In the spring of 2018, the students of the Chulalongkorn University Masters in International Development Studies (MAIDS) Innovation for Inclusive Development (IID) course embarked a journey of learning, discovery and community, centered on the organic farming collective of Khlong Yong – Lan Tak Fa located just outside of Bangkok in Nakhon Pathom Province, Thailand. While the courses requirements left the options and engagement in their hands, it did require the students to bring solutions or changes to certain issues for a group of people in their community, using the specific design processes that were learned during the semester. The economy of Khlong Yong Community primarily relies on their agricultural outputs but they now also have gardens and livestock and are looking towards sustainable, eco-tourism to bring in more interest and profit to their tight knit community. Using the design thinking approach of "empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test," the group of students, made of up nationals from all over Southeast Asia, engagement the community and created a set of publications and videos that they could use for the uptick of foreign visitors they hope to attract in the coming years.
By visiting the community and having initial conversations with the farmers/producers (the main stakeholders in this case), the group was able to get a better sense of the situation the community was facing and their real needs. These consultations are essential in the human centered design process, and without them, there is always a risk of the final product being irrelevant or useless to the community after all the hard work put in by a team. After multiple visits, tours and interviews with a wide array of community members, it was jointly decided that information is the main barrier to the community's future plans and livelihood, so in order to create wider networks and audiences for the organic products being created in Khlong Yong, the group decided a rebranding and promotional project would best suit their needs and hopefully attract more and new audiences and buyers in the future.
With a low budget and time constraints, the IID team had their own set of challenges to work with, but with the wealth of skills, knowledge and innovative solutions provided by each member of the group, the end products of the project turned out to be quite useful and while time consuming, the group built off of the one major asset that human centered design focuses on: people. The end products culminated into a professionally crafted pamphlet to be used to engage non-Thai visitors and academics interested in the organic community and their surrounding resources and more importantly, a video compilation that highlights the community through the use of stories, visual cues and the raw emotions of the farmers that are the backbone of this project. Through this process the group has also created a strong bond with the community, paving the way for future collaboration and further work on putting Khlong Yong – Lan Tak Fa Community on the map for more people to experience and benefit from.
Promotional pamhplet created by IIID students for use of the Khlong Yong community