We met at our headquarters, 16-168, at 9am as normal this morning and were without Amy for a meeting for the first time because she, in her own words, "somehow still has a full time job"! However, Laura Stupin, one of the chief organizers , took charge of the meeting and soon left her own inimitable stamp on proceedings with titles such as "Spanish Sage", "Entertainment Emperor", "Housing Headmaster" and my personal favorite, "Computer Czar" being assigned to the various organizers for the duration of the conference. The aim of assigning titles like this, and other less exciting ones such as "Venue Manager", is to attempt to make the conference run as smoothly as possible. One of the problems with last year's conference was essentially a lack of man power in terms of organization so hopefully we can rectify that in IDDS 2008 as we have a significantly larger group of people to draw on for help.
After lunch we were all sent out a copy of the titles and descriptions of the various projects that are in the pipeline for IDDS 2008. The list is currently at about twenty four but we are hoping to whittle that down to the most popular fifteen before the participants arrive. They will then have the chance to vote on the projects themselves and the likely number of project teams will be ten, similar to last year's summit, but with more people on each team. Reading about the projects certainly had the effect of making the 2008 conference seem a lot more real and a lot closer than we like to let ourselves believe!
Options at the moment for the projects include a Pedal powered Hammer Mill for grinding down charcoal, a low cost, self sustaining incubator for low birth weight infants in rural zones, Small-scale chlorination production and small scale micro hydro power. In particular, the past participants themselves were extremely excited by the range of the available projects and were looking forward to getting involved in making them happen this year. Deepa Dubey, a past participant and recent graduate in Product Design from the Indian Institute of Technology, told me that the project she worked on during IDDS 2007, a low cost refrigerator, actually went on to form the basis of her thesis even though she said "people thought I was crazy!".
We are currently working still working on getting visa's for some of the participants to get here, however. The vast majority of those involved are confirmed but a small minority are facing difficulty. We are hoping that this can be resolved as soon as possible as it would be a real shame for any of those potential participants to miss out on what looks set to be a hugely interesting four weeks. Tombo Banda, a past participant from Malawi, is our aforementioned "Entertainment Emperor" and it looks likely that the participants will have plenty to keep them busy even when they are out of the workshops. She has one idea for an event, the IDDS Olympics, that will surely be interesting if nothing else!
An intoxixating Irish liquer