Author: Lourdes Garcia

Maga Collective – Master Plan

 

Manifesto

Puerto Rico has been subjected to colonial rule by the United States since 1898. The US stole any chance of independence Puerto Rico had when it defeated the Spanish and installed a military government on the island. The Foraker Act of 1900 was the beginning of a government in Puerto Rico that would be at the will of US power for over a century. Puerto Rico continued under US rule but with few accommodation or recognition of its people, despite having to be subjected to drafts and the political will of the US government. Independence movements began to rise, but the fear of communism during the time of the Cuban crisis created extreme repression by the US government. Gag laws were initiated in order to prevent political dissonance, where political opposition members were taken into prison and murdered. Puerto Ricans eventually became US citizens not having any real representation in the federal government. The people can only elect governors who must lobby their interests to a government that has continued to fail them. The countries economic conditions have created migration patterns that have left more Puerto Ricans in the US than on the island itself. The recent events of hurricane Maria have showed the minimum investment the US has in the Puerto Rican people. People were devastated as they lost their homes, agricultural production slowed down, and some still do not have electricity to this day. Although Puerto Ricans have voted in favor of statehood, but barely 20% of the population actually voted, the US has continued to ignore the desires of the people.

Statehood sounds like the best option, Puerto Rico must break the cycle of imperialism that have continued to promote assimilation and economic disparities.

An independent Puerto Rico will finally be able to determine their path of political and economic autonomy. Statehood would only continue to assimilate the people where they will continue to face discrimination. Independence will allow Puerto Rico to decide their economic and political policies and will not have to be at the will of the US. Governments must be cleared of these Puerto Rican Spanish elites that have continued to perpetuate disparities against the descendants of the Taino and African people. There will be an importance on reasonable sustainable practices and new trade options opened up to newer markets that do not exploit the nation. Agriculture will represent a range a produce but a continued excess of regional vegetation that can be donated to suffering communities after Maria and exported. Sustainability will be present in energy production as well. Puerto Rico gets large amounts of sunlight and needs to switch to a more sustainable energy source such as solar panels. Energy will be distributed to other peoples on the island that continue to lose power after the hurricane and little efforts by the US. Education must be focused on decolonization. The legacies of US rule lie not only via the institutions that were built by the US but were enforced by the perceptions of the Puerto Rican people needing to be dependent on the US. Attitudes like this only lead to inferiority complexes that continue to legitimize the rule of the US.

Developing practices that demand an autonomous way of life will be the only way to set Puerto Rico free from their colonial history with United States. The people must break the socialized illusions that have been indoctrinated into their thoughts through education that puts importance to the people.

 

Designer Statement

I approached my project with a more realist view of how I understood a utopia. Rather than creating a fictional world of what Puerto Rico could have been, had it been independent, I wanted to create a model to aspire towards independence. My utopia was supposed to provide another way of structuring life in Puerto Rico that would challenge the rooted inequalities that the society faces. The goal was to create the environment where political, economic and social autonomy would develop during a time of hurt for the people. The recent hurricane brought these issues to light, where a people who are supposedly living under democracy have had limited resources and no self determination.. The largest problems I wanted to solve were that of education, agriculture, architecture as they relate to the socio economic and political spheres. I saw the issues of public education lacking funding and being structured to make people infatuated with the US and not question its actions to other nations, similar to the education system in the US. The agriculture of Puerto Rico has been devastated after the hurricane making them dependent for food and aid, which hinders the ability to self support and sustain. Architecture plays a similar role as after the hurricane hit, people were left with no homes and forced to relocated or even migrate to the US. The economic conditions that the US has continued to not fix on the island has caused extreme migration patterns to the US, so much that there are more Puerto Rican people in the US than in Puerto Rico itself. Those who stay in Puerto Rico face harsh economic and political challenges that go unaddressed. The island has accumulated over 70 billion dollars in debt which only continues to perpetuate the structural dependency of Puerto Rico to the US. I wanted to challenge these narratives on what people think Puerto Rico should and shouldn’t do, showing alternatives to statehood, which would only continue these dynamics of inequality, and make people think about independence differently. By people I mean those who have been most affected by the conditions of territoriality rule. I focused on some of the most disenfranchised areas and peoples that have been forgotten by the US government and efforts by local governments have not been enough. My utopia was trying to give a support network for people who have been lacking in power, food and shelter since the hurricane. I wanted it to be an initiative made by the people who support independence. These people would help the restructuring of society but contribute resources to those in need. I decided to collage images to give a more abstract understanding of what the community would look like and produce. The important aspects of the community are those who live and work to provide na autonomous region in Puerto Rico that would eventually present itself as a model for the rest of the nation.

 

Ponce

 

Ponce is a smaller city in Puerto Rico on the south western coast and surrounded by agricultural land. The utopia will be located on the outside of the city for sustainable practices but retain close ties to the city that has been important in both independence and labour movements. The area will be founded by those members of the independence movement today who wish to promote self determination to anyone who desires political and socio economic freedom. They will be located near in between the ocean and mountains left of the city. Admission will only require that individuals help work towards sustaining the community.  All will be able to pursue any form of education and career and all will participate in political discussion and decision making. Those who study agricultural technology will help with tending the land for the community. All jobs will focusing on bettering the community and creating an independent economic system. The community will help those in need in the Ponce municipality who have struggled economically. They will take extra resources and open their education for those who are not from the community but are struggling. The utopia will begin to create their own system of government and economy to reform society that is not dependent on US or foreign powers. The people will always be working for the community and everything produced will be shared among everyone. Accommodations will be made for those who cannot work. The community will focus on advancing sustainable research to produce more for people who cannot participate within the community but deserve the resources.

Timeline:

1898: US invades Puerto Rico and takes island from Spain.

1937: Ponce Massacre killed 19 and wounded over 200.

1965: Pedro Albizu Campos, leader of the Nationalist Party, dies from poor treatment in prison. Campos was a figure who pushed for labour rights and independence.

2017: Referendum shows 97% in favor of statehood, but only a 23% turnout and no prospects for future incorporation of statehood.

September 2017: Hurricane Maria devastates Puerto Rico. Many homes are destroyed and communities are left without power.

Maga Collective

 

Problem: The people of Puerto Rico have been governed by the US under territorial status which has caused political and economic hardship. The island’s people cannot represent themselves politically and have suffered through economic reform implemented by the US and poorly managed by Puerto Rican elites. Many are subject to poverty and lack educational resources and infrastructure. Puerto Rico has never experienced statehood as the Spanish colony transitioned into a US imperial enterprise without any independence movements. Puerto Rican society has been dictated by the US through the ideological principles of development that make dependency a reality. The people have internalized this dependency on the US which has only further oppressed them. Puerto Rico has been subject to racial discrimination, anti-independence repression, and even nuclear testing by the US which was reinforced by the island’s elite. The legacy of colonial rule continues to racially discriminate, leaving those of African and Taino descent are denied the right of self-determination. The mass migration from Puerto Rico is a direct result of US policy that continually neglects and devastates the region.My utopia will harbor a society of agency within Puerto Rican communities that have been forgotten.

The Community: My utopia will promote a community oriented society that focuses on political freedom, education, self sustainability, and eco friendly practices. The community will foster a diversity of different beliefs that will be held equally important within the society. The people will share in the same desire of self determination for themselves as Puerto Rican, dedicating their lives to the betterment of the community. The community will self govern through referendum and a small representative government. Puerto Rico currently faces large economic disparities stemming from foreign influence and internal neglect. In this new society, land and wealth will be collectively owned by everyone in the community and all will have equal access to resources. The arrangement and architectural design will promote spaces for political forums and encourage communication to ensure that everyone is equally represented. There will be no political figurehead but rather, individuals who dedicate part of their time to help manage governmental affairs. Much of the islands education is underfunded and poorly instituted which results in many people who do not complete primary or secondary education. For many Puerto Ricans, education is an economic tool rather than an opportunity to obtain knowledge. The newly constructed utopia will give people access to any educational resources they desire. Academic learning will revolve around the needs of the student and their unique learning style. Education will not be dominated by western thought but will be centered around the newly formed people’s curriculum. The education will defy the limitations of disciplines by allowing students to pursue interdisciplinary study. Education will not exclusively be theoretical. The pursuit of specific occupations will incorporate the labour of the mind and body. Employment will be linked to the education system because knowledge is obtained through manual and theoretical work. Puerto Rico was pushed through its industrialization period which required most of the island’s food to be imported from outside of the country. The new community will practice self-sustainability by creating small agricultural practices. They will use the land to develop a mechanism that allows for people to feed themselves. This is to eliminate a reliance on other countries that continues to hurt Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s natural environment benefits from constant exposure to the sun and water. The community will use solar energy in order to reduce its carbon footprint and maintain the integrity of their environment. Material goods will be made exclusively of renewable and recyclable resources and will move away from plastics and excessive amounts of paper. The respect for the environment is just as important as the community members. The community will invest time in the environment specifically to learn from and relate to the natural landscape. The society will adequately represent the people in Puerto Rico who have been disenfranchised and economically disadvantaged. It will exclude those consistently involved in elitist practices that hurt poorer communities on the island. Governmental restrictions will only be placed on those who live privileged lifestyles at the expense of others.

Daily Life: The people will be allowed to openly express political concerns to their peers. Every person will be able to obtain an education regardless of age. Necessary resources will be available to all students with professors to aid in their learning. People will be allowed to decide where they allocate their labor based off of personal interest and the needs of the community. Those who have an interest in environmental science, for example, will not only study the environment but will also help cultivate and produce clean energy. People will be able to move between their homes and the wildlife surrounding their community freely. The utopia will be an open space where everyone is valued and respected.

Nature Dome

Concept:

My utopian home tries to reintroduce nature to those who live in a large city. Although cities provide economic opportunities, they alienate the public from natural spaces. My home will house individuals who live and help maintain the land for the public. It will contain the lost vegetation of the environment before industrialization and deforestation. The goal is to bring back a portion of the old natural environment, which has been lost within the modern city. There will be no payment or membership to utilize the space, similar to a public park. The space will create a community of people who will tend to the land. The home is not meant to be private and exclusive, but a place that can incorporate the necessities of living and contribution to the public. Those who decide to live here will have a backyard of the native landscape with the possibilities of the city. Members would begin with the plain plot of land and reforest the area until it returned to a similar ecosystem of the past. The home would become a project for the city that would take time to achieve full growth and space maximization. The community is centered around a natural responsibility by creating a public space that revives destroyed land.

Exterior, Image by Lourdes Garcia

Floor Plan, Image by Lourdes Garcia

City Map, Image by Lourdes Garcia

Rationale of Form/Structure:

The homes circle the park in order for residents to have access to the city and the ability to maintain the land. Houses are supposed to be small and avoid luxury. The land will have 16 seperate homes surrounding the land with individual houses that hold two people maximum providing basic living utilities. The family is not those who necessarily live within the same walls but those who share the interest in the cultivation of the land. The process of reforestation and a dedication to a public space will connect these people into a new idea of the family. The structure is in the shape of a dome, so that residents will be surrounded by nature. These homes will be placed within the terrain, surrounding the transparent houses. The dome will be made of glass with an interior curtain for desired privacy, with a skylight on top. Solar panels will bring power to houses to promote eco friendly practices. The natural space becomes the home within a larger city in order to bring individuals back in touch with nature but understand the economic benefits of a city. Ultimately the homes becomes the basic need for living surrounded by a natural environment that is shared by the public.  

Questionnaire:

Why is nature important to you?

 

 

What do you find valuable in a public space?

 

 

Could you dedicate a small amount of time per week in order to help cultivate and maintain the land?

 

 

Would you be willing to learn about your ecosystem?

 

The Dynamic Hexagon

A table formation which facilitates discussion between students in an attempt for comments to be directed towards the group rather than the professors, who are on the same plane as the students and are integrated opposite each other in the classroom formation. This classroom format is intended to give students access to engagement, while the corners of the hexagon allow those who wish to participate silently to do so in a manner where attention is deflected off of them. Professors are meant to sit across from each other at different ends of the hexagon for equal engagement for all students. The open hexagon promotes flexibility as both students and professors can move throughout the center easily. We wanted all students to be able to face one another for better communication of ideas throughout the classroom