Turquoise Mountain Foundation, Murad Khane, Kabul, Afganistan turquoisemountain.org—Murad Khane, once a vibrant commercial and trading center in the heart of Kabul, has suffered deeply over the last century. Its mud-and- timber buildings are some of the finest remaining examples of Afghan vernacular architecture, but many are on the verge of collapse, and the community lacks the resources and services to preserve and regenerate the area. Last year, Afghanistan’s President, Hamid Karzai, and Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, launched a multimillion-dollar project, the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, to restore the ancient neighborhood from the most recent round of warfare. The organization’s mission: to provide basic services, improve infrastructure, save historic buildings, and construct a new bazaar and galleries for traditional craft businesses.
World Monuments Fund wmf.org—Almost two years after Hurricane Katrina barreled across the Gulf Coast, New Orleans residents are still struggling to rebuild homes and neighborhoods and to restore a semblance of their previous lives. In January 2006, the World Monuments Fund-in partnership with the Preservation Trades Network (a nonprofit organization that works on projects related to traditional trades) and the University of Florida College of Design, Construction and Planning-launched a program to help resurrect historic districts torn apart by the storm and flooding. By restoring the region’s historic architecture, they aim to reconnect and empower residents and re-establish a sense of identity and community.
Natural Capital Project, California, Hawaii, Tanzania, and Upper Yangtze, China naturalcapitalproject.org—A joint project of Stanford University, The Nature Conservancy, and the World Wildlife Fund, this group of scientists and ecologists has developed a powerful computer application and modeling system that evaluates the economic benefits of different land-use scenarios. In other words, they’ve got the tools to prove that natural sites, if left alone, may be more valuable than if developed—and it gives them a persuasive way to argue to government and private industry that a healthy ecosystem is a good investment.
One Laptop per Child, Boston, Massachusetts laptop.org —Nicholas Negroponte’s mission is as audacious as it is appealing: the former MIT professor wants to put a durable, energy-efficient laptop in the hands of every child. To that end, the nonprofit Negroponte founded two years ago, One Laptop Per Child, is putting the finishing touches on a cutting-edge yet child-friendly machine, the lunchbox-size XO, which costs a mere $175 to produce and is being offered to ministries of education throughout the developing world.