[permaculture] Permaculure Design Project /MIT Donates Redesigned Surplus FEMA Trailer to Arts Organization Boston

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Mon Jun 8 10:56:28 EDT 2009

A surplus FEMA trailer, named the "Armadillo," redesigned and 
transformed by faculty and students of the Massachusetts Institute of 
Technology Visual Arts Program, will be donated to a non-profit arts 
organization at a ceremony at the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston 
June 18, 2009.

Cambridge, Mass. (PRWEB) June 8, 2009 -- A day of activities at the 
Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston on June 18 will celebrate the 
donation of the MIT's "Armadillo" trailer to Side Street Projects, a 
non-profit organization based in Pasadena, California. The 
"Armadillo" trailer is the result of a year-long collaborative art 
project, the MIT FEMA Trailer Project, in which faculty and students 
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Visual Arts Program 
transformed a surplus FEMA trailer into a "green" mobile composting 
center with vertical gardens, rainwater catchment system, 
permaculture library, and indoor multipurpose space. The trailer has 
been dubbed the "Armadillo" for its ribbed retractable shell.

Jae Rhim Lee is Director of the MIT FEMA Trailer Project and a 
Visiting Lecturer in the MIT Visual Arts Program. Lee describes the 
Armadillo as "both a practical tool and a metaphor for how disaster 
can be transformed into a tool for environmental and community 
The Armadillo was originally one of thousands of trailers purchased 
by FEMA to serve as temporary housing in the wake of Hurricanes 
Katrina and Rita in 2005. They have been tied to a host of issues 
surrounding indoor air quality health concerns, mental health 
problems in trailer parks, lack of affordable housing, and disaster 

MIT students studied these issues and researched the environmental, 
political, and social history of the trailers under the direction of 
Jae Rhim Lee, an artist, permaculture designer and former consultant 
to the City of New Orleans Mayor's Office of Recovery and 
Development. Students were then challenged to apply permaculture (a 
whole systems sustainable design approach) and environmental justice 
principles to the redesign and transformation of a single FEMA 
trailer into a model of urban sustainability and community change.

The MIT FEMA Trailer Project team chose Side Street Projects to 
receive the Armadillo after a nationwide search because of the 
non-profit's commitment to art education and environmental 

The transformed Armadillo trailer will be handed over to Side Street 
Projects at a ceremony on June 18, 2009, at 5:15 PM, at the Rose 
Kennedy Greenway Conservancy in Boston. Related events from Noon to 
7PM include temporary art projects and gardening workshops. Following 
the event, Side Street Projects will take the Armadillo trailer on a 
National Tour that includes tour stops at the National Mall in 
Washington, D.C. and the Louisiana State Museum.

Support for this project was provided by the MIT School of 
Architecture and Planning, MIT Department of Architecture, MIT Visual 
Arts Program, MIT Public Service Center and theCouncil for the Arts 
at MIT
For additional information on the MIT FEMA Trailer Project, contact 
Ed Halligan or visit http://visualarts.mit.edu/armadillo.

About the MIT Visual Arts Program:
The MIT Visual Arts Program, directed by Ute Meta Bauer, is focused 
on a critical approach to art in an advanced technological community, 
and art that challenges traditional genres and the limits of the 
gallery/museum context. The program is part of the Department of 
Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and offers 
undergraduate and graduate courses.
Contact: Ed Halligan
MIT Visual Arts Program

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