Amor a la lucha : women’s narratives of community development and resilience in Los Platanitos, Santo Domingo Norte, Dominican Republic
This project investigates community resilience and gendered empowerment in self-built neighborhoods through the experience of community development organization Mujeres Unidas (Women United) in Los Platanitos, Dominican Republic. Although located within the city limits of Santo Domingo Norte, Los Platanitos is excluded from key city services and infrastructure, as well as from many formal city planning processes. Through qualitative methods of deep hanging out, semi-structured interviews, and participatory action workshops, this study identifies social entrepreneurship, mutual learning, and relationships of care as key dimensions of gendered forms of resilience for Mujeres Unidas. Engaging with social resilience and in particular loving and caring relationships forms part of a larger process of undoing fear of places and people in self-built neighborhoods. The broader impacts of this case study lie at the intersection of planning and development efforts that seek to create more equitable and inclusive urban community development processes, while taking care to avoid simplistic portrayals of communities where this work is occurring. This project also contributes insight into the co-production of urban resilience and vulnerability, which allows for a more complete understanding of complex political, economic, and social processes in self-built neighborhoods. In the face of increasing urbanization and precarity worldwide, such comprehensive understanding of these dynamics is particularly urgent. Practitioners can draw on insights from this study to more effectively engage communities in a collaborative process for transformative planning outcomes.