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Benjamin Bradlow '08 Named Among Top 200 Young South Africans

Benjamin Bradlow '08 Named
Among Top 200 Young South Africans

by Alisa Giardinelli

Benjamin Bradlow '08
"In my work with federations of the urban poor through SDI, the practice of altering the dynamics of power is something that is very alive and real," says Benjamin Bradlow '08. "The key is to support the initiatives of ordinary people that too often find themselves on the losing end of these relationships."

Benjamin Bradlow '08 is among the top 200 young South Africans by the Mail & Guardian, the country's top weekly newspaper. Bradlow is the research and documentation officer for Slum Dwellers International (SDI), an alliance of national community organizations of the urban poor in 33 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Earlier this year, he worked with community partners to publish a newspaper written entirely by members of SDI-affiliated groups and others living in informal settlement communities.

"For me, it is important to develop methods of documentation that amplify the voices of those leading this global movement for urban change," says Bradlow of the effort to establish uTshani Buyakhuluma - Zulu for "the grass is talking," playing on the concept of grassroots organizing. The paper is now distributed in informal settlement communities in every region of South Africa.

"Communities are excited and are preparing to contribute stories for the next edition," he says. "Government officials and other formal actors have been taken aback at the breadth and depth of analysis and articulation that ordinary poor people have expressed in the first edition. Some private companies are also looking into advertising, so that this project can become free of donor funds."

This fall, Bradlow will begin a two-year masters program in the International Development Group of MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning.