Bowns, Caru and Silva, Carolina Pescatori C. "Community Practice, the Millennium Development Goals and Civil Society Measures in Brazil," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 5, issue 2 (2011).
“Community practice” is defined as those tasks and measures that facilitate the social, physical and economic development of underserved communities. Within the field of environmental design, “community practice” is manifested as participatory planning and design processes. This article also considers community practice in the expansive role of “public interest” design and as a discipline-based vehicle to implement the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The Millennium Development Goals are eight goals, 21 targets and 60 indicators charted to address global poverty. Of the eight goals, MDG7 Targets 7C and 7D focus on improvements to the built environment and inform/ “slum” communities. They offer the strongest nexus to participatory and community “design” practices in service to the MDGs. Most of the MDGs literature focuses on the first six Goals. Comparatively little research considers the interface between MDG7 Targets and community practice, i.e. those organizational and participatory measures integral to most civil society efforts to implement MDGs objectives. This study provides a discussion of the MDGs from an environmental design perspective pertaining to substandard urban environments and the importance of community practices to facilitate participation in decisions for sustainable development. A Brazil case study serves to exemplify urban poverty in one developing country and the civil society institutions that foster “grassroots” participation in Brazil. The conclusion addresses the potential of environmental design’s community practices to expand civic participation in implementing the MDGs.