RE-IMAGINING RECOVERY: 

THE IDEAS BOX PROGRAM IN PUERTO RICO

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In the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Libraries Without Borders launched an Ideas Box pilot program in Loíza and La Perla, two communities where the devastation of these storms was compounded by limited access to, provision, and adequacy of basic public goods and services. 


Through the Ideas Box, a pop-up library and mobile multimedia center, Libraries Without Borders began providing avenues for informal learning, long-term capacity building, and sustainable recovery in Loíza and La Perla. 

Co-created with local leaders and community-based organizations, the Ideas Box Program in Puerto Rico is an initiative that responds to the ever-changing needs and interests of the residents who use it.

Learn more about the evolution of this program below.


RE-BUILDING & RESILIENCE

Puerto Rico experienced monumental devastation in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Once immediate needs like access to food, water, and shelter were met, residents had to confront new challenges brought on by cuts to public services, namely the closure of 283 schools, and long-standing fiscal crisis, which stymied the island’s economic recovery.

Given these realities, Libraries Without Borders forged partnerships with local leaders  in Loíza and La Perla, communities that were doubly impacted by the destruction of these storms. In partnership with these communities, we collectively explored ways to fill the gaps in public services, and equip residents with the tools they needed to revive their local economies. Following these discussions, we launched a pilot program in Loíza and La Perla that centered around promoting access to technology and digital tools through the Ideas Box, our mobile library and multimedia centers. The Ideas Box quickly became a popular hub for the community, a place where both adults and children could participate in educational workshops and cultural activities, as well as access critical information and services.  

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In 2019, LWB expanded upon these efforts by organizing “¡Emprendente Loíza!” This initiative brought design thinking, STEM, and entrepreneurship workshops to a community center in Loíza, where residents learned new skills in order to design prototypes that could promote positive social change in their community. The initiative culminated with a two-day “Creatón” (make-a-thon), which was the first of its kind in Puerto Rico!


A COMMUNITY-DRIVEN APPROACH

Over the summer, local leaders in Loíza leveraged the momentum of the “Creatón” to launch social entrepreneurship “boot camps” for youth in the community. Through these programs, kids and teens were encouraged to turn their ideas for improving Loíza into reality. From preserving local customs by filming elders cooking traditional dishes, to supporting a grassroots campaign to restore El Ancon, a landmark that had drawn tourists to Loíza and bolstered the local economy, participants came up with a number of incredibly creative and practicable ideas that showcased some of the best things that Loíza has to offer.

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Libraries Without Borders seeks to expand upon these efforts by providing communities with tools and training opportunities that align with their needs. By working closely with residents in Loíza and La Perla, we plan to harness local ingenuity to iterate and improve upon the Ideas Box and better support community-driven projects that promote learning, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

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If you’d like to get involve or you’re having questions, please contact us!