Our first intensive meeting from 1PM to 6PM this Monday. It really helped to get back on track with our work with the pre-meetings and the actual first lecture. For the assignment of background studies, we decided to split up the work in different subjects and pre-draft it for our meeting in order to present to each other and get a comprehensive picture without doubling the work. It is amazing to see how much work is done from so many different parties in public and private sector from national to international level in the area of post-disaster reconstruction. I think my main highlight in the research I did was Skat, a Swiss based consultancy and foundation that works in different areas of development aid across the globe. As consulting is something I could see myself in probably more likely than academics (at least in the beginning), I will definitely look into this more detailed in the future.
For the group spirit and also in order to create a common vision for the project, it really helped that we finally worked on something next to each other. It is always such a huge difference if you just meet up to discuss results and then everyone spreads out again to do his tasks at home. I always prefer to work together with people in a physical sense, even if it’s in utmost silence and only every now and then you ask someone: ‘Hey, what do you think about this? Should we rather go towards A or B?’ and then the response is: ‘Wait, don’t you think we could scrap a little bit of B and combine it with A so we go towards C?’. It is just so much more effective, and I would have loved if the actual course schedule would have included a fixed group working time. As for now, it is really complicated to fix those longer lasting group meetings because they are not ‘forced’ by the university.
Anyways, we got our website almost going and advanced with some visual appearance for our project in order to create some kind of framework to create visibility in. Finally, I can use my web development skills for something study related again. Our biggest ‘problem’ is still the fact, that we don’t have any precise goal or target in our scope. The area of reconstruction is rather vast, and you can look at architecture, people, resources, etc from so many different views. Just taking people as our main object of study, would still leave so many possibilities: Is it local who are living in the reconstructed buildings? Is it construction worker who are working on those buildings? Is it NGOs and other development entities trying to work in Nepal? Is it the people who actually decide on something on a bigger scale picture, e.g. governance? In order to overcome this problem of too many options, we decided to create some kind of interview guideline with recurring questions which we are presenting to various experts in this area either in personal interview, skype video chat or online survey. This should then generate some sort of pool of high interest topics for different people from different backgrounds, so we can arguably narrow down or aim and try to formulate a precise objective.
The Wednesday lecture showed us even more, that our main problem is still the unclear vision of where we are going. You can gather and sort as many stakeholders as you want, but if you don’t know what you are actually doing, it is rather futile since you can’t prioritize them in any way. For the next week, we are trying to come up with as many small-scale goals as possible and create a huge wall of options for us to pick from. This method is something I learned to apply during my industrial design studies where you generate let’s say 60 different functional or technological concepts in your area of work and then gradually try to combine them to more complex constructs in the next step. This allows for a vast picture in the beginning and a transparent decision-making process as you develop multiple so called ‘consolidated concepts’ based on everyone’s input. I hope that both, the interview process and our own visioning will create something more tangible for us to work on.