Module 2: minutes

Gender Links Cottages, Johannesburg, 17-19 Feb 2015

Present: Tempi, Soso, Thabo, James, Patricia, Alexander, December, Samson, Thandi, Mduduzi, Victor, Jessica, Treve, Thabang, Jane, Fulu

Meeting documents (handed to participants):

  • Agenda
  • Assessment sheet for Assignment 2
  • Assignment 2 
  • Criteria for presentation of assignment 1
  • Digital literacies
  • Guidelines for presentation of assignment 2
  • Module 2
  • Planning mentorship meetings
  • CD with ppt and report on civil society engagement in the water sector, and history of SAWC

Summary of actions from this meeting:

JANE: distribute AWARD doc on participation (summary of law & policy that relates to participation)
MENTORS: write up tables of issues and questions. Columns are i) what is the issue, ii) do you have evidence, iii) do you need to know more (if yes, phrase as a question), iv) how can you answer your question (see p12 of module 2 handout).
JANE: put points on how to tell if knowledge is trustworthy on the website.
MENTORS: write up questions and send them to Jane after April mentorship meeting. She will share this with rest of research team. Say who will do what (either action-researcher, or another person e.g. student or someone else from anchor org – who might get paid from anchor org budget).
ALL: get revised assignment to Jane by end March
ALL get assignment 2 in on time (5 June) – this enables Jane to design a better module 3.
MENTORS: coordinate monthly mentorship meetings
ALL: group is responsible for posting weekly on facebook for one month: Western Cape (March); Vaal (April); Mariepskop (May); Eastern Cape (June)
ALL: bring all relevant docs to next module (see list p12)

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION:

Thabo: Appreciation of something we learnt during pre-course assignment and assignment 1
Jessica: welcome (esp to Victor, Treve and Fulu who weren’t at SL1).
Jane: explained name of SL2 and where we are in the diagram/map that outlines full course, as well as how it supports WRC deliverables (e.g. draft guidelines). She asked to please note concepts that sound foreign; we can then try to find a better word, e.g. knowledge networks might sound difficult but easier to say finding people who can tell us what we want to know. Draft agenda explained.

We are now at the place: “How has this come to be?” And in our presentations we’re answering: “What is happening?”

PRESENTATIONS:

Everyone received guidelines for presenting assignment 1 prior to this contact session. Participants encouraged to listen to each other and to give constructive feedback. This is to facilitate learning.
Guidelines for constructive feedback:

  • focus on what works first
  • be specific and clear not vague or general
  • provide feedback on something the person can change

For this exercise, on a piece of paper for each participant write down:

  • one thing done well and why
  • one thing the presenter can change (to improve)

Jane explained how the assessment form works.

Order of presentations:
Eastern Cape: Tempi, Soso
Western Cape: Thabo, James
Mpumalanga: Dr Mashile, December, Patricia
Vaal: Samson, Mduduzi, Thandi

DEVELOPING A CASE STUDY – by Victor Munnik
Only 5 things you have to do – I will present these then we’ll apply them to our case studies.

What do we mean by a case study?
Can be to get a degree but doesn’t have to be academic; it’s about presenting things in such a way that someone else can use it. It is a form of documentation

5 components of a case study:

  1. Why this case (an introduction) – why does it matter, why is it important. You are not giving the whole story. Need to look at it at a ‘high’ level. This includes promises of what you will present in the rest of the case study. You can include your approach.
  2. How do we know? Tell the validity of information – I read it in a book, saw it happened, heard it from someone who knows. If you don’t do this, you will be vulnerable and not believed. You need to explain your method, e.g. I grew up in this church.
  3. What is the evidence? Here we look for facts we can agree on. For example on nuclear power, can agree that there is a problem with energy supply at the moment, that it is expensive and takes a long time to build – and provide evidence to support these facts. Most of us do this naturally. But if we mix up this section with the next one (argument) our reader/listener will stop listening.
  4. What do we argue? This is analysis and building our argument – people might disagree with our argument, but it needs to be coherent and build on the evidence. We explain why we think this is the case, based on our evidence. You can quote other people’s arguments here. Need to go back to (1) why this case.
  5. What do we conclude (findings, recommendations and future research)? Summary of what has been said before, and then can include recommendations. Useful to include what you don’t know.

3 & 4 are different things and important to differentiate. As activists we often want to tell people what we think and mix up the evidence and the argument.

Discussion:
Qu: how does part 2 relate to the people that we originally talk to?
Ans: there are different types of sources; sometimes we have a hostile audience and need to show them exactly where our evidence comes from, so we include a bibliography at the end (interviews, internet sites, books)
Victor: talking re car-washer viewpoints – would you put this in 3 or 4?
James: 4 because they will argue their perspective
Thabang: 3 – these are facts that they are relating
Victor: if the car washers say “this is because the government hates us” – is this a fact or viewpoint?
Lots of discussion….it’s a fact that people believe this, and can use this as evidence to argue with government that lots of people feel hated. This can get unpacked in section 4 – we can report on the explanation and comment on it…i.e. as a writer/researcher/activist we might not agree with this, as we might have also received other explanations – the municipality might have given other reasons. Now it is helpful to go back to the people and give them the viewpoint of the municipality, which might help them.
December: what if I want to bring new thinking (theory) into a discussion, e.g. big bang vs biblical creation and I want to present a third point of view about human existence
Samson: we believe there is a tokoloshe but how do we bring this evidence out – we will meet this challenge in our case study.
Discussion: who believes and how do you believe, and what if things come in a dream. There are different kinds of knowledge
Jessica: where does theory or conceptual thinking come in? These also frame how we argue – e.g. a Marxist will have a different explanation to a spiritual practitioner
Treve: this is important also in the context of social learning – the methodology seeks to understand context first from the participants experience and then in assignment 2 you look outside the immediate context and through a knowledge network you can get perspectives on theory and bring this back to local context
Victor: the introduction is a useful place to play in – it has a summary of all the four steps – so include a sentence or two…this research is based on interviews and my personal understanding of spirituality; or this is an activist case study, or to contribute to Marxist theory. You can include your approach.
Jane: this is the method we’ll be using for assignment 3. So we are leading there

Victor – let me ask some questions:

Eastern Cape:

why do you want to do this case?

Tempi: our case is for small scale producers to have access to water for food production. It is important because in the Eastern Cape there is a high rate of poverty, land is lying unused (fallow), government grants are insufficient to feed residents at household level. Through this change practice there will be some maintenance and improvement of infrastructure that is there, so it contributes to a productive Eastern Cape.

Where does your knowledge of the situation come from?
From small scale farmers through interviews and their engagement in meetings – they raise these issues, so we are following one of them that is key – the water access issue.

Are you following one person only, or comparing?
White commercial farmers are productive and making a livelihood and black poor farmers have no access to water for irrigation purposes.
You are now in 4 – how do you know this is the situation of white farmers?
Read it and other sources of info, e.g. institutions like Fort Hare and Fort Cox who have existing research findings.
You make an important point: there are sources that can provide a short cut; you don’t have to do work that others have already done.

Mpumalanga:

I want to work between evidence and argument. Dr Mashile your presentation was an excellent overview that can all be part of an introduction. In Mariepskop there is a land claim, a decision to convert from plantation, an initiative to put in another plantation. Which part would you put in evidence and which in argument?
Alex: the argument is that government is not releasing the land as stated through the land claim commission. Some communities are saying they’re gaining from the plantations, others say no, we need to go back and stay there. So it is difficult for government to say to whom do we give this land.
This is interesting: the way you are doing it is to start with an argument of the way forward (to continue or not continue with plantations). Then go back to…some people say this (there is evidence that they say this) then I look for reasons that they say this and see if these are good or bad reasons, so then go back to people…jump back and forth between 3 & 4. There is a complicated situation where people want different things.
Comment: It also raises questions around policy: e.g. that government doesn’t know what to do when a community is divided, or there are different interests. These case studies will also draw collective lessons for us as SAWC that we can make arguments at policy level.

Section 3 will also include a description of conflict and points of tension.

December: if you look at the document, you will see it talks about a strategic clearance (in Mariepskop).
You need to say WHICH document otherwise listeners have no idea if they should take it seriously.
December: The exit plan for Mariepskop.
There is a plan and people aren’t following it. Are they supposed to be following it? Is it a plan or a law?
Saw need to strategically clear plantations to release water downstream. And no one will disagree with this (CPAs or Trust) – at least the clearance along rivers is a law.
We need to find out whether that document is binding, and if it is who is responsible for implementing it? So when looking at your sources, you must really look at it – what is its status and power.
At times not proper consultation was made with the communities.

Samson: can you quote the constitution as evidence, or argue from it? What can you use it for? E.g. state not using the constitution to empower traditional users to be part of the process. Participation. Gender.
Mduduzi: if we use Bill of Rights, section 24 right to healthy environment?
Victor: very useful to use for media – get the bill of rights and find the sections you need (24, 27, etc.). Constitution on participation: Ch 10 section 195. You can also argue from policy (NWRS2).

ACTION: JANE to distribute AWARD doc on participation (summary of law & policy that relates to participation)

Victor: my conclusion: these tools are meant to HELP you not restrict you – use my 5 points as a check list.

LINKING CASE STUDIES TO MODULES AND ASSIGNMENTS:
Jane: take us back to what we’re doing in this course, what Victor has told us, and how far we are getting. If you think about the pre-course assignment, module 1, and assignment 1; which of these do you think we’re addressing already?

2 – policy docs, meeting attendance
3 – the assignment guide helped us to gather the evidence e.g. interview with informants and photos.
1 – traditional healers not involved and we want them to be involved

Alex: the word change means different things to different people; for me it means making things better; and people expecting me to change things for them.
Victor: with ‘change’ need to include ‘agency’ and ‘context’
Thabang: also about how far this change initiative could involve people in your communities, e.g. do you work through your provincial caucuses or with your traditional healers; and how that relationship plays out – are they part of the processes you undertake as part of this project, are you extracting info or are they part and parcel of bringing about change.
Alex: then we go to historical aspect of looking at Chieftan house in the village.
Jane: we’re discussing issues of actors, agencies, structures and power – and how we perceive them. Really interesting discussion because happening in many different places.
Jessica: need to keep asking and answering the question: why this case – can be different for each person in the province, but also needs to be clear what the relationship is between the people (social learners) in the case study area – and perhaps a common ‘why this case’ for each province.

Victor: Does writing help you think or make things harder?
James: helps me think, to refer to what I’ve written, and do some deep thinking
Thabang: it does help, if I didn’t write the story wouldn’t exist – brings stuff that needs to be shared with other people – and getting constructive feedback also helps with thinking
Alex: you can laugh at yourself – how I was when I wrote that – and can improve on things and see your own personal development
Samson: I’m a bad writer but I did a similar research with Benchmarks and has helped me in terms of my writings – try to differentiate between practice and what I’m observing, and do free-writing. So I have this in my notebook and I can refer to it when doing my assignment.
Tempi: process of self-education, it builds your way of thinking and makes you research more on the subject matter you’re dealing with.
Thabo: writing is a process and gives you the space of stepping back (vs talking is instant); writing is a healing mechanism because you get out your emotions around your research
Fulu: process of development in writing and research skills.
Useful as process of writing and recording along the way – do lots of writing that you don’t show to anyone. Writing is part of research.

MAPPING OUR ISSUES:
Jane explained how Victor’s input links to the map/diagram of the SL process and assignments.

Step back and reflect on what the evidence I’ve come up with is and what that tells me about my case study. On Thurs we’ll take it forward and see if this evidence is enough, or do I need more.

  1. Work in case study groups with a facilitator:
  2. Draw a map of your area…. (see exercise p7 of module 2 handout)
  3. Write down all issues from your two assignments
  4. Prioritise those that relate to the case study – which are the most important (you can combine issues). Put these on the map
  5. Is there evidence for these prioritised issues? If yes, what is it….

See example in module 2 handout where Jane used December’s assignment as an example.
WC – Jessica, Thabo, James
Mariepskop – Victor, December, Alex, Patricia
Vaal – Treve, Samson, Mduduzi, Thandi,
EC – Thabang, Soso, Tempi

DAY TWO: FIELD TRIP TO THE VAAL
Venue: VEJA office, 10am

Agenda

  1. Introduction and welcoming – Skhumbuzo Tyani
  2. How the course is linked to VEJA work – Samson Mokoena
  3. Tour visit to Boipatong informal settlement where community lives in the wetland (challenges on sanitation and water for domestic use) ; impromptu stop at Sharpeville pump-station on the way back to VEJA.
  4. Lunch – Nando’s
  5. Jane:
    feedback on assignments – how did participants find them plus comments from Jane, including a reading from Thabo’s assignment that illustrated how to reflect on context and develop a narrative.
    report back on our maps from day 1 (10 mins per province)
    Water Practice (ritual on baptizing) with the William Saint Paul Apostolic Church, 5pm. This didn’t happen as planned; we met at the pastor’s house and he said that the municipality had notified him that sewage had been discharged into the Vaal and they shouldn’t use it for emersions.

Jane’s comments on assignment 1:

  • Each assignment feeds into the next one so if you don’t finish the first one you are going to have a lot more work later on in the course.
  • I encourage everyone to write as much as possible. Victor’s question, ‘why do we write?’ yesterday gave us a lot of insight into the importance of writing.  During your mentorship sessions I encourage you to read your writing to one other person and help each other.
  • Some of the participants answered their assignment as if it were an exam question. The sections in the assignment instruction sheet are just to give instruction on what you need to do for your assignment not how you need to write your assignment. I encourage you to write your assignment as if you are writing an explanation to each other. See the other course participants as your audience.
  • Almost all participants included as their narratives of practice the interview questions and answers to these questions verbatim.  What you need to think about is: is this the best way to tell a story of person you spoke to? See examples of Thabo and James assignments. Thabo told a story about meeting each person and what they said. He wove into their story his observations and things he had read. James wrote up the stories as photo narratives. He included a picture and then described the picture and what the people he had interviewed had said. You can do this or you can follow the guideline headings that we gave you with the assignment.
  • Only one assignment was complete. Each section of the assignment has an assessment criteria so if you don’t complete it I can’t assess you on a criteria which reduces your chances of passing.  In particular, all except one participant did not answer the section asking you to reflect on your learning.  This is an easy criteria to pass so it is a mistake not to try to answer it.
  • Remember you need to pass all your assignments to pass the course and you need to get half of the criteria at the level of good to pass.
  • The assessment criteria are there to help you. We are not assessing you on something secret so if you read these criteria you can check for yourself whether you have met them or not. If you don’t understand any please contact me and I will explain them to you.
  • You will all have a chance to re-write your assignment. The due date for this is end of March.
  • Simple skills to improve writing: a) Write, write, write b) Use spell check c) Ask someone to read it or read it aloud to yourself.

DAY THREE:
Jane started the day with a recap of where we are and then…what will happen today (see module handout). We’ve come from local context, and now looking beyond, making sure that we connect to the case study being held by the anchor organisation.

BUILDING A KNOWLEDGE NETWORK (theme for the day)
What is it? It exists between people. We create knowledge together. (Analagous to FaceBook, which is a social network, that grows and we start learning more about our connections as time passes). Knowledge is about dialogue. You are already part of knowledge networks. We (in this course) are a knowledge network.

Add column to table (see p11): Question on what you need to know more about

Eastern Cape questions:

  • What is the quality and quantity underground water?
  • What is the quality of land?
  • What is the govt plan wrt to resuscitating old infrastructure?
  • What is the govt policy that regulates medical waste disposal?
  • What causes water cut-offs?
  • What is govt plan to repair leaking stand-pipes?
  • What is the govt policy that regulates solid waste management?
  • How much is budgeted for rainwater tanks for 2015?

Suggested additions and comments:

  • What are people already doing to secure water for food production, especially wrt rainwater harvesting and water management
  • How does the regional office operate wrt food production? (problem is that only national office seems to know the policies)
  • Try to link the qu’s on solid waste & medical waste to water protection – e.g. how does govt policy on medical and solid waste protect or threaten water resources (ground & surface)
  • Two main streams: i) what are people currently doing around water protection and use and ii) what are govt policies and practices that affect this.

Dunoon questions:

Case study description: How the City of Cape Town’s water demand management approaches affect people at the local level and how we (WCWC) engage to co-create a better approach.

  • What do small business and households do to secure the water they need?
  • What is the main source of the water lying in the streets?
  • What does a household need to fix its own leaks?
  • Why is the City installing WMDs in Dunoon?
  • What is the extent of WMD, and the City’s plan to increase, installation in Dunoon?
  • What is the population of Dunoon; what is the investment in infrastructure and what is the type of infrastructure? [Is the infrastructure appropriate and sufficient?]
  • What is the demographics of Dunoon wrt unemployment, income (differentiate wrt age, gender)?
  • What is the relationship between title deeds, billing, WMD, household residents?
  • How does the City select, train and regulate people who are installing devices?

Suggested additions and comments:

  • Try to group them around some bigger key questions, and see who will do what
  • There are additional resources to support our questions (e.g. Londeka, WCWC, EMG)

Mariepskop questions:

Issues:

  • Conflict between Trust and CPA land claims – some want plantations; others don’t.
  • Plantations use more water; they impact downstream
  • Impact of plantations on grassland wetlands and impact on medicinal plant availability
  • Plantations practice (erosion, oil leaks, herbicides)

Qu: how directly does downstream reduction influence ecosystem services and traditional healers?

Qu: how do plantations impact downstream flow?

Comments:

  • Lots of existing research on impact of plantations, esp wrt change in soil moisture and its impact on plants and animals (Treve = knowledge resource on this)
  • Lots of ecosystem studies focus only on natural system; but important also to look at peoples’ real live stories in relation to ecosystems and other species.
  • There may be ecosystem services that at are potential but not yet used
  • This study will help people understand a broader case of what monoculture does in the world
  • You can documents your own stories as well, e.g. from your childhood to now – e.g. observations ito changes to sacred spaces

Vaal questions:

Issues:

 

  • Spiritual water users (SWU) invisible to government
  • Relationship between SWU and public forums
  • Knowledge and awareness of water quality – can we share with both parties
  • Knowledge and awareness of the forums by SWU
  • How can we approach interested and affected parties (as VEJA)?
  • How does pollution affect the users?
  • How do we (VEJA) enable spiritual water users to participate?
  • How do we do research in such a way that facilitates trust and open communication; and to unleash mutual understanding between VEJA & SWUs
  • What are the river access problems? Where are the sites? ACCESS
  • What is the state of the river? What do the users experience? What do they know? What can be done? POLLUTION

Comments:

Qu: what about links with governance – public institutions, common understanding there?
Ans: There may be mistrust between VEJA researchers and SWUs? Maybe we should talk to associations of spiritual practitioners
Your questions are interesting as have two components: i) social qu wrt trust & research; and ii) content/issue aspect. This will really help with the guidelines – how do we build trust?

ACTION: MENTORS to write up tables of issues and questions. Columns are i) what is the issue, ii) do you have evidence, iii) do you need to know more (if yes, phrase as a question), iv) how can you answer your question (see p12 of module 2 handout).

WHERE WOULD YOU FIND THE THINGS YOU ARE LOOKING FOR?

  • Ask each other
  • Municipality documents
  • Government officials
  • Internet esp statistics, water quality, state of environment report, govt policies
  • Research institutions
  • National & international studies, including talking to researchers
  • Books
  • Elders in communities and institutions
  • Contextual stories we have from people
  • Knowledge in nature – and our relationship to it
  • Social media
  • NGOs

HOW DO WE KNOW IT IS USEFUL?

Will be useful if it makes a change or an impact; user friendly; when it relates to the context; when it helps answer my question and those of the people that I work with; when it makes meaning for the people we work with. You can get lost in information that is not practical and is very general.

HOW DO WE KNOW IT IS RELIABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY?
When many people have the same knowledge about it within the community. This provoked a lot of discussion…e.g. I grew up knowing cats are a witchcraft vehicle, but learnt not true elsewhere. Can ask – is this shared and where is the evidence?
When it’s personal and meaningful to me.
Influence is another factor; especially when you move from one community to another and get conflict between different forms of knowledge.
You need to question knowledge a bit – where does it come from. Do I trust this person or organisation? Does it have a good reputation for a particular kind of knowledge? Is this info used by other people, and what is their credibility?
Knowledge is value-based and culturally specific
Ask why is this person making this argument – what is in it for them; and what is their motivation?
Is it an opinion, and is it a case based on evidence?
Knowledge comes from personal experience? E.g. you can ask Mark Shuttleworth about space (because he was there)
This links to Victor’s input on how to develop a case study.
Treve: you can check reliability of a website by clicking on small icon next to http – this should tell you who owns this site and provide a certificate of registration.

ACTION: JANE to put points on how to tell if knowledge is trustworthy on the website.

Jane gave an example of tracking sources of knowledge – people, books, websites – the researcher documented what it was & contact details, how she received that name/resource and a brief description of what she learnt from the conversation/document.

ASSIGNMENT TWO AND MENTORSHIP:
See handout on assignment 2
One of the organisations you talk to needs to be a government department. Take detailed notes (for yourself) of your conversation; but you only need include summary in your assignment.
Everyone should ask their anchor organisation to buy them a file. In this file, keep all of your notes, including a detailed write-up of each interview as well as documents you’ve read that you found helpful.

See handout on planning mentorship meetings
Try to include someone from your anchor org, or from the research team to join you.
Resource people:

  • Mpumalanga (Victor);
  • Vaal (Victor);
  • Eastern Cape (Thabang/Jessica);
  • Western Cape (Jessica/Thabang/Treve).

If the resource person can’t come to your mentorship meeting, you should alert them that it is happening and give them feedback.

ACTION: After April mentorship meeting, mentor writes up questions and sends them to Jane. She will share this with rest of research team. Say who will do what (either action-researcher, or another person e.g. student or someone else from anchor org – who might get paid from anchor org budget).
ACTION: PLEASE get assignments in on time (5 June) – this enables Jane to design a better module 3.
These mentorship meetings will really help as will go to our work plan. Mentors are really coordinators of these meetings; we are all mentoring each other.

LOGISTICS & COMMUNICATION:
SL Website: almost up and running. All materials from these courses will be put there. Stories will be put up there.

ACTION: a group is responsible for posting weekly on facebook for one month.

  • Western Cape (March);
  • Vaal (April)
  • Mariepskop (May)
  • Eastern Cape (June)

The idea is to report on something you’ve done in relation to the SL project and to initiate a conversation. You can post any month, any time – just a MINIMUM of once a week for your month.

Anchor organisation: these groups have R55k to support this process – the budget needs to be clear and sent to EMG; and a brief report on how the money has been spent. All travel claims for SL meetings will go through anchor orgs, and EMG will reimburse via the anchor org.

Next SL session: People prefer CT to Joburg. Everyone is happy to contribute some of their anchor org money to meet in Mariepskop – this is the preference. EMG will decide venue based on peoples’ preference together with costs and budget availability.

Everyone went away and scheduled their mentorship meetings:

Eastern Cape (Zingisa board room or out in field):
16 March, 14 April, 6 May

Mariepskop (venue and time tbc):
18 March, 15 April, 20 May

Vaal (10am, VEJA office):
10 & 17 March; 3 & 17 April; 5 & 25 May

Western Cape (EMG office or Dunoon advice office)
6 & 27 March; 7 & 29 April; 5 & 27 May
Second meeting of the month is ‘catch-up’

ACTION: To bring to next module (where we will bring our case studies together):

  • All modules (written material that Jane gave us)
  • File of evidence (everything you’ve been collecting – stories, evidence, notebooks; newspaper articles, website links, etc.)
  • Your stories of people you have interviewed
  • Your photographs (your anchor orgs can help you print them)
  • Your assignments (pre-course, assignment 1 and assignment 2)
  • Any other research that others have done (e.g. you might have contracted someone to do research for you)

REFLECTION:
Participant reflection
Free write your reflections:

  1. Name at least 2 things about this course that you found useful and why
  2. What did you find challenging and why
  3. Your happiest (or WOW!) moment on the course and why

Everyone wrote these down and handed them to Jane.

Team reflection: free conversation (after other participants had left to catch their transport)
Thabang:
Participants are getting excited about it; it has a great potential for empowering people with the necessary skills. All the case studies that people are doing are about real situation and context. The assignments relate to peoples’ day-to-day work and can get taken up. Has potential to make things happen. Ito:
Western Cape – because of WDM campaign, we can be more active there. Be good to make more time in WCWC meetings for them to present in details.
Eastern Cape – have lost the connection with the EDE because of Ntsika’s absence. It could have helped a lot to get things happening there. With Nomasomi and Tempi, I will be active with them and help them do presentations to the caucus
Mpumalanga – also encouraged them to feedback to MPWC and have a discussion around it.
Vaal – good that Samson is here; Mdu is very excited about the project – he’s learning things, and new skills.
It might have been good…to invite David van Wyk…who has done monitoring in Witbank – be good to have his input on monitoring of water resources. VEJA could do this (invite him as a resource person) and then share that with the rest of the group.
Some of the questions I wrote on the first day were related to how people would take forward some of the issues. E.g. what form of activism is already on the ground and how are they involved in taking it forward. E.g. we’re planning a workshop in Dunoon – they should prepare a presentation for this.

Jane:
Purpose is to mirror back what people already know and clear way to make a decision re what next. For example developing pamphlets – need to check the usefulness of this to people – helps if they can see their own stories in it. Course came out of how to develop a good knowledge resource – everyone said don’t waste your time unless you ‘mediate’ it with a real live person and there is a reason for it and relevant for that context. Based on the understanding that knowledge is developed in dialogue and together.

James:
I like the idea of developing a pamphlet with people together, e.g. about a WMD. The existing municipal pamphlets are not helpful. And no one was available in the municipality to explain them.

Jane:
Even in the resources that came out of the last course, people included issues they couldn’t solve (e.g. needed rainwater tanks and couldn’t afford them) – this becomes a discussion point.
Really enjoyed these 3 days – 2nd module always more enjoyable; 1st one is confusing for many people and once they’ve ‘practiced’ a bit then everything is more familiar. People get more excited. Really enjoyed having co-ofacilitators (Jessica, Treve, Thabang, Victor). I’m still a bit worried about some people and where they are; and I don’t know how to do that without putting them on the spot. So need to find a way to make people speak.

Discussion:
This can get helped by breaking ‘default’ and ensuring that people take turns presenting. Can also mentor people in small case study groups. And can create a safe space with short input on fear of speaking, active listening, etc. There is also a gender dynamic – men were generally reporting back; women need to be encouraged to come forward and men to stand back.

People really liked this space (GL Cottages).

Be good for people to have time for themselves to write; to read through the module and think. Doing some relaxation or bringing in another skill – e.g. writing, speaking skills, DVD screening. Maybe run the sessions in an afternoon, 2 full days and a morning – travelling there in morning and back in afternoon. Better to be in a guesthouse than a hotel.

Thabo:
Course is worth it – its forming the skeleton of activism. Normally we focus on issues, but doing these assignments we think and are more conscious of the work we do anyway.

Treve:
Last time a very diverse group of participants; this one has some common focus. Interesting tension here – I tried to read all the WRC documents and see there are multiple objectives and I was aware of a tension between guiding participants towards a case study that has rigour and supporting a learning journey at the same time. I chose to be a scribe at one point in the small group– this placed me at the centre of the learning and it should have been one of the learners.

Discussion:
These are context specific case studies – these must be useful for the people developing them; and then we keep an eye on making them relevant to others in the caucus.

Could participants present not only their assignments, but also the process they’ve gone through to get there (method). E.g. did they meet with community & provincial caucus – how did these play out. It would be great if all could present to the national water caucus.

It would have been good if we’d reflected a bit yesterday on our trip to the Vaal. E.g. in EC some of the issues weren’t directly related to water, but there are impacts from e.g. bad waste management. People are learning more broadly about environmental justice. Can use free writing for this – to reflect on each exercise or field trip. A constant reminder of reflection is really important because it is not a natural practice. (Although on last course someone said had been too much reflection). Good to mix individual and group reflection. Reflections are a really good way to understand where each person is at, and what they’ve learnt.

Jessica:
Some cohesion and coming together of issues and people. Feels like there is depth growing within people and within the caucus. We are growing the caucus!

Treve:
Lack of cohesion in case study not just from a research angle but also about structure, which can focus and can bringing the activities they’re already doing together.

Discussion:
Tension between ‘top down’ indicators and peoples on-the-ground realities – is this a real tension? It has mixes.

I wonder how we used to have mass meetings with no phones! Maybe people communicated better back then.

Assignment