Monday, May 2, 2011

Labor Day Celebrations

Labor Day holiday today, which means no work. Yesterday, some of the Council staff and invited participants marched in the streets in support of workers. Back at the motel, where Council staff and others arrived to eat, there was a huge celebration. I gathered this from the hooting, laughing, and clapping. Too bad I missed it; I was busy preparing my chiwawa leaves for drying.

Like in the United States, workers are given due thanks and appreciation for running the government, the economy, public services, etc. So, we should all give ourselves a big pat on the back for being commemmorated in such an important holiday celebration.

The motel is hosting another conference, which I think is part of K-International. The organization is doing some work with HIV/AIDS education in Chipata District and have been lodging at the motel over the weekend. The restaurant was crowded and it was hard to tell if I was supposed to eat from the buffet or not. I got up early to eat breakfast, believing all of the participants had departed for their homes, but it turned out that the buffet had not yet been served. I hate getting worked up over food, but even when I ask the kitchen staff about my meal, I often don't get the answers. This has happened on a few occasions with large conference participants in the motel. I also hate feeling aggravated when I don't know how I am supposed to eat because when I feel that way, I often sound that way. At the same time, if I don't push, the motel staff do not accommodate. It would be nice to live in a house, either shared or my own. At least I would not be regularly sharing it with 60 other people and I would be able to cook as soon as I got home from work. I would also be able to prepare my own meals without having to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Last Friday, I sent off the comprehensive proposal plan for the squatter community to the Commissioner of Lands. I believe I had mentioned this project in a previous blog. I anticipate hearing from him in two weeks. I hope the three plans related to land valuation and upgrading are approved. That way, I can start working on discussing the details with other Council planners and finalizing the logistics. Grants, too, can subsequently be written to fund those projects.

The rest of my work is flowing along smoothly. I also just finished the first draft of the Excel training handbook, which was requested by one of the socio-economic planners. These trainings, so far, are aimed at sharing skills for studies of urban and peri-urban problems, as mandated under the Urban Planning Act. This Act replaces the Town and Country Planning Act and the Zambian government is seeking to implement this new Act at the district level. To that end, I am attempting to develop another training that orients the planning department at the Council of the legislative changes in planning approaches. I am having some problems with the structure of the training, as I don't want the contents to be redundant. Otherwise, I'll put people to sleep. My goal is to facilitate the transition of the way planning staff think about planning, shifting their thinking away from viewing planning as strictly a process about parceling and selling land and building regulations and towards thinking about it in terms of an integrated and comprehensive process. More about that in another blog.

I continue to fundraise for this placement. USD$2,000.00 is my minimum benchmark. If you so feel inclined, please send in your donations via the “My Fundraising Page”. Thank you.

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