orchestration of this wonderful opportunity to present Chapter work!

Strategy Session Action Items

Sunday, April 12, in conjunction with SFI, the Chapter Network Steering Committee gathered for the first time in person to spend the day defining the structure through which the Network will move forward. It was a day of exciting discussion, which left moderator Joel Mills, AIA, inspired:


“I was really impressed with both the level of alignment in your values, and the shared purpose that you all worked with throughout the day. I left the day really optimistic about your future - and inspired to carry some of that commitment back into my own work."


A full report is coming shortly, but we wanted to share now the committees we launched to address Network needs. We will be seeking support for these committees, so please reach out if you’d like to participate in the following areas:

    •    Governance - Legal entity; business models; interim process for chapters; decision making governance flow chart
    •    External communications - Web presence; brand development; graphics; media relations
    •    Internal communications - Coordination between chapters; project and impact tracking; chapter establishment and management procedures
    •    Development - Fundraising and partnerships; interim fiscal sponsorship; developing sustained funding sources


Transition Coordinator Position: Interviewing

We are very close to onboarding the Chapter Network’s first paid position! From an impressive pool of strong applications, the steering committee has made its shortlist for interviews, taking place this week. Thank you to all who expressed interest or shared the opportunity - we’re honored to have such a reception to this temporary but important role!


Open Leadership Roundtable

This coming Sunday, April 26, we are bringing together all active chapter leaders for a call to share in depth our progress and discuss how the Network and Chapters can help one another over the next few months. Leaders, please join us - reach out if you would like the roundtable details.


Going Forth in the Interim

We encourage all members to remain active by pursuing any of the following: cleanups; charrettes; raising project funding for partner organizations; renderings and design; develop existing relationships; document impact of existing projects; close out prior projects. If there’s a way the Steering Committee or fellow chapters can help your group, again don’t hesitate to reach out.


Like I said, a full month! I wonder what this next month will bring??

Release: Chapter Network to present at Structures For Inclusion conference



Architecture for Humanity alliance of local chapters to present independent organization at the 15th annual “Structures for Inclusion” conference in Detroit, Michigan, April 11 - 12


(OAKLAND, CA) - Architecture for Humanity’s local chapter network is alive and well following the closure of the San Francisco Headquarters in January. Thirty chapters in the US and overseas have renewed their commitment to pro bono design support for communities in need. The AFH Chapter Network will be hosting a session at the forthcoming ‘Structures for Inclusion’ conference in Detroit (April 11-12). Called “Public Interest Design and Volunteering,” the session will be an opportunity for chapter representatives to present “activities and projects from their local communities, with respect  to public interest design practice and resilience.”

Acting chair of the Chapter Network, Garrett Jacobs said: “This is a great opportunity for the passionate leaders of the Chapter Network to gather in one place, celebrate ongoing and signature Chapter projects, and discuss the next steps to becoming an autonomous entity.”

The Saturday panel will showcase chapter projects, practices, leadership, and successes that cover the breadth of possibilities available to pro bono professional designers.

“We’re happy to have the Chapter Network joining the SFI Conference this year, and are pleased to see leaders from over 15 chapters already signed up to attend,” said Bryan Bell, founder and executive director of conference host Design Corps. “I am confident these AFH chapters will carry forward the important work of providing locally-focused design services for the underserved.”

Design Corps invited the Chapter Network to lead a Structures for Inclusion session and utilize the Detroit gathering as a strategic retreat. The conference also offers a reduced registration fee for AFH Chapter members.

Meanwhile, the Network has already made progress toward independent operation. Recent funding has allowed the hiring of a Transition Coordinator to assess resources and develop recommendations for the volunteer group to become a self-sustaining entity. The position, posted on Idealist, is to start in April, 2015. The deadline to apply is March 31.




About the AFH Chapter Network
The Chapter Network of the now defunct nonprofit Architecture For Humanity is an international collective of locally-focused pro bono architects and designers, currently numbered at 57 chapters and 13,000 registered participants. As of January, 2015, the Chapter Network has committed to becoming an autonomous, self-sustaining organization to carry on the mission of delivering design services for communities in need around the world.

About Design Corps
Design Corps creates positive change in traditionally underserved communities by using design, advocacy, and education to help them shape their environment and address their social, economic, and environmental challenges. http://designcorps.org/

About Structures For Inclusion 15
The fifteenth Structures for Inclusion (SFI) Conference will be held April 11 and 12, 2015, in Detroit, Michigan, and will be hosted by Lawrence Technological University (LTU). The annual conference will feature the best public interest design from around the globe, including the 2015 SEED Award winners. For fifteen years, the purpose of the SFI conference has been to bring together and share the best ideas and practices that are reaching those currently un-served by architecture. Bringing this conference to Detroit in April 2015 is quite fitting given Detroit’s position at a historic crossroad. “Resilience of Mind, Body and Spirit” will be the theme of SFI 15. Projects from Detroit and other resilient cities in search of a new kind of post-industrial world order. http://designcorps.org/sfi

First Hire: Transition Coordinator job description posted

(March 19, 2015) Thank you for following along in the development of the Chapter Network! Real quick update today, details follow -

  1. The Network's first paid position for the Transition Coordinator is live!
  2. We invite you to join the growing contingent of chapter members at Structures for Inclusion next month.

Thanks to a wonderful gift from the Curry Stone Foundation the Chapter Network is hiring its first coordinator. By defining our values, stakeholders, and the outcomes we wish to see, we build a platform you can be proud of. We're grateful to have the support in creating a paid position for this pursuit.

Contribute to the conversation of what we will become at the 15th Structures for Inclusion Conference in Detroit April 11 - 12. Our steering committee has reserved flights and booked rooms, and are chattering excitedly about this opportunity to gather. We anticipate a strong turnout of chapter members and supporters, and hope more are able to sign up, join the conversation, and meet some old and new friends.

That's all from us for now - it's gearing up to be an exciting Spring!

Striding Forward

The AFH family, November 2013
The AFH family, November 2013

(March 11, 2015) Welcome to the new platform for news, announcements and opportunities for the Chapter Network! We’re honored to have you - as a subscriber, a new or legacy chapter member or volunteer - and hope you stay in touch throughout and beyond our transition into an autonomous network.

The highest levels of Network leadership are buzzing with activity not hthree months after Architecture for Humanity headquarters closed shop. Read on for how we’ve been organizing, fundraising, gathering, even hiring - and challenging ourselves like never before!
Steering Committee & Seed Funding
So far in 2015 over 30 chapters have committed to continue their operations as part of the Network. We have formed a transitional Steering Committee composed of representatives from each of our active global regions, and have secured funding for a coordinator to assist the leadership through this phase, as honored partners with the Curry Stone Foundation.

Holding to our ideals of inclusivity, our steering committee comes to decisions by consensus and is run by the very members who organize local chapters. We remain committed to advancing the delivery and evaluation of humanitarian design, and providing an open forum to discuss, practice, and support design where it’s most needed.

We invite you to join us in this journey - here are a few ways to dig in:
Seeking: Transition Coordinator
We are thrilled to announce that we are hiring! The Chapter Network currently needs the expertise of a dedicated and passionate Transition Coordinator to engage stakeholders and develop procedures to transform us into an autonomous organization. Sound like your jam? Stay tuned - position details go live this week.

Event: Structures for Inclusion
Join a critical mass of chapter members and leaders at the 15th Structures for Inclusion conference on April 11-12, 2015, in Detroit! SFI brings together and shares the best ideas and practices that are reaching those currently unserved by architecture - including a session this year on Chapter projects!

Conference hosts Design Corps are graciously offering a discounted AFH Chapter volunteer ticket! Early bird prices end March 12 so register today and add your voice to the Public Interest Design conversation!

Supporting: The Curry Stone Foundation
We're honored and extremely grateful to receive support from the Curry Stone Foundation to help our Steering Committee leadership gather and hire a part time transition coordinator. Their contribution enables the Network to build a resilient organization, support thousands of designers, and deliver our skills to communities around the globe.

We look forward to the outcomes of our initial transition project, and to what the future has in store for the Chapter Network - THANK YOU everyone for your continued interest and support!

Steering Committee Formed

(February 23, 2015) The transitional Steering Committee composed of representatives from each of our active global regions - the very members who organize local chapters. Responsible for setting the course for the Chapter Network's autonomy, the committee currently meets weekly to discuss progress and make decisions by consensus. The members were selected from a regional nominating process.


Current Steering Committee members, by region:


Latin America: Ricardo Daza (Bogota); Magdelena Mercado (Guadalajara)

North American Midwest: Matthew Joiner (Denver); Tom Veed (Chicago)

North American East: Rayya Newman (Washington, DC); Rachel Starobinsky (New York)

North American West (rotating): Rachel Baily (Portland); Karl Johnson (San Francisco); Hector Puga (Los Angeles)

North American South (rotating): Chandra Farley (Atlanta); Danielle Key-Odis (Dallas); Kim Raborn (Houston); Michael Vega (New Orleans)

Europe/Africa: Katherine McNeil (London); Taye Olajide (Abuja)

AFH Chapters Rally to Continue Humanitarian Design Work with New, Bold Plans

(Impact Design Hub, February 19, 2015) By now the news has sunk in that Architecture for Humanity’s headquarters has closed shop. However, despite this era’s end, there are still hundreds of volunteers, community leaders and chapter directors who have vowed to continue their work. For the past month we have been quietly and collectively organizing and making contact with many other organizations in the public interest design world. The energy for and support of the chapter network has been positively overwhelming.

While the closing of our headquarters disappoints us, we see this as an opportunity to begin charting the future for our volunteers as well as the movement of humanitarian design. As stated in our collective message, the recent action of the AFH Board of Directors has only caused us to rally in excitement. Our work will not only continue but the Chapter Network is moving forward by taking strategic actions for the future. We will be departing from the decisions and direction of AFH headquarters with a fierce momentum of collaboration and refinement. For the past decade the chapters have been the mission driven heart of Architecture for Humanity, creating hundreds of opportunities for anyone to get involved and exercise their skills in new and undefined ways and build community power through design. We’re poised to begin defining a professional ladder of engagement for socially conscious designers of all types.

First International Congress Takes Place
I have had the honor of serving as organizer for the AFH Chapter Network for the past two and half years—first as an AFH staff member, then as a volunteer like everyone else, and currently as the acting chair of the network. I am proud to report that two weekends ago over 45 chapter leaders gathered from around the world—from places as far as Athens, Chicago, London, Atlanta, Guadalajara, and Los Angeles—to attend our first international congress and form our governing structure as we move forward in this transition.

Within these affirming hours we discussed the necessity of remaining as inspirational as we are professional. We identified our three primary stakeholders: designers, local institutions, and the end users who benefit from their services. We talked about the value we bring to the design profession as a gateway to community engaged design. Our ability to organize large groups for quick delivery with the ability to scale was a key strength identified. We even began to discuss various business models and governing structures, with ideas like 501(c)3’s, benefit corporations, and co-ops.
Future Plans for the Network

While many decisions are yet to be made, one major sentiment we agreed upon was clearly defining whom it is we work for and what it is we offer. AFH HQ had a broad mission and approach; we will be more focused moving forward. This will enable us to form the partnerships relevant to our mission while collaboratively realizing the full potential of this movement. We will continue to combine our skills as community organizers, designers, project managers, advocates, strategists and building policy wonks to collectively work towards the future. This moment also provides time to learn from hundreds of past community driven projects by working to define best practices in operational structures, organizing techniques, project management, effective advocacy approaches and coalition building.

We will set in place a transitional steering committee with representatives from every region in our network. This decision-making entity will help drive the direction of the organization over the next three months. First we will convene a board of advisors to ensure the relevance of our direction, then draft our working principles and address issues such as branding and financial models.
Support the Network

Our built environment remains stratified, access to healthy dignified spaces is not universal, and very few people have the ability to define their own physical environments. With the combined expertise of many like-minded organizations, we can begin to determine paths that lead participants through mentorship opportunities, fellowship programs, and even small business incubators that help others enjoy the visioning of their own worlds.

We remain committed to our local communities, and will continue to push the bar on humanitarian design. Please do stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, join your local group and help define a future you want to see. We believe that design is a right and not a privilege – what about you? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out on Twitter at @afh_chapters or your local chapter via our website AFHNetwork.org.

Chapter Network commits to continue mission

(January 22, 2015) Responding to news of the demise of Architecture for Humanity’s nonprofit hub earlier this month, the volunteer-based Chapter Network - representing thousands of participants in 35 chapters around the world, pledged to continue operation in whatever capacity possible as an independent entity.

A collective statement was posted to a temporary new landing page for the Chapter Network. The statement in its entirety:


Despite the unfortunate news that our parent organization has chosen to discontinue operations and close their San Francisco based office, the Architecture for Humanity Chapter Network is eager to continue our work. 57 chapters consisting of thousands of volunteers around the world provide pro-bono design services, advocacy, and training within our local communities.
AFH Chapters have tapped into the growing enthusiasm of the design profession for a socially conscious practice, offering a space for residents, community leaders, designers and non-profits to convene and build visions of a more inclusive future. We will continue to act as facilitators, fundraisers, teachers, community organizers, designers and listeners for those in need. The commitment of this network of volunteers remains unwavering and we vow to continue supporting our local communities.
We believe design is a right, not a privilege. We organize today gathering our team of over 20,000 global volunteers to adapt to the changing climate of the design profession and to strengthen our commitment to advancing the mission of humanitarian design. True to our grassroots form, we are determined, agile, and resilient. We are ready for the challenges of this new year and are looking towards a brighter future. United we stand, stronger than ever.
- AFH Chapter Network


The next several months will see ongoing commitments and discussions for actuating organizational autonomy.

Statement: From Board of Directors, Architecture for Humanity

After a period of speculation following an initial announcements in SF Gate and the New York Times, the Architecture for Humanity Board of Directors confirmed what had caught so many in the design and nonprofit sectors completely off guard - AFH was shutting down.

The following statement, from Board Chair Matt Charney, was posted to the Architecture For Humanity homepage:

It is with great regret that we announce that Architecture for Humanity, LLC will be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Board expects that the bankruptcy will be filed within the next two weeks. This decision was made after serious consideration and review of all options. All staff was laid off as of January 1, 2015 and the physical office in San Francisco has been closed. As of January 1, 2015, the organization also stopped accepting donations. It is important to distinguish that while Architecture for Humanity as a 501c3 company is filing for bankruptcy, many of the international chapters of Architecture for Humanity, while they share a common name, are separate legal entities and will continue their work without pause. Additionally, the U.S. based chapters of Architecture for Humanity are managed by all volunteer directors, and those directors have vowed to continue the work of the organization, though it may be under a different name. It is a testament to what Architecture for Humanity has meant to the profession that the work will continue.

Architecture for Humanity has had incredible partners and funders that made our work possible over the last 15 years but, like many charity organizations, we have had serious funding challenges. Our leadership worked to overcome the funding gaps to the best of their ability, but the deficit combined with budget overruns and an overall decrease in donations finally became an insurmountable situation.

Even with this sad news, it is important to remember what the thousands of Architecture for Humanity volunteers and staff accomplished and inspired over the last 15 years. In 2006, the TED Prize was given in recognition of this work and spawned the Open Architecture Network, a platform that allowed a community to be born surrounding open source design and connected the world of humanitarian design globally in the digital space like no one had done before. Architecture for Humanity has provided important public interest design services to communities with critical needs across the globe, including post-disaster reconstruction in the United States, Haiti, the Philippines, South Africa, and Japan.  We encourage everyone to take a look at the incredible work that has been done. “Design Like You Give A Damn”, a phrase coined by co-founder Cameron Sinclair, became a motto and transformed into an annual conference and two published books showcasing public interest design. Further, this motto became a part of architecture as a profession. In many ways, Architecture for Humanity helped to begin the humanitarian design movement. We now look to chapter members, volunteers, former staff, and the profession at large to lead the way.

The Board will continue to share any new updates with you via the Architecture for Humanity website.

Matt Charney

Board Chair

Architecture For Humanity

As many of the Chapter Network resources live under the umbrella of Architecture For Humanity, including each chapter's webpage and the project management platform The Open Architecture Network, it is unclear whether these and other relied-upon resources will be available much longer.