from the Board for the year 2012
This is the sixth Annual Report since ASF–International was formally constituted in 2007. During 2012 ASF-Int has continued to recruit new members and extended its activities in other ways. Thanks to the generosity of ASF-España a permanent Secretariat has been established in Barcelona. It has worked out procedures for responding to the many requests coming to ASF-Int and carries out a number of tasks which could not be implemented earlier. The important project Development Architecture Education has been launched successfully and is proceeding to its second phase. During the year a newsletter has started to be published. The financial situation continues to be a weak point.
GA Meeting in Copenhagen April 2012
In April 2012 the GA Meeting was held in Copenhagen, hosted by ASF-Denmark. Not less than 18 member organisations were represented by 68 participants from 16 countries. Thanks to support from some member organisations travel costs could be arranged for members with scarce resources (total support: €2 600). The meeting adopted an Activity Plan in which the proposals from seven working groups were integrated by the Board after the meeting. The plan gave priority to activities structured according to the following themes:
1. Promoting the social production of human settlements through projects with a development perspective, the stimulation of professional ethics, and by establishing an international educational program about development architecture and planning.
2. Promoting project partnerships by collecting information about our member organisations to facilitate coordination and project partnerships.
3. Improve our communication by establishing a free flowing dialogue between members and the Board as well as between members.
4. Increase membership, especially in low and middle income countries and Eastern Europe.
5. Financial Autonomy in order to get resources for the secretariat in its work on the issues described above.
At the proposal of ex-chair Jordi Balari the GA meeting decided to work out principles of a membership fee proportional to the budget/turnover of each member organisation, to be implemented from 2013.
Board composition and meetings
The Board has consisted of the following ten members:
Stéphane Plisson (ASF-France)
Chair, fund-raising, activity plan To 2013
Valeria Sciarretta (ASF- Onlus-Italia)
Vice-Chair, Project coordination, fund-raising To 2014
Pawan Shrestha (EWB-Nepal)
Vice-Chair, To 2013
Rune Asholt (ASF-DK)
Treasurer, payment list, travel support applications To 2014
Dick Urban Vestbro (ARC●PEACE)
Secretary, membership list, recruiting new members, documentation to 2014
Anna Engvall (ASF-Sweden)
Vice-Secretary, interest list, newsletter To 2013
Naomi Shinkins (ASF-UK)
PP presentation, portfolio, website (beginning of year) To 2014
Richard Losalajome (ASF-RDCongo)
French translation, fund-raising To 2013
Guruprasad Rane (ASF Society, India)
Website, fund-raising To 2014
Xavier Codina (ASF-España)
Secretariat, newsletter To 2013
During 2012 the Board had the following six meetings: 4 February in Freiburg/Germany, 12 March by email, 14-15 April in Copenhagen, 18 June by email, 13 September by email, 10 November in London. The meeting in Freiburg was combined with guided tours in the city and informal meetings with AÜG Germany. The meeting in London was combined with a guided tour to the Olympic city in Stratford and a dinner with representatives of ASF-UK. The Board considers it important to meet individual members of the member organisations, especially those that are not represented in the Board. In this way ties between members are strengthened. Between meetings the Board has communicated intensively by email and sometimes taken decisions by email. Travel costs in connection with physical Board meetings have been covered by each person’s member organization.
At the beginning of the year ASF-Int had 22 registered members. During 2012 Africa 70 (Italy) ceased to exist while Habitat Technology Group (India) has been put as pending due to lack of payment of fees. During the year ASF Tunisie, Association pour les Victimes de la Répression en Afrique (AVRA)/Congo-Kinshasa, ASF India Society and Fundacion ASF Colombia have been granted membership. This means that ASF-Int had 24 members at the end of 2012. ASF Macau and Ukumbi/Finland were granted membership in January and Remal, Egypt in March 2013. The following organisations have stated that they intend to apply for membership: a group in Chad, Built Environment Collective (Megawra)/Egypt and Function Architecture & design/Dubai. It is expected that these organisations will be granted membership during 2013. This would mean that we will reach the aim to have 30 members one year earlier than stipulated (2014). Development Workshop/France first indicated that it wanted to be a member, but then proposed collaboration without being a member. Among the many individuals sending messages to ASF-Int through the website some have been encouraged to form ASF organisations in their own country. This is the case with persons in Congo-Brazzaville, Jordan, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Poland and Venezuela. In Belgium the possibility to form a second ASF organisation has been explored. Attempts have been made to recruit AWB Canada as a member, so far without success. Both members and prospective members get regular information through email. They have also been invited to the GA meeting in 2013.
During the year the Board has received many questions about internship, jobs, membership and other signs of interest from individuals visiting our website. The Secretariat and Secretary Vestbro have sent out standardized replies to these emails. Job seekers have been referred to member organisations. Those who want to become members have either been referred to the ASF member in their own country or asked to start an organisation themselves. All those seeking contact have been listed in an “interest list”, which comprises more than 250 names in 54 countries. The people on the interest list have been registered as subscribers to the newsletter. The list can be used for future recruitment of members. The many requests show that there is an increasing interest in ASF.
Thanks to the generosity of ASF España our network now has a functioning Secretariat. It consists of 5-6 volunteers who each work between 5 and 10 hours a week. ASF Espaňa has set aside one room of its Barcelona office for the ASF-Int Secretariat. The Board has decided to pay €1440 for the office space during 2012 and to allocate funds for travel costs of Secretariat members going to Board meetings. The Secretariat is sending out information regularly, keeps an updated membership list and carries out a number of other duties. Based on 400 documents saved by Secretary Vestbro the Secretariat has created an online space with all ASF-Int work documents, calendar/bulletin board etc available at http://www.secretariat.asfint.org. A proposal is on its way on how to make this archive available to all members.
Information Bank, coordination of projects
At the initiative of Valeria Sciarretta the Board already in 2011 asked members to fill in forms about themselves to be incorporated into an Information Bank. The idea is to get an overview of the skills and resources of members, about legal forms and structure of each member organisation, types of collaboration with other NGOs and contacts with academic and other institutions, experience of project administration and interest in common projects with other members. The Info Bank was considered to facilitate the coordination of projects between member organisations and initiate joint applications to European Union programmes and other sources. It turned out to be difficult for members to understand the purpose of the Information Bank. Therefore clarifications had to be sent out repeatedly during 2012. At the end of the year 16 of ASF-Int’s 24 members had filled in the form, while information from eight members is still missing. Thanks to the collection of information the Board starts to get a grip about the needs and desires of the members. One positive result of the enquiry is that we can see which members work in the same country. The Board considers it important that members working in the same region and with similar issues learn from each other and coordinate their projects. It is hoped that the Info Bank will grow and become an important source of information to all members. During 2012 projects in Haiti run by four ASF members started to be coordinated. Representatives of ASF-España, ASF-France and ASF-Sweden had a Skype meeting in October about the Haiti experiences, which is expected to improve the efforts to address problems of post-disaster remediation in this country. With reference to the fact that several ASF-Int members work with bamboo as a cheap and sustainable building material ASF-Sweden has suggested that a conference be arranged about this topic. The Board has decided to recommend bamboo presentations at the planned seminar in Porto in April 2013.
Economic situation, fund-raising
The most problematic issue for the Board has been to find sponsors and raise funds to cover items such as travel costs and accommodation for participants in the General Assembly and Board meetings, and for the maintenance of the website and to produce publications. Guruprasad Rane, who coordinates the fund-raising committee, has submitted an application for core funding to Ford Foundation, which was not approved. Stéphane Plisson has started to contact some French companies which may become sponsors. Possible companies are: Schneider Electric, SOITEC (a micro-electronic & solar industry), GSE (a builder) and NEXITY (a real estate developer). Jordi Balari of AST España has accepted to use his contacts for fund-raising, while Anna Engvall-Synderå has offered to contact some companies in Sweden for the same purpose. As a basis for fund-raising the draft sponsor policy from 2007 has been revised and displayed at the website. The policy specifies what sponsoring companies have to fulfil and what they will get from ASF-Int. A Paypal facility is available on the website, but has not yet become a successful instrument for acquiring donations. In the absence of external funding ASF-Int continues to rely economically on membership fees, which means that resources for activities are very limited. The costs consist mainly of payment for updating the website and of support for travel costs in connection with the GA meetings. The Secretariat has been asked to make a rough estimate about all real costs for travel and accommodation of all Board members during 2012 in order to show potential funders how much will be needed in the future if/when ASF-Int shall cover all costs of the Board and Secretariat.
The website is an important instrument to promote the aims of ASF-Int. It many visits have resulted in contacts with many persons expressing an interest in our network. In collaboration with Edouard Molard of ASF-France Board members Guruprasad Rane and Naomi Shinkins have been responsible for keeping the website up to date and for uploading documents. The Board has decided to translate and upload key documents in French and Spanish, but so far this has only partly been implemented. Experiencing some weaknesses of the website design the Board asked Rune Asholt to work out a proposal for improvement. The proposal includes the following: to provide more news and easier way to locate information, to use the map better to find projects, to facilitate seeing how projects can be coordinated, to include more pictures and more non-blue colours altogether, to make the PayPal function more visible, to advertise the newsletter better, to start a forum for advertising expertise from around the world, to set up a blog forum, to display information about member organisations (from the Info Bank) and to share documents through Google. The improvements are scheduled to be implemented step-wise during 2013. At the initiative of the Secretariat the Board has decided to start an ASF-Int page on Facebook see: http://www.facebook.com/Architectur....
One positive results of the establishment of the Secretariat is the regular publication of the newsletter, which was started at the GA meeting in April and has resulted in the publication of three issues during 2012. The responsibility to edit the newsletter rotates between Board members, assisted by the Secretariat, which also edits and makes the layout. The Secretariat has retrieved the existing list of subscribers (more than 300) and sent the newsletter to several hundreds of people, including the Leonardo group, and all those who have shown an interest in ASF. It remains to see how individual members of member organisations can get the newsletter.
Development Architecture Education
One of the most positive achievements during the year is the launching of the course “Challenging Practices - Essentials for social production of habitat” (to be downloaded from the website at http://www.asfint.org/Challenging-P...) It consists of 11 modules (a total of 73 pages), summarizing the first theoretical part of a package of further theoretical and practical modules. Each module has links to texts, videos and online lectures for the particular theme, available as open sources. The idea is that the course, which is now given in English, shall later be given also in Spanish and French. The intention is that the course shall acquire international status and qualify for work in connection with international charity organizations, probably based on the payment of fees. The course has been worked out within the project Development Architecture Education, carried out with funding from the European Community’s Lifelong Learning Programme/Leonardo Agency, with ASF-España as the coordinator and ASF members in France, UK Italy and Sweden as other partners. The Secretariat is coordinating the Leonardo work-group and assists in registrations of course members, issuing certificates, answering questions from participants and other issues.
PowerPoint presentation and Portfolio
During 2012 the Board had the pleasure to send out a PowerPoint presentation of ASF-Int to all members. The idea is to use it to explain the background and activities of ASF-Int. The PP has been made by Naomi Shinkins and Dick UrbanVestbro in consultation with Stéphane Plisson. It is available at the website. During the year Naomi Shinkins took over the task to produce a new project portfolio from Beatrice de Carli. It turned out to be difficult to make members report about new projects and to specify which of the old ones that should be kept. Since only six member organisations reported 19 new projects it was decided to include only these projects in the new portfolio while keeping the 52 projects from 2010 as a documentation of earlier activities of ASF members. The aim is not only to show the variety of ASF-Int competence, but also to use the portfolio as a basis for fund-raising.
ASF-Int at the World Urban Forum in Naples
Another prominent achievement during the year was the ASF-Int participation in the World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy, 1-7 September. The event, organised by UN Habitat, gathered more than 8 000 delegates from 150 countries, and involved virtually all major players from the urban development field. ASF-Int was present with 15 persons from France, Greece, Italy, Peru, Spain, Sweden and UK. ASF Sweden effectively coordinated common actions and the arrangement of an exhibition stand, including an open space where print material from both ASF-International and individual member organisations was displayed and distributed. Despite hard competition from other organisations ASF-Int managed to call attention to its booth by arranging lively discussions, dancing, poster exhibitions etc. ASF-UK ran a successful training session on participatory design. In reaction to the uncritical position of the official conference several ASF affiliates also participated in the parallel conference organised in downtown Naples under the banner of the Social Urban Forum. Exchanges took place with a number of CBOs, NGOs, and international agencies, opening avenues for future collaboration and partnerships. Read further at: http://asfint.org/IMG/pdf/ASF-Int_N.... In order to fund the ASF-Int participation a special voucher was worked out by ARC●PEACE and displayed at the websites of ASF-Int and ARC●PEACE. All member organisations were asked to contribute to the costs (mainly the cost of the hired booth). The result was that the total costs of €1630 could be shared fairly equally between ten members.
Contacts with other organizations
As a result of the participation in the WUF meeting the Board started to discuss possible collaboration with the Huairou Commission, Homeless International (UK), Global Land Tool Network, Safer Cities, Asian Committee for Housing Rights. Various Board members have been asked to contact these networks and get back with concrete proposals. During the year the Board has also discussed collaboration with Union Internationale des Architectes (UIA), Habitat International Coalition (HIC), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Patrimoine Sans Frontières and Cultural Heritage without Borders in Sweden (website: http://www.chwb.org/index.php?lang=1, working almost entirely with aid to Western Balkan). Luz Maria Sanchez of ARC●PEACE has proposed that ASF-Int should apply for the status of an NGO in consultative capacity within ECOSOC of the UN. These tasks remain to be followed-up during 2013.
During the year ARC●PEACE member Oscar Margenet Nadal invited ASF-Int to be one of the partners of the conference “Our common action”, to take place in Mallorca in September. The Board responded favourably to the proposal, but later the conference was cancelled. In connection with the GA meeting in Copenhagen Eric Selis of ASF-Belgium proposed that ASF-Int should explore the possibility to start a travel agency in order to raise money and promote the cause of ASF-Int. The Board has decided that the Secretariat shall keep in touch with the Joker travel agency of Eric Selis and follow the development of the "Barcelona routes", a local project to explore the city in a conscious way. The idea is to create a website dedicated to the project, showing how it can be shared with the ASF Int network (linking it to website of ASF-Int).
In conclusion, the Board finds that it has fulfilled the Activity Plan for 2012 with respect to the establishment of a Secretariat, the recruitment of new members, improving the website, launching a newsletter, starting project coordination, producing a PowerPoint presentation and a new portfolio, but not with respect to achieve financial strength, writing debating articles in professional journals, reaching out to mass media, producing a publication on the social production of habitat and professional ethics, and to use existing international networks for Corporate Social Responsibility. Despite the latter non-achievements the Board finds that a great step forward has been taken during 2012 for ASF-International.