Border Monastery Open Access
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The border between the U.S. and Mexico is a very long and mostly uninhabited area where natural environment and political jurisdiction collide. It is a threshold between and merging of cultures through migration and surveillance. The desert environment, harsh and beautiful, amplifies the urgency of migrant ambitions for a better life. The border fence makes concrete the firestorm wherein political ideologies combust. The conflicts of the border need to be interpreted and engaged with a radical redesign of the existing to help us imagine the possible. In this thesis, I propose a design solution for an ecumenical monastery, a non-political, non-nationalist, service oriented presence to meet the needs of the current and potential inhabitants of the border region near the town of Naco, AZ/Naco, Mexico. A small town of less than 100 residents that straddles two countries, Naco is also the location of three shootings of US border agents. Rural and remote, it has a reputation for being a discrete location for migrants to cross from the Mexico to the US, with ### being caught and deported each year. A multi-denominational monastery, with permanent and rotating spiritual practitioners can provide a stabilizing, neutral presence to the people of this region. Studying precedents set by the Buddhist and Christian Peace Fellowships, the design will provide a setting for religious practices such as prayer, meditation, bearing witness, providing refuge, and renouncing violence. It will follow the spirit of monasticism. It will be for people who want to shed their belongings and live a low-cost, low-impact lifestyle. And like any church or temple, it will provide food, shelter, and simple health services for those in the greatest need.