Dreams in a Virtual World: Block by Block
Minecraft allows us to create countless worlds of imagination, but what if it could be used to reimagine our own? A tool to see everyday areas through a child’s eyes. In an unlikely partnership, the United Nations and Mojang teamed up to offer just that.
It begins with taking an everyday space, somewhere with community importance in need of repair or an empty area left without purpose, and recreating it within Minecraft. The virtual world is then shared with the local youth and residents to make their neighborhood all that it could be. Sometimes a little more then it could be, I would imagine! But nothing that wouldn’t make for inspiration.
From new parks to greenery, electricity, repairs, and even essential infrastructure, it is all brought to life based on their in-game designs. Block by block, one could say. But how does something like this work?
The endeavor began nearly a decade ago in a primarily self-funded partnership between Mojang and UN-Habitat dubbed Block by Block. Their mission to encourage the participation of youth in urban regeneration while helping communities along the way. Something I would say has been quite successful considering their work in over thirty countries across the globe.
Take Place de la Paix for example; a multi-use park in Tikok, Les Cayes, Haiti.
The newly added greenery may make it hard to tell, but one can now find a modern park here complete with lighting, toilets, trash facilities, flood prevention, a sports field, and repaired play structures. All thanks to the creativity of the community with Block by Block at their side.
Block by Block’s work has not slowed in the wake of COVID-19. In fact, the public spaces that they helped flourish have only become more important. Their efforts now are to ensure that these spaces are equipped to handle the challenges of COVID-19.
A percentage of Block by Block’s funding has additionally been directed towards supporting vulnerable cities around the globe in their fight against the virus. From creating Imagination Kits for Children in São Paulo, Brazil to supporting market vendors in Kisumu, Kenya, they are completing small-scale projects where they can. All in addition to their regular work.
When next passing an empty lot or a park that has fallen by the wayside, imagine it recreated within a Minecraft world. How would you change it? Together with young family and neighbors, what could it become? Putting aside the floating trees and oversized wool chickens, it would probably be a sight to see.
Until Next time,
Should there be interest in supporting Block by Block, their donation page can be found here.
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