The week of the workshop

This week, we have organized a Demotech workshop with the Student Workforce. It is a student organization with students for the university of Maastricht, and it organizes activities for sustainability and development. This association was some years ago very involved with Demotech, helping Reinder and developing concepts with him, but now it is different. This workshop was an occasion to show its members what can be achieve and to discuss about the link that could be between Demotech and the Student Workforce.

The workshop started with an introduction of Demotech, its principles and its targets. We did so by presentating of the Hy2u, a hand-washing device for countries with water scarcity. During this introduction, to show to people that every inventions designed by Demotech can be realized with local tools, the participants have been given a feel how it is to use a machete to cut wood.

The presentation was very professional and the small workshop of cutting wood very nice for the 15 or so participants. Then a video has been shown of the implementation of the Hy2u in Ethiopia. In that video exactly the same method is used as just had been practised. I think that it really showed people that Demotech is really concrete and efficient.

In fact, I think we have to improve the image that people have from Demotech, and show that it is a professional and serious association, that really work hard to help people. Indeed, I have heard some people talking about Demotech as "it is an old men working with bamboos...". It is more then that: it is people involving in solving poverty, doing research to improve lives. I hope that all I did and all that will be done will give a better image of Demotech.

We are working on reorganizing the workplace for a long time now, and it will still take a long time because a lot of things has to be done, and we are only two people. But the workplace is really getting better, more pleasant to go through and visit, prettier, and above all more professional.

Well, for the workshop of Friday we organized three different workshops : Philip did the welding plastic, it is about how to joint plastic with a hot iron, to make a watertight bag... Reinder learned to participants how to make a three diameters wood-drill bit from a bicycle spoke. And of course I did the DemoUnits workshop!

So after the presentation, we split the participants in three groups and each of us gave them the D-tour, a tour around the Demotech place to present the workshop and the different inventions. It was the first time that I had to present a tour, I was not very at ease, because of my english speaking that misses the correct technical words and also because I don't really master the description of many of the prototypes. But it was a nice experience, and now I know that I am able to do that too.
The DemoUnits workshop was also nice. Among the four persons that were with me, three of them already know how to build DemoUnits, and they were a bit disappointed to do something that they have already done. So I have showed them something a little more complex: how to build a cube, that they didn't know yet. There was also a guy from Antwerpen, from the Occupy movement, a potential DemoUnits user. He was very amazed to see how it works.

After the workshops, people had to reflect about what we did in relation to three core questions: its political relevance, the cost involved, and the speed of learning. Each group had to present it to the others.

Well, for me this event was quite successful, people were happy to have done this, and as I said before, it gave a good and professional image of Demotech. Now, we have to think what it the next step with this workshop. I think we can organize this regularly, and even if less people than what we was expected come, the word-to-mouth will spread the news. We can learn people even more practical things, such as how to make their own furniture. There are a lot of workshop items that we can do. Another idea is also to make participants pay for this workshop, at least for the material but also for the service. In fact, Demotech needs to earn money if it wants to hire people. People like me !