Last week, the “first real inauguration of the [Konbit Shelter] community center with workshops and events brought by Ayiti Resurrect and Ayiti Cherie Healing” took place in Bigones, Haiti. The event has a special significance as tomorrow is the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake that shook the Caribbean island nation and killed over 100,000 Haitians.

Spearheaded by Brooklyn-based artist Swoon [pictured alone in the interior of the third photo], the Konbit Shelter Project was created with the idea that a group of artists, engineers, architects, and builders could pool their individual knowledge, resources, and time to make a lasting difference in post-earthquake Haiti.

The project is a rebuilding initiative, which “uses dome-style structures and the super-adobe technique of earth bag architecture to create sustainable, inexpensive and dependable housing for the people of Haiti. While the structures are extremely resistant to natural disasters, they also have the major benefit of being comprised of 90% earth and requiring no specialized scaffolding and understructure to build — making it a viable option for the people of Haiti to continue building on their own once they learn the method.”

The following was posted on the Konbit Shelter blog about the inauguration of the Konbit Shelter:

This week the community center and surrounding grounds were lit up by the faces of over 120 participants who took part in 2 days of expressive arts workshops, cultural activities and mental wellness programs. Ayiti Resurrect and Ayiti Cherie Healing Project were immensely honored to help inaugurate the community center by hosting the first programming to take place within its freshly painted walls.

As a team of visionary artists, community builders, and holistic healers with bloodlines in Haiti and the African Diaspora, we have been organizing ourselves as a grassroots delegation working in collaboration with local Haitian organizations to promote psychological and spiritual healing for earthquake-survivors based on principles of solidarity, creativity, and collective resilience …

… 14 local artists and 3 artists from the diaspora lead workshops with youth, using salvaged, recycled and natural resources to unlock creativity and ingenuity, creating something out of “nothing” with their own hands: masks out of calabash and brown paper mache, lanterns out of punctured tin and glass jars, bracelets woven from banana leaf, tin can maracas, plastic bottle toy cars, and river stone carvings. We also had song and drum circles, and a group went into the hillside to learn planting techniques and reforestation principles …

The Konbit space is profoundly beautiful and awe-evoking, radiating with the energy of all the imagination, collaboration, and dedicated work that created it. It was incredible to see its intention to serve as a gathering place for community events come to life …

All photos by Tod Seelie, and reproduced with permission. For the latest images and news about the Konbit Shelter, please visit

Also of interest, Brooklyn Street Art has a studio interview with Swoon, where she talks a little about the Konbit project.

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

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