Team Coconut Curry and the March Madness!

Brescia, Bangkok Interim Field-trip Presentation, dissertation, essay and report deadlines galore! It was a period of just under two weeks in the run up to the first BUDD-UDP presentation. Blood, sweat and tears were shed, we were in fear of the unexpected (slight exaggeration).

Ok just to explain Coconut Curry; we needed a name, beginning with the letter ‘C’, for our group-blog, and ultimately the team. Team D decided on Team Dhrin, after our resident Thai specialist, so we needed to find something equally relatable to Thailand. Since the majority of the group are keen food enthusiasts reference to a Thai chicken delicacy seemed apt, and so Team Coconut Curry was born.

Anyway, March has been a mad month full of final submissions and exams for all modules on the masters. The prospect of presenting our findings to a group specialising in planning and policy, with a Baan Mankong expert and of course Caren Levy was pretty daunting. It forced us to group, sub-divide and regroup to split tasks and use our remaining time wisely; the moment had come to start producing rather than continuing to discuss.

As the transformation group we met a couple of times during the week after the final Bangkok seminar to review previous discussions and plan a way forward to define the term ‘transformation’ and generate a set of criteria to analyse the transformative nature of the Baan Mankong Programme. We clarified the definition of transformation based on the buzzwords and categories drawn up in the previous team meeting:

“Transformation is an irreversible process which derives from a catalyst at a point of resilience or opportunity. Over time it occurs in multiple levels of institutions and territories, driven by people’s self determined priorities in challenging the status quo”

Our discussions led us to devise categories into which we would draw up a list of questions that could help us develop a cohesive set of criteria. Each group member was assigned a category or two:

  • Vulnerability/Resilience – Desirée
  • Stakeholders, Communication & Networks – Sadiqa
  • Livelihoods – Su-Ann
  • Power Relations/Institutional Scale – Ivana
  • Territorial Scale – Ivana
  • Capacity Building – Amrita
  • Accountability, Transparency & Engagement – Maíra

Through discussions of the method of presenting the process of developing the definition and criteria we brainstormed ideas which included the use of a short video capturing the notion of transformation in a more dynamic way. We looked at some video techniques to draw as precedents to develop our proposal further to present to the team in our next meeting:

Each movie was transformative in nature and was continuously moving and developing with a clear beginning, middle and an end. The story board and narrative was imperative in our short movie.

We brainstormed possible objects or processes that could be recorded included people drawing and writing on a whiteboard or paper and also the scrunching and un-scrunching of paper. One idea was to combine the two so that a definition could be written on paper, then scrunched up, opened up to reveal a whiteboard which would be written and drawn on. By wiping the whiteboard clean, digitalised text and graphics will appear concluding the movie. This would convey the process of defining and generating criteria for transformation. It was not clear to the team how ‘transformative’ or irreversible the process of scrunching up a paper and then reopening it is. Was it really irreversible? But the idea of a video presentation was well received and encouraged. The next stage would be to create a storyboard and producing the content for the recording.

After the transformation discussions, Team Coconut Curry reviewed the actor mapping. As a large group it was difficult to discuss the progress without many people sitting idle while one or two people wrote or typed up information. It was fair to conclude that the actor group had to work on the mapping using the blog abstracts for more efficient group discussions. The plan was to meet on Tuesday and Wednesday the following week to produce material and create the movie presentation.

The transformation sub-group met again to devise a plan of action and discuss briefly the comments from team. The definition needed work by breaking it down the keywords and explaining what they meant. Principles and guidelines would inform the criteria for analysing the transformative elements of Baan Mankong. Our presentation would be a stop-motion recording of the transformation definition and criteria. Su-Ann volunteered to create a storyboard for the movie while everyone was to complete the questions within their assigned categories. The initial order of the presentation would be a brief introduction to the group, showing of the video, and then a conclusion. It was important for the words to transform in an interesting and captivating manner.

With great timing came our eye-opening Brescia BUDDCamp. The issue related to marginalised communities within a ‘developed’ European country was contentious, and enabled me to view my British identity with fresh pride and respect. As a practice-run of the Bangkok field trip my group used a variety of techniques for recording information such as sketching, photography and formal, informal and unplanned conversations with people through observation of activities in the city centre, Quartiere del Carmine. It was important to test group dynamics over an intensive yet fun weekend before the 2-week real exercise in Bangkok.

Thanks for reading thus far, please tune in for my next blog to find out what happened next!

Sadiqa

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