Communicating Results through Documents Method

Writing the Guidebook, Brochure and Poster: (Mission and Philosophy)

In order to easily share the information that we gathered with the VPUU, we decided to assemble a guidebook that included both the data and analyzed information we had obtained from our extensive field study research. The guidebook was written with the intention to assist the VPUU in understanding both the social and physical aspects of problems related to stormwater and flooding, and to inform them of possible solutions that can be implemented in the future.  Using Microsoft Powerpoint, a computer software program, we drafted a design that included the main elements of the book that we felt would be the most appropriate to relay our ideas to the VPUU, as well as any other interested parties that are interested in the adaptation of SUDS to informal settlements (Figure 4.1).

Initial draft of the guidebook
Figure 4.1: Initial draft of the guidebook

The main attributes of the book included key words which described specific features of the conditions in each hot spot (Table 2.1), descriptions of existing physical and social conditions that effected the residents’ ability to implement stormwater management plans, and detailed accounts of both the current interventions found along the road as well as proposed solutions that we felt would be appropriate for each area. By describing the proposed solutions, we were able to include very detailed information regarding specific dimensions and locations, as well as specific guidelines for implementing each solution plan.  This section was very crucial to include in the guidebook, as it gave the audience step by step instructions of how to use our research to improve the conditions of the road and to minimize the amount of flooding witnessed by numerous houses.

The guidebook was broken down into four main sections, one for each hot spot.  We determined that this organization would be the most beneficial to all audiences, and it would enable the book to be more user friendly.  After creating the initial outline, we began to fill in each page with the relative information.  Using the notes that we gathered from our interviews, and pictures that we took during our field studies, we were able to smoothly display the information in a way that was easy and attractive to read.  With the VPUU in mind, our team made sure that the book took a professional look, but at the same time, it was well organized so that it could be used as a quick reference if information or specific data was needed without delay.  To assist with this organizational factor, we created both a table of contents and an index, to provide proper and easy navigation throughout the entirety of the book.

After review by Dr. Winter, our team determined that a few extra pages of introduction would be beneficial to the book.  We added a brief overview of our background, as well as a page describing the limitations and challenges that we had to face throughout the duration of the project.  As per Dr. Winter’s suggestion, these pages helped to provide audiences other than the VPUU with a deeper understanding of our work and a stronger insight into why we were interested in completing this project.  At this stage in the editing process, we also changed the format and layout of the book, to produce a more professional and research oriented document.  To do this, we converted the information from the first version to a new computer program, Microsoft Publisher.  Here, we were able to use a pre-generated layout, and insert our text into designated text boxes and forms.  This new version of the guidebook focused more on the social methodology of the project, and enabled the team to emphasize the importance of the community social structure on stormwater management.

In addition, we also created a brochure and a poster, which outlined the different stormwater management plans that the VPUU can share with the residents so that they can begin to implement appropriate solutions on their own. The brochure was designed using Microsoft Publisher, a computer software program, and was written with the residents of Monwabisi Park as the intended audience.  Using simple language, and detailed diagrams and pictures, we produced an informative brochure that enabled the residents to learn about different interventions, and encouraged them to implement one of these solutions in their own yard.  The brochure explained the main causes of flooding, and why stormwater is seen as such a large problem, and it emphasized the benefits of working together as a community. We incorporated pictures of existing interventions found throughout the C-section road, as well as throughout the entire settlement, to help show the residents what each intervention looked like.  To complement these pictures, we also included diagrams with labels to assist in explaining how each intervention should work and how it should be managed so that it can stay functional over a long period of time.

The poster was initially created to be used in an informal presentation of our work to the residents, co-researchers and members from SNAC.  Unfortunately, this presentation fell through and was unable to take place.  As we had already spent a large amount of time on designing the poster, we felt that it was in our best interest to continue and complete the poster, so that it could be used in some other way.  After discussing this idea with our advisors and Dr. Winter, we decided that the completed poster could be presented to the VPUU, for either display purposes or simply a means of reference.  With this new audience in mind, we felt that the poster should take on a professional style, and include a very informative summary of our project.  We included seven sections in our design, each emphasizing a different aspect of our project.  These sections were entitled, “Goal of the Project,” “Why is Stormwater an Issue,” “Hot Spots,” “Proposed Solutions,” “Current Local Interventions,” “Management of Proposed Solutions,” and “Conclusion.”  These pieces created a detailed, yet concise synopsis of our work, and helped to display our findings as well as our ideas in a meaningful and organized manner.

These three final deliverables of the project enabled us to reach out to a variety of audiences.   Not only did we use our information obtained from the settlement to inform the VPUU and City Government on how to improve the roads and reduce flooding in Monwabisi Park, but we also used our research to help the community at a micro-scale level, focusing on the individual needs of the people residing along the C-section road.

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