As you may recall, my partner and I are engaged in two major projects. Above is a picture taken 3 days ago of our progress on the one we're constructing of bricks, a condominium of 7 units on the coast of Carboneras, province of Almería, Spain.

And below, here's an idea of what we will be looking at as we complete the other project, built of words, a history of architecture and urbanism in Latin America.


Caracas, 1963-64: Buckets of cement

Someone signing as "Curious" has asked: "You say in your personal description that after college you "worked in the barrios of Caracas, Venezuela"-- that seems to have been a pivital experience for you, so we'd like to know--under whose auspicios was that experience (we may not have the right English word, we mean, which group provided that opportunity for you to do that)?"

The organization was called "ACCION en Venezuela" ("ACCION" was an acronym for a long name that we in the organization could never remember -- "Americans for Community Cooperation" in something or other). Created by an American (i.e., U.S. citizen), Joseph Blatchford, and some young associates around (I think) 1961, and funded by private corporations with investments in Venezuela, it recruited both young foreigners like me and Venezuelan nationals, mostly college students, to work in poor urban neighborhoods to foment community associations, or asociaciones de vecinos, for social improvements. I personally worked and lived in Barrio Sucre in Petare and later in Bo. Las Minas de Baruta, in close association with Venezuelan co-workers who, like me, were in their early 20s. Our projects included building cement stairways, digging ditches for sewer and waterline installation, and even building a small school, all in operaciones cayapas -- campaigns of collective volunteer labor by the men and women of the community. Our little organization used its contacts to acquire bags of cement and other materials needed, including usually the food that the women prepared for us laborers in every operación cayapa. Years later I went back to visit, and could see one of our stairways in constant use. It gave me a thrill. I even found one of the men I'd worked with on that occasion, shouldering buckets of cement mix to climb the hill and dump into the frame. Toribio Blanco, in Bo. Sucre, Petare -- if you see him, please give him my regards.

For an interesting discussion of the history of community development and asociaciones de vecinos in Venezuela, see DHV para nosotros. "ACCION en Venezuela" is one of the many programs mentioned there.