Friday, October 05, 2012

Caribbean nationals eager to develop P3DM in their countries: "P3DM a unique, totally new experience"

SCARBOROUGH, 1 October, 2012. Trainers and facilitators took up tools on Monday to begin work on a participatory 3D model of Tobago.   Base maps were prepared by a team from the Engineering Faculty of the University of the West Indies (UWI).  The base map must be precisely done, warns Kail Zingapan, a Participatory GIS expert from PAFID an NGO based in the Philippines, otherwise creating the model will incur some serious delays and the model itself will not be an accurate P3DM.
Adanna Pigot-Henry from CARDI, Tobago is hard at work
tracing the map contour onto the cardboard
The process of creating the model involves tracing single contour lines visible on the base map onto cardboard sheets, cutting these precisely along these lines, and thereby creating layers that represent different elevations.  Each cardboard layer is then glued onto the one representing the lower elevation contour.  Kail likens the layering process to that of stacking pancakes.  Each contour layer is “every point of equal elevation”, she explains.  The elevation model of the island and surrounding waters was developed beforehand by Dr. Bheshem Ramlal of the UWI.  Posters listing the layers to be traced were stuck onto the walls of the workshop area to guide the process.

Kenn Mondiai glues a layer onto  the model
After a number of layers are glued on top of each other, crêpe paper and glue are used to smooth the edges of the single layers so the blank model "looks like a terrain", Kail tells participants at the workshop.  She tells them too, that this part of the exercise must be completed by Wednesday evening to allow the paper to dry so that informants’ data can be added to the model, beginning on Thursday.  The informants are community members - for example, elders, fisherfolk, farmers, hunters, environmentalists and other resource users - who are "traditional custodians of spatial knowledge" and who provide information about their neighbourhood and knowledge of its use to be transferred to the map.

During the planning and introduction workshop last Saturday (September 29), participants developed the legend for the map - symbols (points, lines and areas) - to use during the coding process to locate and depict man-made and natural features on the model.  Members of civil society organizations and experts from the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment-Tobago House of Assembly (THA), CANARI and the UWI attended that introductory workshop.

Caribbean participants at the workshop are especially keen to be part of the P3DM  project.  Ingrid Parchment of the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, which is based in Jamaica, is eager to get community members involved in producing a P3DM of Portland Bight.  She works at Portland Blight which is a protected area.  Ingrid says she is learning a lot from the workshop, as she noted a very helpful video which showed the process of producing a P3DM, step-by-step.

Orisha Joseph (Grenada), Natalie Boodram (Saint Lucia)
and Jacinthe Amyot (Colombia)  working on base map
A papier-mâché of Portland Bight has already been created and Ingrid feels the P3DM would be a step up.  However, she is mindful of the need to have experts involved in the activity.  “Especially a GIS expert”, she emphasizes, with a wink and a smile.

Likewise, Dr. Natalie Boodram who works at the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) - a CARICOM agency with an environmental mandate that is based in Saint Lucia - says that the concept of working with communities to do individual P3DMs is “unique” and a “totally new experience".  She says that the workshop is helping her appreciate the value of community input in creating a 3D model of a given space.

Lessons in facilitation

Farzaana Baksh  explains good facilitator skills on
the "Body map" produced by her group
While precision and attention to detail are crucial to the creation of the P3DM, there are also moments for fun and laughter.   One such moment of light-heartedness was the ‘train the trainers’ session, last Sunday afternoon.   As part of a group exercise, one person laid on a large piece of white paper on the floor and her shape was traced onto the paper.  Her group then ‘mapped’ on different parts of the drawing, the characteristics of a good facilitator.  ‘Body mapping’, as the exercise is called, drew on the lessons the participants learned with the guidance of CANARI’s Senior Technical Officer and workshop coordinator, Neila Bobb-Prescott.

Neila’s sessions helped participants understand the attributes of a good facilitator.  She called the attention to fundamental issues such as “how we dress” and “how we pose” (i.e. body language) and the impact of these issues on how the facilitator is perceived at community level.  She outlined various ways in which good facilitators make every effort to get individuals to express their views.

Lessons in logistics 

Patricia Franco, Administrative Officer at CANARI shares
her insight on logistical planning with workshop participants
Another valuable lesson was taught by CANARI’s Administrative Officer, Patricia Franco.  In introducing Patricia, Neila referred to her as an expert who does detailed coordination and management of information for workshops.  Logistics assist in ensuring the smooth running of an event and therefore every facilitator should have a working knowledge and develop the skill of good logistical planning Neila says.
Pat, as Patricia is fondly called, explained the importance of every component in planning an event.  Using the workshop as an example, she pointed to the many individual activities she had to organize.  These ranged from coordinating participants’ flight plans to housing and feeding participants catering.

Members of the workshop - trainers, students, teachers and experts - are certainly gaining all-round knowledge and skills while working diligently to get the process moving forward.

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