Sarah's News from Kodagalli...Blogger : Sarah Stodder | Time : 2011-07-03 22:00:00
I’ve just returned from my first week in Kodagahalli, and I have quite a few experiences to record. One of the most important lessons I gathered from this week is the importance of the ”workspace culture”. It is only when visiting different workspaces that one realizes the importance of the word ”baobab” to Ubuntu’s mission. As Vibha described it to me, the baobab tree is a place where a community convenes, where there is constant, inclusive, and effective community activity, whether for work or politics or anything else. At the end of my week, I visited Channapatna, where the women have mastered the baobab workspace culture. I watched them make screen t-shirts with more efficiency, diligence and care than I have ever seen anywhere else. Leaders divide the women into teams, and switch the tasks of the teams from time to time so that every girl learns every step of the process. They now have a good idea of the quality that worldwide markets require, and they organize constant quality control checks. In Kodagahalli, this workspace culture simply hasn’t caught on yet. I realized there that it is much harder than it sounds to create such a culture. For the division of labor to work, there must be a minimum number of women who show up to the space. Although this is crucial to creating the workspace culture, it is often hard to get constant attendance if the culture isn’t there yet. In addition, leaders must emerge: people to teach the women to sew, people to divide tasks, people to keep work on track. These leaders do not just spring out of the ground. They must be accepted by the women, and they must gain confidence, which is no small feat. The idea of quality control also has yet to sink in at Kodagahalli. I found myself trying to explain (in English, with wild hand gestures and many props), the kind of machine-wrought quality that is found in the US. This is what these women are up against, and it is an uphill battle. But these women, without ever having been to the US, must somehow acquire a sense of the quality demanded by the modernized market that they seek to break into. I will be returning to Kodagahalli today, to again observe the progress of the workspace culture there.
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