At the Neighborhood Initiative we play a catalyst role. We listen to our neighbors, mainly through continuous, mostly informal meetings; identify intersections between their concerns and university expertise; conceptualize research and outreach activities, and raise funds.
Once we plant the seed, we become facilitators by forming multidisciplinary teams; coordinating and managing activities; offering logistical support; and facilitating implementation.
In everything we do, we are advocates for the neighborhood. We facilitate contact with the public sector and decision makers; promote the neighborhood in high-level policy discussions; encourage the AUB community to get involved in serving the neighborhood; and bring neighbors’ concerns and possible solutions to the attention of policymakers.
Our focus since the August 4, 2020 explosion in the Beirut port has been the Neighborhood Initiative’s Disaster Response, which includes ongoing projects such as Al Jar lil Jar that provides monthly support to needy families in Ras Beirut, and referrals of vulnerable elderly neighbors to the AUB Gold Clinic for free consultations and support to secure medications and tests.
We have also taken on new projects such as damage assessment for quick household and SME repairs (entrance doors, aluminum frames, and glass) in Ras Beirut, with Nusaned NGO; securing land in Karantina from the Municipality of Beirut and collaborating with Development Inc., Lebanon Reforestation Initiative, UN-Habitat, and other partners as part of the Rubble to Mountains Initiative to collect rubble and glass debris to be sorted and recycled for the rehabilitation of abandoned quarries in an effort to divert debris from landfills; supporting affected Karantina families with electrical appliances, food boxes and hygiene kits; and reopening the Karantina Municipal Garden and collaborating with Catalytic Action and an AUB clinical psychology team to support children suffering from post-traumatic conditions.
To support heritage preservation efforts of buildings in Mar Mikhael severely affected by the August 4, 2020 blast, we have collaborated with Nusaned NGO to rehabilitate the Gholam cluster. These two buildings are a beautiful example of the architectural development in Beirut between 1870 and 1930. With works to be completed in spring 2021, five families will be coming back home, bringing life and hope back to the blast area.
Topics of Interest
Since its formation, the Neighborhood Initiative has been engaged in a range of research and outreach projects and activities that focus on the following thematic areas: