Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rizzo (Network)

Rizzo REK Style--It’s been a very busy week. We had our marketing/logo workshop with the women of the Coop last Thursday and I came away even more excited than I was when we started. I did a “Marketing 101” workshop upfront (in Darija-verbal, as only 2 of the women can read), and the women knew that our objective was to develop a logo for them. I arranged for Fatima Kamal to join us (to be honest, I scheduled the workshop around her availability) to serve as a translator. I also invited my artist friend Jess, from Sefrou, to facilitate the input part of the workshop for design of the logo. Fatima had a great idea for us to all to walk over to the REK artisanal museum one of her associations had set up to see some weavings representative of regional patterns. OK, last I understood, she was part of an assoc. that had a building and an idea-little did I know that they already had their display set up!. Nice. Then we went back to the Coop, where some other women had made tea and had cookies for us (to go w/the refreshments Fatima brought and I brought-no good discussion can be done w/o tea and sweets in Morocco). We had a lively, interactive discussion for about 2 hours. The women tossed out ideas on what they want ADWAL (Adwal means connectedness) to represent, and colors that symbolized those adjectives to them. Jess will take this input back to Sefrou with her and work up some design and color options, which we’ll present to the coop in a couple of weeks for them to decide what they want. After all, we want the design to be theirs-for them to have a strong sense of ownership and hopefully pride with what we’ve come up with together. I’ll then be shopping around for pro bono graphic art help for final design that can be used across multiple media. My friend Tammy in the states has already offered for us to try to work with the graphic designer she uses for her business. What words did they come up w/to represent the Taeawniya ADWAL? Fresh, Artisanal, Communal, Quality. The traditional colors of the area include brown, grey, white, black and gold. Inshallah we’ll have a logo within the next month. After that, we’re on to developing marketing materials-brochure, business cards and catalogue-they have nothing right now.

Rizzo Sefrou Style—The next day Jess and I headed to Sefrou where we had “couscous Friday” lunch w/Hyat, Sarah and Nate. I wanted to introduce Jess and Sarah to Hyat. Both Jess and Sarah have big projects starting up in Sefrou and Hyat is very well connected to the community, and she’s volunteered her help to both of them. Hamdullah. Then ran into Jonathan (PCV) at the Artisana and he and I went and had tea at Amina Yabbis’ house. So Amina Yabbis. Think sparkplug. Been trying to meet her since I got to REK, but she’s a very busy lady-has her hands in all things artisanal in the Sefrou region. A group of women got up and left as we came in for tea w/men from the Sefrou Artisanat Assoc. When we left, another group of women were coming in for tea. I think it’s called “holding court”, and Amina can do it with the best of them. Great to finally meet her-my coop wants her help w/a natural dye workshop. So then as I was off to meet up w/Jess before heading off to Fez, but she had friends in town from Fez that she wanted me to meet. More networking-turns out Paul has been in International Development all his career-and is in the process of setting up an eco-tourism assn in Fez and wanted to get in contact w/Peace Corps. Not only can I help him w/that, but got him invited along the next day w/Jess to meet Fatima Kamal who is key to networks in the region. Hopefully that’s paid off for all of them.

Rizzo Midelt Style—Spent Fri night in Fez so I could be on a 6:30am kiran (bus) to Midelt to arrive in time for lunch. 6 hours later I was in Midelt, on the south side of the Middle Atlas Mountains. I’ve blogged earlier about the public transportation in Morocco, given the low rate of automobile ownership. Well now I can attest that the bus system is a very good one. Clean, neat, pretty much on time, and they’re the lifeblood of transport across the country, as the rail lines are extremely limited, esp. north to south. Anyway, I was attending a workshop, with 11 of us crashing at the house of a YD volunteer. More networking-that was actually the best outcome of the workshop, as attendees crossed all volunteer sectors-SBD, Youth Development, Health and Environment, and we’re all from the same region of Morocco. Crashing means bring your sleeping bag and sleep on the tile or cement floor. Brrr. At least it was sunny during the day, so it helped that we could have our discussions up on the roof.

Rizzo REK Style--One objective I had in going to the workshop was to come back w/ideas for International Women's Day. Sat down today w/Fatima and Miriam and talked to them about an idea I have use March 8 (official IWD) as a "kick-off" to either monthly or quarterly meetings for the women of REK to address whatever topics interest them, ie; women's health, legal matters, business successes, etc. and bring in speakers to facilitate discussion. Managed to understand in our discussion in Darija that I need to get an "ok" from the Basha (he's BMOC in REK-over the Caid (President of the Rural Commune) and the Belladya (President of the Urban Commune)-both like mayors), as he might say no because of the election in June. I asked how that could impact women getting together, and apparently such a gathering doesn't take place currently outside of Coops or Assns, and may be seen as trying to mobilize women to get involved in the election. My plan is to go and talk with him tomorrow-I know him, as his office is close to the Coop and I've met with him a couple of times informally. Hopefully we get a "waxa" (fine) from him. Inshallah.

Rizzo Seattle Style--Got home from Midelt in time to connect via Skype, and today on landline (now that it’s working) w/Seattle-to talk w/family there, as my dear Aunt Geri’s health is failing and they’ve brought in hospice. It’s so hard to be so far away from them right now as they go through such a difficult time. At least Aunt Geri was alert when I called so I had a chance to talk with her briefly. My heart aches for them.

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