This fall, the One Eleuthera Foundation (OEF) and Centre for Training and Innovation (CTI) are again collaborating with international university partners; Emory University (Atlanta) and Clemson University (South Carolina) on collaborative projects to benefit our local communities and foster shared learning and cross-cultural experiences between The Bahamas and the US.
In partnership with OEF, student teams of nurses from Emory University have visited and volunteered on Eleuthera as a part of their study abroad programs for close to two decades. These visits have provided an invaluable opportunity for each new cohort to learn about the island’s healthcare system and gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges faced by small island developing states and family island healthcare facilities.
Under the direct supervision of local medical professionals, Emory’s student nurses work in local healthcare settings where they observe first-hand the innovative solutions and adaptations developed to best serve patients based in more rural communities with limited resources. This month, the Emory nurses will spend a week in South Eleuthera volunteering at local clinics, visiting schools, and providing free community health checks and health education.
Additionally, a team of students from Clemson University’s School of Architecture has begun phase one of conceptualizing the sustainable development of the Tarpum Bay waterfront. This groundbreaking project is being spearheaded by Dr. Hala Nassar, Professor of Landscape Architecture and supported by OEF. It will engage Clemson’s undergraduate architecture students in redesigning the Tarpum Bay waterfront based on the vision, needs and desires of the local community, while incorporating innovative, sustainability-driven ideas and best industry practices.
On September 29th, the initial fact-finding exercise took place at the Eleuthera Arts and Cultural Center in Tarpum Bay. Approximately fifty community stakeholders and residents participated in an interactive mapping exercise giving direct input on the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities to be considered in the development of this iconic and historically rich waterfront.
The mapping exercise provided critical data from stakeholders on ways the area can be developed to maximize the economic, social and environmental assets of the land and seascape, keeping the future growth and trajectory of the settlement and the community’s vision for its development at the forefront.
The project will integrate key priorities like hurricane-resistant structures, sustainable tourism activities, blue economy opportunities, food security, and the establishment of resilient community spaces that promote social inclusion, enjoyment and authentic “place-based” recreational activities.
“We are pleased to have Clemson University as an education partner and co-collaborator alongside our community stakeholders in this effort,” explains Keyron Smith, President and CEO of OEF. “Community engagement is an essential component of sustainable development because it ensures that the needs of local communities are heard and prioritized. Community members are best positioned to identify the challenges and opportunities needed for progress. They can help shape development initiatives to effectively meet their unique needs.”
Excited to leverage her expertise and passion for sustainable development to this initiative, Dr. Hala Nassar cites, “Landscape architecture plays a pivotal role in the evolution of cultures, societies, and the environment. Landscape architecture is not an art, and it is not a science — it is a hybrid. It is a very interesting field that blends together the knowledge of science and the knowledge of art. It weaves artistic talents and inclinations with scientific facts and grounding — and that makes it super appealing to me. It is logical and has reasoning behind it, but the results are appealing and easy for people to engage with it.”
The Tarpum Bay Development project is the second initiative pioneered by Dr. Nassar on the island. Last year, in partnership with OEF, her undergraduate landscape architecture students created a Master Campus Development Plan for the Centre for Training and Innovation (CTI) in Rock Sound. The students’ designs focused on four areas: the Retreat Hotel and Welcome Center, the CTI Farm, and the expanded CTI School footprint.
The students combined out-of-the-box thinking, diverse campus sustainability ideas, and computer-generated design tools to present brilliant concepts for the future CTI campus. The original research and mapping exercise was conducted in collaboration with Val Pintard of the University of The Bahamas, and students from UB’s Department of Architecture and Technology.
Dr. Nassar’s current class will spend the next eight months pouring over the data and generating problem-solving ideas to incorporate into their submissions. The cohort will work on concepts to amplify the potential of the Tarpum Bay waterfront to become a prominent attraction and place for greater commerce and social engagement.
They will wrap up this project in May of 2024 and visit Eleuthera to present their portfolio of work to the Tarpum Bay community in hopes that the visual concepts and ideas can be used to revitalize the area and provide the community with a sustainable development plan to actualize in the coming months and years.