The Somsook Magic…

All that read and heard, it was truly amazing to meet the person behind the scene and listen to her talk about her baby- CODI. Many doubts and questions became clearer during the presentations of the first few days. But the most enlightening part was definitely the meeting with the communities that stood testimony for the work of CODI.

My site which was called Bang Poo is one the largest of the Baan Mankong Program with 9 communities as part of it. All these communities were at different stages of the program with different site conditions and wide range of social and economic conditions. But the binding factor among them was the willingness for a change which they regarded as the best step to their future. Here I tried to connect our definition of transformation to suit the situation- irreversible, catalytic and process driven. The rest of the field work was also a test of the strategies that was put together prior to the trip.

The field work itself was quite a challenge as the community wanted us to take a specific task of estimating and listing the re-usable materials as part of cost reduction in a community that is in its preliminary stages of the program. We as a team decided to carry out our work at a multiscalar level as we also wanted to study and assess the impact of the program on the community to suit the four topics that we had to look at. Hence, at the macro scale we tried to study the relation of the communities to the wider urban fabric of the city keeping in mind the current issues from the community brief. At the community level our task was to gather an overall spatial cognition and understanding the activity pattern of the people.

The outcome of this method resulted in a few important meetings with the mayor, the treasury department and the community leaders and an extensive participatory workshop for the community. The knowledge gathered within 3 days was immense and way richer than our assimilations from the readings. The question that prevailed was the validity of the proposed strategies to fit into such complex situations. Personally I think I have learnt a lot from this hands-on experience- to be sensitive to people, to act according to situation, to be flexible in terms of working plans and more importantly the importance of listening.
I have just grown to respect Somsook a lot more – for empowering people to just speak for themselves and make themselves heard!

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