Finnish Team First Blog By Bilen Gebremichael

This year’s ALM 2015 is part of the ongoing ALM project, which  started in 2012 with the coordination of Aalto University of technology, Technological Institute of Monterrey, Mexico City Campus, and National Autonomous University of Mexico. The overall concept of the project is to improve livelihood of the 20th de Noviembre village by creating a self-empowered and self-sustaining community. ALM 2015 labbers believe that this can be achieved by introducing the community with a set of system thinking that combines their historical and inherited strong values with technology. ALM 2015 labbers are seven student members from different disciplines and different cultural backgrounds working under one aim of improving the 20th de Noviembre living condition in a sustainable manner. Since the main idea of ALM is to collaborate labbers and experts from all universities, setting up communication medium and code was important. We have used Google drive, Facebook and Skype to share, store and exchange informations between labbers, mentors and experts.

We have started the project by getting all group members and mentors familiar with the overall objectives of ALM 2015 and going through the progress achieved and challenges faced during the project by the previous year labbers. Similar to other community empowering projects, our project has gone through series of difficulties during the preparation of the project plan. Defining the general objective and narrowing down these objectives in such a way that they can really be beneficial towards the community in practical matters were the biggest argumentative points among the labbers. However after going through the background research documents provided by Claudia Garduño thoroughly the misconceptions regarding the direction we should take were cleared enough to proceed to the next stage. Although there are various ways of approaching this project, we have come to a conclusion that we should start with addressing the two main problems the EI 20 community is facing: poor water quality and sanitation challenges and find solutions through participatory actions of the locals in co-creation and co-design.20150211_162654

Again similar to the recommendation of the previous year labbers and Claudia’s suggestion, we have come to an agreement that the whole idea of addressing water quality problem should first focus on preparing a well coordinated water testing mechanism in order to determine the basic source of high level of calcium and microbes in the drinking water. On the other hand concerning the sanitation problem, at this stage, the group is looking at introducing dry toilet to EI 20 community as a better alternative to address both the scarcity of water and poor sanitation system. In addition a meeting held with Zita Floret, an Aalto University student with dry toilet designing experience in one Tanzania pilot project, has given all the group members a great insight on how to approach sanitation challenges.

Further meetings with the likes of Alistair Fuad-Luke an Aalto University professor and experienced designer in HCD and Suvi Kajanmaa 2012 ALM labber were also beneficial for the group members in terms of introducing important human centric design ideologies in ALM project and providing further first hand information on the general overview of the project. In addition to these expert meetings, timely meetings were held with our mentors Anni Hapuoja and Elina Lehikoinen. During these meetings our mentors were briefed about the progress we have made, our future plans and challenges we have faced. The next step in our project is the field trip. All the labbers from the Finnish team are quite excited about the field trip and the new experience ahead. We will keep updating our stories and experiences so keep following this blog.

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