Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Los Pocitos Outdoor Community Center

Project #
Colorado College
  • Mitra Ghaffari
  • Evyn Papworth

Los Pocitos

Los Pocitos Outdoor Community Center

In Los Pocitos, a marginalized neighborhood in Havana, “our goal was to create a unifying community space that would help foster educational, artistic and cultural exchange,” write Mitra Ghaffari and Evyn Papworth. Both had previously done community service in the neighborhood while studying abroad.

However, when they returned to Cuba last summer, Evyn and Mitra found they couldn’t get permission to build a new community center in the space they had chosen — so they gave the project an extra five weeks and adapted their plans. Working with residents, they shifted the pieces of their envisioned center among “various communal spaces” in the neighborhood.

They renovated a family clinic, set up an outdoor classroom behind the clinic, transformed an abandoned room in a sports stadium into a classroom and meeting space, and organized improvement work in one of the neighborhood’s more neglected areas, where community members helped to clean trash, the government repaired broken footbridges, and artists painted murals on house walls.

Evyn and Mitra organized and led three workshops for young people each week, on topics ranging from photography and music making to environmental awareness and kids’ yoga. Their final, daylong event for all of Los Pocitos featured artists’ workshops, a gallery of youth art, a documentary on local recycling, storytelling, and a carnival parade.

“Struggling through the challenges of the construction process with community members,” they conclude, “made our relationships that much stronger and the fruits of our collective labor that much sweeter.”