LETTER | REPRESENT Thank you for your excellent issue of the Harvard Kennedy School Magazine celebrating 75 years of the Kennedy School. The issue was very informative, particularly on the early years of the school. As graduates of the City and Regional Planning degree program, a degree program that was shifted from the School of Design to the KSG in 1981, we were interested in reading about that event in the Kennedy School’s history. The influx of students from the School of Design contributed to the growth of the KSG in a number of ways, including the size of the school (see the chart on page 17, “Then and Now Degrees Conferred”). Surprisingly, however, there was no mention of this event in the KSG’s history, even though, along with students, a number of important faculty came over to the KSG in the process. One of our favorites, Julie Wilson, is in fact pictured and highlighted on page 9 of the issue.
Regardless of this omission, many of us MCRP’ers continue to participate in the life of the KSG, including supporting the school financially.
Steve Klionsky MCRP 1981
John Kell MCRP
Betsy Manning MCRP 1981
In attempting to squeeze the rich history of an institution like ours into a few dozen pages we inevitably had to commit some sins of omission. Failing to fully tell the fascinating story of the school’s relationship with the Graduate School of Design and of the role that urban planning and policy have played here was one of them. Though we noted the important intellectual contributions of faculty such as Jose Gomez-Ibanez, Alan Altshuler, and Ron Ferguson, and recognized research hubs such as the Taubman Center for State and Local Government and the Joint Center for Housing Studies, we would have liked to have done more, including honoring the three decades’ worth of graduates of the MCRP, MPP/UP, and the concurrent degree program with GSD.
UPDATE | PUMP IT UP The SinPauk (“baby elephant” in Burmese) water pump costs $15, and its simple, sturdy design has given the more than 15,000 poor Burmese farmers who have bought one a dependable water source once the rainy season has passed. The product is just the latest offering by Proximity Designs, a social enterprise founded by Jim and Debbie Taylor, both MC/MPA 1990, to help rural families out of poverty. The Taylors were profiled in HKS Magazine in Spring 2009. Their extensive network of more than 180 retail shops and local staffers has helped them understand what’s needed at the grassroots level, and their products are designed in partnership with Stanford University. Proximity received a prestigious 2012 Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in recognition of their work.
The Taylors are also involved in humanitarian work. Through a “cash for work” program, they have given hundreds of grants, each around $5,000, to rural communities. The grants, which help fund projects such as footbridge construction and reservoir repair, are also used to introduce good governance: a “transparency flyer” posted in the villages where work is being done provides information on the project, including costs, wages, and a hotline number for reporting complaints.
The Taylors are having a larger-scale impact on the country as well. Now that progress is being made toward democratization, Proximity is working with the Ash Center to study the state of the country’s economy and help identify priority areas where policies to spur sustainable and equitable growth could be implemented. “They have a network of knowledge generation throughout the country that nobody else has,” says Tom Vallely, director of the Ash Center’s Vietnam Program.