The Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI) just announced 19 semi-finalists for the 2016 Fuller Challenge - and each one is creating meaningful change around the globe. The finalists work in areas ranging from human rights to sustainable design, environmental issues and food production. We've rounded up 8 revolutionary initiatives - including the Urban Death Project and PITCHAfrica's Waterbank Schools - that are changing the world for the better.
1. African Design Center trains next wave of African architects
The African Design Center is a program of the MASS Design Group, and offers training for African architects and designers. According to MASS Design Group, the country will need 85,000 clinics, more than 700 million homes, and 310,000 primary schools by 2050. Through a two-year fellowship, they aim to train Africans to meet the demands Africa will face in building and infrastructure needs.
2. Build Change helps communities worldwide prepare homes for natural disasters
From Haiti to the Philippines to Indonesia, Build Change has worked with local communities to build disaster-resistant houses designed to protect against typhoons and earthquakes. The organization empowers locals to get involved in the process; homeowners choose the layout they prefer and help with the building process. Houses are adapted to local needs and built with local materials.
3. Cooperación Comunitaria works with locals to build eco-friendly homes that resist earthquakes and landslides
85 percent of people in the Mexican state of Guerrero live in the La Montaña region, which is prone to landslides and earthquakes. Two hurricanes in 2013 damaged over 5,000 homes. Cooperación Comunitaria draws on local knowledge combined with engineering practices to construct eco-friendly, affordable homes in the region. Self-sufficiency is one of their main goals; they aim to pass on the knowledge so after they leave the region locals can continue to incorporate disaster-resistant practices into their dwellings.
4. PITCHAfrica’s Waterbank Schools double as learning centers and rainwater capture structures
PITCHAfrica designed their Waterbank Schools to not only provide a space of learning for students, but to collect and store rainwater that’s filtered through ceramic filtration. Students, parents, and teachers all help construct the school with locally-sourced materials. The rainwater collection system provides clean water for the community and for a school garden.
5. Urban Death Project reimagines the current toxic funeral industry
Toxic embalming and carbon-spewing cremation practices make for a funeral industry that’s often the opposite of environmentally friendly. Katrina Spade’s Urban Death Project seeks to offer an alternative through a “compost-based renewal system.” Deceased loved ones are placed in a building where they’re decomposed through “aerobic decomposition and microbial activity,” leaving behind compost that can be used to grow beautiful plants.
6. The MIT Open Agriculture Initiative blends technology with indoor farming
MIT is pursuing futuristic farming with the help of the field they’re most known for: technology. Their MIT Open Agriculture Initiative is an “open source ecosystem of food technologies” that could allow people to cultivate local food anywhere. The hardware and software they’re developing could help old and new farmers grow thriving aeroponic or hydroponic plants.
7. Evrnu could be the “most environmentally friendly fiber on the planet”
Last year in the United States, there were 14.3 million tons of “textile waste.” Only 2.3 million tons were recycled. Evrnu set out to transform the clothing and textile industry with a fiber made of recycled cotton. In sharp contrast to the rest of the textile industry is“one of the world’s largest producers of toxic environmental waste”, Evrnu’s process “generates no waste.”
8. KTK-BELT shares indigenous knowledge in a “vertical university” in Nepal
KTK-BELT is working to restore forests in Nepal, conserve the environment, empower through education, and provide jobs. Using the knowledge of indigenous farmers, the group is developing a “vertical university” which will span 100 acres. Research and “field-based sensorial learning opportunities” will engage members of the community from children to the elderly in learning how to conserve the land.