Check out this moving video featuring the Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN) – UC Berkeley collaboration to co-design an environmentally and culturally sustainable house on the PPN reservation in Mendocino County, California. Featured (@ about 2 minutes into the video) are tribal community members (including youth!), tribal planners and leaders, UC Berkeley engineers–faculty, graduate and undergraduate students–who are collectively reconceptualizing green building in ways that are situated in the lives and values of the people at Pinoleville. This project is a good example of one avenue for democratizing technoscience. The tribal community worked closely over the course of a few years with a UC Berkeley team comprised of engineering and architecture students and faculty to “co-design” a plan for constructing houses that tribal members could not only live in, but thrive in. In the course of design and building, several innovative things happened. The community’s expertise was valued. This collaborative group did not only build a house, but they dismantled the usual hierarchical relationships between the technical experts and the “end users,” or the community. Accordingly, this group built more than a house. In other design/building and research efforts (this collaboration was both) the technical capacity of experts and researchers gets built and refined while end users get a product. And research subjects, if they are lucky, get vague indications of potential benefits down the road, or simply satisfaction from offering their bodies, communities, or cultural practices for examination by researchers who produce “knowledge for the good of all.” The PPN-Berkeley collaboration turns all of that on its head. The capacity of students, faculty, tribal planners, and community members got built. There are now tribal youth who have encountered Berkeley and can envision themselves attending this institution one day. Not only the research institution but the tribal institution got built during the course of this project. The tribe, importantly, controlled some of the project funding. In fact, the collaboration in large part began as a tribally-driven research project when the tribe approached the university with an idea. There are many lessons to be gained from this project, too much for this blog post. Watch the video. You too will be inspired. And if you want to learn more about this project go to the Web site of one of the lead engineering graduate students involved in the collaboration,Ryan L. Shelby. (The video also includes a brief treatment of a “sustainable surfing” project–so cool–that Berkeley faculty and grad students are involved in.) If you’re in the Bay Area Ryan Shelby and Pinoleville Pomo Nation environmental director, David S. Edmunds will speak to my undergraduate class on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. here at UC Berkeley, 126 Barrows Hall. I’ll be happy to welcome you to join in the learning.