Ethical Decision-Making and Grassroots Diplomacy: Women’s Co-Op

FACTS AND LOGIC

  • 35% of the children in this East African region have stunted growth.
  • If children are breastfed for too long they have a higher chance of contracting HIV
  • Maize and banana gruel is the common food for babies starting around 2 months to 24 months and accompanies breastfeeding
  • The gruel isn’t that nutritious despite common opinion among the locals
  • People are skeptical of the pesticides and the adverse health effects these pesticides can give to the babies
  • You have a grant to establish a women’s cooperative to improve the nutritional status of the children and improve the livelihoods of rural households.
  • The funds will help the women’s group make a nutritious self stable porridge to help children wean off breastfeeding.
  • Approximately 500 women in the area are willing to join
  • WHO says to breastfeed exclusively until 6 months
  • The longer someone with HIV breastfeeds the more likely they are to transmit their diseases to their child

STAKEHOLDERS AND MOTIVATIONS

  • Children at breastfeeding age: are not old enough to understand their stake in this situation, thus have no needs other than food
  • Lactating mothers: want their babies to grow up healthy, want to prevent them from getting health complications from HIV, pesticides, malnutrition, etc
  • Other Women: they may be in the women’s cooperative making the porridge as part of the project, potential employment opportunity with the cooperative, will want their future children to be healthy
  • Women’s cooperative Grant Donor: Want women to be healthier, want their money to go towards a productive venture (worthy investment)
  • You as a researcher: want to make everyone happy, professionally need to develop a successful co-operative
  • Local Farmers: your crops may be used to produce the porridge that will be created with the women’s cooperative, you will make money
  • Doctors: want healthy communities, want to be equipped in the case of new health problems arise because of pesticide use?
  • The future co-op: motivated to stay open, be useful – help women, make money

SOLUTIONS to this ethical question: “Is it okay to add a risk of childhood sickness from pesticides in order to lower the risk of HIV/AIDS”

  • Triage system to diagnose mothers with HIV before birth
    • Ethical Principle/code: Utilitarian
    • Useless to prevent against HIV if the baby gets it during the birth process
    • Pros: HIV can be better monitored for women, helps to ensure that the baby does not get HIV, women who test positive can seek treatment and help stop transmission
    • Cons: added task to medical staff
  • The current solution is: Fortify the current gruel with vitamins and minerals but has a problem with pesticide use
    • Ethical Principle/code: Virtue –  process also matters too
    • Pros: would sufficiently replace breastfeeding and meet nutrition needs
    • Cons: wouldn’t eliminate women’s skepticism. Would still have pesticides
  • Eliminate crops in the porridge that have a higher risk of pesticide harm i.e. utilized covered crops like pumpkins, bananas for making gruel
    • Ethical Principle/code: Utilitarian – the greatest good for the greatest number
    • Pros:  Simple, no added cost or big change of process
    • Cons: Fewer nutrients from losing various other foods
  • Create a protocol that people can follow to properly wash crops
    • Ethical Principle/code: Virtue
    • Pros: Helps reduce amounts of pesticides left on crops, creates healthy habits, could prevent ingestion of harmful bacteria left on crops
    • Cons: even with the wash, there may still be pesticides present on the crops, people can get sick if the protocol isn’t followed properly
  • Look into pesticide chemicals and decide if there are “cleaner” pesticides or more natural methods for getting rid of pests
    • Ethical Principle/code: Duty
    • Pros: less toxic pesticides used=not as harmful effects on the body, pests likely won’t destroy crops as much as no pesticide use
    • Cons: there is already a negative connotation regarding pesticides people may not believe there are “cleaner” pesticides
  • Recruit specific farmers that practice safer growing w/o pesticides
    • Ethical Principle/code: Duty
    • Pros: it could support local business and keep the economy strong in the community, it would eliminate the stigma around having food made with produce grown with pesticides. We could get a deal with a farmer for cheaper prices
    • Cons: these farmers might not be able to handle the amount of produce required

SEEK ASSISTANCE

https://www.azurihealth.co.ke/

https://www.pan-uk.org/health-effects-of-pesticides/

THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION

Combination of FIRST and LAST Solution – The combination of these two solutions would attack all of the necessary problems: it educates women, creates more job opportunities for farmers and educators, eliminates pesticides from the production of gruel and makes it more marketable.

IMPLCATIONS OF SOLUTION

  • Women can protect their children
  • We would want to start with a small population whose health clinics have the infrastructure, time and money to screen mothers for HIV
  • Women will know their HIV status, minimizing the HIV transmission rates
  • Provide education on what steps they should take if they have been diagnosed HIV positive
  • Supporting the local economy
  • Creates social mobility
  • Educate farmers on how to grow top quality produce without pesticides

 

 

PART 2:

FACTS AND LOGIC

  • Business is thriving
  • Women work for nine hours a day and make about $3
  • Women save time traveling to market (and $)
  • Happy with the coop and the sense of identity
  • Women turn over their money to men in the family
  • Men waste the money
  • One of seven members of the leadership council
  • Have six months left on the committee
  • Committee wants things to change
  • A patriarchal society where men have say on money
  • Though the cooperative is thriving, it is not achieving the twin social outcomes of improving the nutritional status of children and the livelihoods of rural households.

STAKEHOLDERS AND MOTIVATIONS

  • Cooperative women
    • Personal: they want the money to be used for their children. If they speak up, they might be subjected to domestic abuse.
    • Professional: they want their hard-earned money to be put into good use.
  • 7 women on committee
    • Personal: they want their fellow women to have control over their paycheck because “girls stick together”
    • Professional: same thing but as committee members, they want to do what’s best for the cooperative
  • You as the entrepreneur
    • Personal: the morally good person in you just wants equality
    • Professional: you want the grant that went into creating the cooperative to be used wisely
  • Children:
    • Personal and professional: they want and need healthy food to grow up healthy
  • Husbands, brothers, fathers
    • Personal and professional: they want that extra pocket money to spend on useless shit that will give them a good reputation among their men friends and have that cultural capital for socializing.
  • Grant donors
    • Personal: they want to empower women
    • Professional: they want their money to be used well.

SOLUTIONS

Potential Solution: The choice to take a certain number of gruel products and $ per day

  • How does it solve the problem?
    • Pros: controls money flow going home, gives women choice to just take food for kids if that’s what they want and is needed
    • Cons: the husband might be angry that not as much money is coming home
  • How does it save face of those involved?
    • Gives mothers the option to what they want without confrontation with husbands
    • Implications on relationships
    • Short-term: confused husbands, might be frustrated
    • Long-term: adjusted, even distribution of food for kids and money for family when needed or want it
  • Implications on the venture
    • Short-term:  supports women instantly for wants
    • Long-term:  further advertise food in local community

Potential Solution: Women receive vouchers instead of money. The vouchers can be used to buy coop food

  • How does it solve the problem?
    • Pros: Money gets spent on food for the children, women in control of voucher and how it gets spent
    • Cons: Husband mad that there isn’t any extra money coming in, the voucher can’t be put towards other goods needed (can only get food), does not support women selling food in markets (only within the co op)
  • How does it save face of those involved?
    • Puts blame of money distribution on the co-op, not the women
    • Implications on relationships
    • Short-term: women are protected from unfortunate consequences
    • Long-term: animosity and backlash
  • Implications on the venture
    • Short-term: ensuring women are getting food to feed their children
    • Long-term: principal-agent problem and company store logic

Potential Solution: Have events where the women can bring their kids to work and pay for the kids’ lunch out of their wages — “Daycare”

  • How does it solve the problem
    • Pros: women will be able to pop in and see their kids, the kids will have access to nutritious food, the women will have control over some of the money to feed their kids
    • Cons: school aged kids might not be able to participate because of school
  • How does it save face of those involved
    • The women won’t have to stand up to the husbands but still make sure their kids get good food
  • Implications on the venture
    • Short-term: could potentially be a financial burden to pay for caretakers/find space to house a lot of kids
    • Long-term: shows that the venture is very family oriented, doesn’t separate women from their children, makes sure that their employees families are well fed

SEEK ASSISTANCE

https://www.azurihealth.co.ke/

https://www.pan-uk.org/health-effects-of-pesticides/

THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION

The best course of action would be to host a daycare. I chose this option because it saves face of the most amount of people. The women still get to bring home money for the husbands (won’t end up fighting about loss of wages) but they also get to spend more time with their kids during the day, and buy nutritious food for their kids as a mid-day meal. It also creates more jobs in the community and reflects positively on the co-op.

IMPLICATIONS OF SOLUTION

  • Same amount of wages
  • Some wages spent directly on meals for kids
  • Nutritious food available for kids
  • Able to visit kids during work day
  • Avoids confrontation with husbands

Grassroots Diplomacy Case Study

To start out, here are the facts of the case:

  • Jack is an American student working on a social venture in Kenya for 5 months
  • International donor organization donated gifts
  • Jack lives and interacts with kids at the youth center
  • Jack works with the staff at the youth center
  • Jack handed out gifts
  • Kids thought Jack provided the gifts
  • Jack was thanked for the gifts
  • Four children did not get gifts
  • Those four children got black hats unceremoniously 
  • Staff does not think there is an issue
  • Kids are resentful of Jack
  • Jack wants a good relationship with the kids and the staff
  • Staff thinks Jack is creating a problem out of nothing
  • Staff is worried Jack will act out of line

 

Here’s the problem: Jack wants to make a good impression on the children and the staff, but is in an uncomfortable situation as he is being blamed by 4 children for not giving them gifts. The staff is also worried about an outsider come in for a short period of time and criticizing them either rightfully or wrongfully about their professional choices. 

 

These are the stakeholders involved in this case:

Jack: He wants wants to be seen as a good person and for both the kids and the staff to like him. Since he will be working there for a long time, he wants to avoid an uncomfortable living and working environment filled with tension. 

Youth Center Staff: The staff doesn’t want an outsider (Jack) to look down upon their work. THey see the mishap with the gifts as a trivial matter. They want to keep good relationship with Jack to preserve relationship with his institution and not to let a trivial thing take over their valuable time and resources.

Kids that didn’t get gifts: They feel slighted by not getting gifts as ceremoniously as the rest of the kids. They want to feel just as important as the other kids

Kids that got gifts (secondary stakeholders): They might tease the other kids, they might feel more important

 

What are Jack’s options? 

Drop it and do nothing. Trying to resolve the issue makes it into a bigger deal than it has to be.

  • Pros: The issue doesn’t keep getting brought up, he would save face with the staff, the kids will probably forget about it over time,
  • Cons: The 4 kids may be upset
  • Implications on relationship: the relationship with the four kids may worsen, the relationship with the staff will remain the same
  • Implications on venture: the staff will continue to help them out with the venture

Jack wears a black hat: makes the kids feel special and that their gift is cool

  • Pros: makes the kids feel special and that their gift is cool, doesn’t require much effort and doesn’t require any awkward conversations
  • Cons: other kids that didn’t get black hats might feel left out, kids that did get black hats might not think Jack is cool so this does nothing

Give the 4 kids a bit of extra attention

  • Pros: doesn’t single them out in the eyes of the staff, gives them a little something to hold onto– they’ll feel special
  • Cons: other kids might feel left out if it’s not subtle enough, might feel like overcompensation

 

If I were in this situation, I would wear the black hat. I would be the only person involved so it doesn’t put a burden on the staff. This approach assumes that the kids think Jack is cool. I think that this is a valid assumption because in general, younger kids look up to older kids. I would probably only wear the hat for a couple days, but this would be enough for the kids to see it and feel a little special when they could match the cool foreigner.

Ethical Decision-Making

This week we were prompted with a scenario with the following facts:

  • There is a disease-causing pathogen in the research area that locals and researchers are both aware of
  • Over the span of 2 weeks, researchers (11 in total) want to test the water to understand the life-cycle and characteristics of the disease-causing pathogen
  • The affected community has 75 families and 500 people in it, with people traveling to the water sources frequently for water
  • The researchers would need help finding the different water sources, and getting information about where and how the water is stored
  • There are expectations that the research would be published
  • There are hoped that this research could help develop treatments for the water

One of the main ethical dilemmas that the researchers are facing include “is it ethical to conduct this study?” I think that it is ethical to conduct this study because there is almost nothing to lose by conducting this study and almost everything to gain. This study also does not directly study humans, so it faces a different level of scrutiny. Another ethical dilemma the researchers face is the question of “Are we exploiting people for their time and knowledge for our own gain in publication, notoriety, and the potential for impact?” and “Is it ethical to perform research without delivering some form of solution or aid?” To answer these questions, I looked into the stakeholders and their motivations.

  1. The researchers are interested in completing their research, getting their work published, and creating a social impact.
  2. The people drinking the water in the community are interested in safety, and increasing quality of life of the community members.
  3. The people who are helping the researchers find the water sources are interesestd in getting a clean source of water, safety for the fellow community members, but also some sort of perk or compensation for their help.
  4. The community health workers are interested in the research because the research could lead to water treatment that leaves their community healthier, they will be able to do more of their normal job (not as CHW), and they might get some prestige from working with a foreign source.
  5. The government is invested in this research because it will give them an increased knowledge base about their community, it could improve safety for their people, politicians can leverage this as political capital to gain votes, and it could be beneficial economically.
  6. The home research institution of the researchers is invested in this project because if the researchers are successful in getting published, then the institution will also get recognition for the work that their researchers completed.

 

Given all of the different stakeholders and facts about this research project, I think that the best course of action would be to go to the community leader and talk to him about the research project. The leader will be able to point out water sources on a map as well as connect you with good guides. The researchers would pay the guides the going wage for labor. This option would put the researchers in good standing with the community leader and encourage their guides to work well and thoroughly. It also would streamline the data collection process.  The only con I can forsee would be if the guides take longer than necessary to do their tasks.

Other solutions could be the following:

  • Potential solution: Compensation for time spent away from main source of income (pay for time lost—hourly rate almost, pay for an extra worker at the person’s job)
  • Pros: Works of a macro scale, people may be more willing to participate, we are easily morally justified in the eyes of peers back home
  • Cons: IRB may discourage compensation for participation in study, people may give us biased information, we need to develop a payment structure for the individuals helping us.

 

  • Potential solution: Not paying at all – the community can self-select who should come/who’s time it’s worth to spend on this
  • Pros: It gives the decision to the community members
  • Cons: You might not get someone who has the most insights, can help the most, or can speak the best English, might get someone who isn’t super invested

 

  • Potential solution: Offer to carry one of the jugs and tag along when the person is collecting their water
  • Pros: don’t have to pay, building camaraderie by working together not just alongside
  • Cons: people might still expect something, researchers might be imposing on a cultural thing—it might be the only time that the women get to spend time just with themselves, might limit the number of water sources the researchers get to see, takes time away from getting all of our data

 

Lessons Learned

  1. What are the top three things you learned during your GSIF trip this summer?
    • How to use Fusion360! This is a great tool to learn especially because it is a free program that I will be able to use on my personal laptop.
    • Being prepared. No matter what event, class, workout, or presentation you are about to go to, be prepared. During fieldwork, my team gave horrible presentations TWO days in a row. While I think we were able to salvage the situation at least the first day, I realize how hugely important it is to be on the same page as group members and to be properly prepared for things. This will help people look more professional and respectable.
    • When doing something as all encompassing as this type of project in such a compressed and intense schedule like fieldwork, it was really important to find a way to let out steam. Whether it be venting to a fellow team member or just taking a few minutes for yourself every once in a while to rest, its so important to give yourself a little time so that you can keep going for the whole 3 weeks of fieldwork.
  1. How did the GSIF trip facilitate your professional development?
  • Sometimes I let myself get talked over, but I learned how not to. Being confident in my ideas and my knowledge of the project was so important for this.
  • I learned how to stand my ground on an idea, but also concede to a legitimately better idea. I think that having the maturity to collaborate and not be offended if someone else had a better design than you is important in the workplace.
  • I took charge of getting the VentureWell proposal done, and this forced me to work on my delegation skills– which in turn will help me be a better leader.
  1. How did the GSIF trip help you grow personally?
  • I felt very privileged. For example, I am expecting a much higher starting salary than recent grads in the Philippines do. Here at Lehigh, we also have access to a state of the art design lab — a luxury I didn’t know wasn’t universal at all colleges and universities.
  • One of the things that I struggled with during fieldwork was keeping up relationships with my team members– and I think this was due to the fact that I didn’t put myself in their shoes. I didn’t take into account what they might be going through when I judged them on their work or performance. Moving forward, I am going to make an effort to understand people and delegate tasks that play to their strengths.
  • When working with the students at UPD, I realized how open and accepting they are. My cohort felt comfortable around them within the first 36 hours and became fast friends and great coworkers. I would love to take inspiration from that and be more approachable in my like back here in the states.

Week 13

Value Propositions: One Acre Fund is delivering education on modern techniques to farmers in remote areas of Sub-Suharan Africa on how to better and more efficiently grow their crops. They are pursuing this teaching because farmers in this region are often going hungry because they do not have access to this information. They are also selling a better life for these farmers and their communities since their children and families will not go hungry and they will put their money back into the community. These farmers will invest in education, local business, and will help neighbors in need. In addition, sustainable farming practices promise a better crop yield for future generations as well.

Key Activities: One Acre Fund is based on a bundle of services. They offer seeds, fertilizer and loans to rural farmers, and deliver these to areas in a walkable distance to any farmer. They give in depth training throughout the growing season on current agricultural techniques, and offer crop storage solutions. They also teach about agricultural market fluctuations so that farmers can maximize profits.This can happen because they place an emphasis on maximizing their “Total Impact.” They allocate funds to programs that have the highest impact, which they determine by multiplying the number of farmers by the impact per farmer. For most programs, they measure this by $USD per farmer, which is easily comparable across programs and is a valuable unit to farmers who are taking out loans. They have this information through intensive research and development, and are beginning to look at other metrics such as hunger and school attainment. One Acre Fund invests heavily in data quality by physically weighing crops, meticulously checking data integrity, and complete intensive harvest surveys. Their product development team is continuing to create and experiment with new products, and complete at least 40 studies every year. To maintain consistency in their programming across with wide range of geography their foundation covers, they tailor their programming to suit local context by collecting weekly key performance indicators (KPIs) to spot areas that are succeeding versus need assistance, and to identify areas where program learning is going especially well. They run customer service lines as well to provide farmers with a way to share their complaints, compliments and ideas with their staff.

Key Resources: Some of the key resources that One Acre Fund utilizes in their operations are the hundreds of trucks and drivers to deliver seeds and fertilizers to points within walking distance of their rural clients, the warehouses that store seed and fertilizer,  their employees, and research ventures. One of these studies is the Kenya Income and Expenditure Study. In this study they tracked income and expenditure of 400 farmers over the course of a year. This study is helping the Fund understand how their clients manage their money and is helping them gain insights on how to better serve their clients and their clients’ communities.

Distribution Channel: One Acre Fund uses a mixture of both virtual and physical channels. This way they are able to serve not only customers in their local communities, but a wider reaching audience. The services they provide to their farmers keep local customers loyal, and seeing their success and through recommendation causes neighbors or people in close communities to try their services.They use their trucks to deliver products to rural farmers.  They also have a website where anyone in the world can partner with their organization to donate to their fund.

Revenue Streams: One Acre Fund is able to operate based on a revenue-generating model. Their field expenses are covered through farmer loan repayment (75%) and donations (25%).

Customer Segments: Farmers in Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

Customer Relationships: This non-profit is able to maintain a good customer base by focusing on impact and outreach. When farmers see consistently improving harvests for One Ace Funds’ clients, the farmers will want to apply the same program to improve their yields as well. Once the Fund is fully established in a community, their influence is spread by satisfied customers recommending their services to their neighbors.

Key Partners: Internally, One Acre Fund has 17 general partners that are division and country directors from across the organization. They align around broad strategic goals, high level visions for the organization, and major organizational drives. They earn this distinction by significant contributions to the organization. They have country directors, who guide strategy for country-level operations. Their external partners are connected to a wide variety of businesses, non-profits, and charitable trust management. It includes Bridgespans Philanthropy Practice, Ezrah Charitable Trust and Simcah Management, Kickstart International, Marshall & McLennan Companies, Population Services International, MFK Group Rwanda, Volkswagen Group South Africa, Zoetis Inc, United Nations, Trademark East Africa, and Marquette Associates. Each of these companies have individuals set in an advisory role to help One Acre Fund both internally and to provide resources externally, and can offer guidance from a wide array of experience.

Cost Structure: In order to be able to function smoothly, One Acre Fund does incur some costs. These include paying the salaries of their employees (drivers, warehouse managers, country directors, operations analysts, etc), paying to rent and maintain warehouses that store the seed and fertilizers, paying for gas and maintenance for the trucks, and paying the initial loans that allow their clients to access seed and fertilizer. They also are able to improve their function by funding research that helps them gain insight into their clients finances.

 

Sources:

One Acre Fund – Income and Expenditure Study

https://oneacrefund.org/

https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/where-to-donate/one-acre-fund

https://www.guidestar.org/profile/20-3668110

https://www.guidestar.org/profile/20-3668110

https://www.emersoncollective.com/articles/2016/04/5-questions-with-one-acre-fund/

Week 10

List five take-aways from Guy Kawasaki’s talk and explain exactly how you will integrate that concept/construct/strategy into your project. Make it compelling. Don’t write generic forgettable text.

  • The 10/20/30 rule that Guy talked about was really helpful. It’s a really good guideline on how to structure presentations in a concise way. I think that it would also help us with being able to present better because if we put less words on the presentation (30pt font) then we would be more inclined to really know our material and not rely on the presentation
  • His confidence and charisma are thing that I want to carry into my project. He carried himself in a way that made you want to listen to him, and completely trust that he knew what he was talking about. I didn’t have any doubt in my mind that he was knowledgeable in his topic and I want my audiences to have that faith in me when I present in front of them or try to teach them things about my project.
  • Hiring people who are better than you. This really struck home with me because we are in the process of getting more people on our team. We had to interview applicants and make sure that they are qualified. We were able to follow this advice and get a grad student to join our team. She is very qualified and really passionate about this project.
  • Developing a mantra. I think that one of the things that we struggle with is figuring out exactly how to describe what it is that we’re doing. We have a lot of threads and sometimes it can be a struggle to bring it all together in a sentence or phrase. I think that a good mantra for our project would be something along the lines of “empowering women through plastic recycling.”
  • Just get it done. This mindset would be really valuable for our team to adopt. I think that we have a habit of waiting for someone (team member, team mentor etc) to tell us what to do next when we really just need to get the initiative to do the things that need to be done. We should stop waiting until the last minute to work on assignments (lol @me writing this blog post 2 hours before its due).

 

In partnership with one or at most two team members, present a business model canvas for your venture.

  • Customer Segments
    • Industrial materials buyers
    • Restaurant owners
    • Artisanal markets
  • Value Propositions
    • Recycled plastic goods (industrial, artisanal)
  • Channels
    • Markets
    • Agents?
  • Customer Relationships
    • Agents?
  • Revenue Streams
    • Payment for the products from the consumers
  • Key Resources
    • Machine plans
    • Availability of human workers
    • Availability of plastic
  • Key Activities
    • Production of goods with recycling machinery
  • Key Partners
    • Lehigh
    • UPD
    • Local government
    • Bishops Council
    • Plastic Industry Expert
  • Cost Structure
    • Payment for recycling plastic
    • Payment of employees
    • Cost to maintain the machines
    • Cost to maintain the facilities

 

Week 8

1. List ten non-obvious assumptions about your target customers (or organizations) that you need to validate

  • Customers will value products made from recycled material as equal or greater value as products made from non-recycled material
  • Customers will be buying the products locally
  • Organizations will want to partner with us to promote recycling
  • Customers will value these locally made products to support local business
  • **I had to stop here because I’m just not sure what are other assumptions we need to validate for this project. I hope that a little further on in the project we will be able to fill this out more but for right now, most of my efforts have been geared more towards how the machines work, what plastics are usable, and how to run a workshop.

2. List ten hypotheses about your project that you need to test during fieldwork.

  • The machines will work
  • We will have ample power to use the machines
  • We will be able to easily collect plastic waste to recycle
  • We will be able to make marketable products
  • We will have enough space to create products
  • There will be people willing to buy recycled/upcycled plastic goods either in an artistinal or industrial marketplace
  • The women we will be working with will be able to learn how to use the machines
  • The women working there will be able to harness their creativity and create new products
  • We will be able to make partnerships with professionals in the Philippines
  • We will be able get a good read on what products will be viable in a Filipino market

3. What do you think you bring to your team? How has your perception of your own strengths and weaknesses changed over the course of the class? Please be specific.

I think that one of the things that I bring to this group is commitment. When I first got involved with this project through my sustainable development class I didn’t know what I was getting into. However, since then, I’ve committed to an extra hour of meetings per week as well as the field work in the Philippines in July this summer. I am really passionate about the environment as well as womens’ rights so this project is right in my wheelhouse of what I want to focus on.

Before working on this project I always thought of myself as extremely motivated and proactive. I got almost straight As in high school and am a high achiever in classes and athletics. However, since starting a project that doesn’t have as many hard deadlines like traditional classes, I am finding myself start to have a hard time keeping up a good pace. Once the structure went away, I had a hard time adjusting to the new setup. I noticed this a few weeks ago, and to combat this I am taking some steps to combat this. Instead of waiting a week to ask Khanjan a question, I am trying to ask my questions immediately after coming up with them. I am also trying to be better about asking what to do next if I don’t know the next step.

 

Week 6

Does your work require IRB approvals?

I don’t think that my work in the Philippines will require IRB approvals. We are not researching people, we are working with them to set up a business venture. We hope to be able to collaborate with them to create high value marketable goods out of recyclable plastic waste found in the Philippines. This type of work, while requiring research into markets and the preexisting ecosystem of the plastics industry in the Philippines will not actually involve human focused research. The only scenario I can think of that we may need IRB approval is if we investigate more deeply into the women of the co-op’s lives. It is possible, if unlikely, that we go down the route and really dig deep into the lives of the women we are working with in an attempt to formulate our workshops in a way that can really harness their creativity.

Develop a Logic Model for your venture

The three main aspects of a Logic Model are inputs, outputs, and outcomes.

  • Inputs:
    • time planning our business
    • time researching plastic recycling
    • collaboration with UPD
    • time gathering information about the plastic ecosystem
    • recyclable plastics
    • machines (modeled after precious plastic designs)
    • the space our workshop will run in
  • Outputs:
    • creatavate at Lehigh
    • workshop in the Philippines
    • development of product design
    • high value marketable products
    • self-sustaining business
    • full-fledged diagram of the plastics industry ecosystem
  • Outcomes:
    • self-sustaining business
    • creative outputs of women in the co-op
    • reliable source of income
    • increased awareness about tackling the plastic problem
    • collaboration with new partners in the Philippines and the United States

Week 5

Based on your life experience, skills and interests, what would a design process that is both uniquely yours and effective look like?

When I’m presented with a problem that I don’t know the answer to, I almost always go to my friends or classmates and ask them how they would approach it. I like building off of what people have done and adding my insights to theirs and coming up with a new solution. I think that this comes from my lifetime involvement in team sports. In both ice hockey and rowing, its impossible to do anything by yourself. You need your teammates to make hockey plays and to race in the 8-man shells. I feel like I am most valuable when working in a team. I like dividing and conquering tasks to streamline work but also having periodic check-ins with a full group to get everyone up to speed.

How will you validate your project concept, technology, usability, operational / business model?

I would validate my project by showing that there are many people collaborating on my project. This would help give my project credibility because if there are more minds working on the same problem, there are more chances that people will catch any potential flaws. They would be able to look at the problem in different ways and see it in different lights. People of many different backgrounds can specify their focuses and really concentrate on small issues. Then when teams get together they can smooth over the seams between the individual issues. I think that I would validate the usability of technology by creating many prototypes and doing extensive testing with them.

Articulate your philosophy of engagement with communities, partners, and markets.

I think that the purpose of project, especially in this fellowship, is to benefit the communities. Since that’s such an important aspect of projects, I believe that the people involved with the project need to be completely transparent with the community. Project managers need to listen to those who live in the community and really understand their culture and needs before they can even start to formulate an idea of how to give them a hand up. Additionally, members of the community will be the ones taking over the endeavor so they need to be completely aware of what is going on. I think that it is equally important to be engaged with partners and the markets. Working closely with business partners is a really good idea because then there are more people invested in the success of the project. Additionally, staying engaged with the markets means that you have a good idea of market demands so that your product will be able to sell and your business will stay afloat.

Week 4

This week we had to cancel seminar because of the weather, but we all did the assignments on our own and answered questions after researching the given topics!

Give three examples of how you can use nature as a model / mentor / measure for your own designs (and life).

I think that one of the ways that I can use nature as a model for my designs is by using the shapes of things as inspiration. Spiders are pretty good at weaving webs that hold weight, so maybe that can help in bridge designs. Birds are pretty good at moving fast, so maybe that can help in the designs of high-speed vehicles like planes and trains. I could also use nature as a mentor in my personal life. One of the things that I tend to stress about in my life is how I perform in sports. As a Division 1 NCAA athlete, rowing takes up a lot of my time and energy. Sometimes I feel like its overwhelming. But one thing that I’ve internalized is how resilient humanity, and all of nature is. Evolution has fine-tuned species so that they are uniquely suited to their surroundings. Now all I have to do is put in the work and let my surroundings fine-tune me into an elite athlete. Basically, I think about nature as a mentor when my coach tells me to ‘trust the process.’

Pick one of Life’s Principles. Explain how you might apply it to your work and life (could be unrelated to your GSIF projects).

I think that the integration of cyclic processes can be applied to the plastics project. Not onl­­­­y are we trying to eliminate waste by actually using waste as our initial resource, but we also are just one player in a larger system who is innovating to fit new social needs. We take input from Lehigh students, UPD students, professors and mentors around the globe to come up with an idea to make a business by selling recycled products. Since there are so many people working on this project and collaborating with experts outside of the main research team, ideas flood in and evolve to become what is hopefully a successful business.

How do you envision integrating the Cradle to Cradle Design concept into your project (and life)? Give one compelling example.

The main idea that I took out of the Cradle to Cradle Design is that everything becomes a resource for something else. I think that this is a really interesting concept to apply to this plastic recycling project. As the project stands now, we are using plastic waste as our resource. We are using energy efficient (or that is the plan) machines to process this plastic waste into a marketable product. This shows how something (plastic) is a resource for something else (our products). But what are our products a resource for? Can they be turned into something valuable for our environment? The simple answer is that we aren’t sure. We know that once different types of plastics are mixed together in the recycling process that the plastic can’t be recycled again. Maybe this will lead us to being more diligent with separation of different types of plastic and then labelling our final products with their corresponding number.

Give three examples of something very interesting you learned from a friend that was a completely alien concept to you.

  • Maine is the only one syllable state. This may seem like a trivial piece of information, and it is. However, it shows how people tend to overlook the details. Like any other students in the United States I memorized every US state, but I never took the time to see how many syllables each has. What I took away from that is the following – something commonly overlooked could have important value in a project, or just as a fun conversation starter.
  • Discipline in new areas. Before meeting Maya, one of my roommates, I understood discipline in the sense of getting schoolwork done and performing well in sports. I never really thought about discipline in other aspects of life. Now, after being exposed to it, I developed the discipline to make my deb every morning, to go to bed at a ~semi~ regular hour, and to eat clean consistently.
  • In Wyoming, the boys buy their dates’ prom dresses. That is SO DRASTICALLY different from any other prom experience I’ve ever heard of. Some people might think that its sweet but to be honest I think that it puts pressure on the girls to find a date because if they don’t, then they’re dateless (which isn’t normally what people want) and they have to pay for their own dressed. It discourages girl gangs.