Signing-up for the March for Science

18056736_1325941194126810_7354717257702260811_nThe Earth Day 2017 celebration coincided with the March for Science yesterday. And marched we did, along with thousands others. The crowd was a far cry from the mediocre turn up on the Earth Day rally I witnessed five years ago (when a right-wing media-watch organization also swiped my photos).

I had tentative plans of attending because it fell on a Saturday, and my weekends are sacred. and I’ve done my fair share of rallies even way back as an undergrad. But after my roommate invited me to an impromptu sign-making workshop at Artomatic, I didn’t want my sign- and training in science- be easily discarded and just go to waste. So yesterday afternoon, under DC’s grey and rainy skies, armed with our signs, umbrellas, and rain coats, off my roommate, her mom, and I went to the march. We knew it would be a wet day and we were prepared for it, because, science!

I’m still recovering from the past days’ activities. There’s another march scheduled next Saturday called the People’s Climate Movement. I’m still unsure if I’ll go, but here I am already brainstorming ideas for a sign.

March for Science Capitol

From writing to working on Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda

I’m more than three months into my job working as National Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at FAO Philippines. It feels weird that my last post was about typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, and now I’m working on the emergency response and recovery of farmers’ livelihoods affected by the disaster.

Project proposals, logframes and surveys have kept me busy most of the time. It’s the same difference in my previous jobs working in the agriculture, environment and climate change/disaster reduction at the national policy and international level. Now I’m at the frontline as I get involved in project formulation and implementation. I spent majority of the days in February traveling to Roxas and Tacloban, where many of our projects are located.

It was and continues to be intense. It helps a lot that I am part of an amazing team from those who work in our main office to those in our field offices. Dedicated and committed are an understatement of the work they’re doing. Whenever the topic of work comes up in candid conversations, I keep telling people that team dynamics is one of those things you don’t have control over when looking for a job. Job advertisements or even interviews won’t give you much information if you’re a good fit to the team. It’s hit or miss.

We’re rolling out more projects, hiring more people and there’s more work to be done. I’m not sure when my next post will be but I’m glad to sneak in some time to post on this blog. If you’re interested to learn more about different aspects of my job, just post on the comments section below.

How to help supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda victims

A few of my readers are based abroad. And if you’re one of them, you must have seen photos and footages on  TV and online how supertyphoon Haiyan (or ‘Yolanda’ in the local typhoon nomenclature) destroyed  cities and small towns in the islands in the center part of the Philippines. As I’ve done in the past, I am requesting imploring you to give cash donations. Cash is quick and easy to transfer. Here is a list of organizations and their respective bank account details where you can send your donations.

I know many of you are young professionals like me who are also trying to make ends meet. But even  a small amount can go a long way. According to Gawad Kalinga, a non-profit organization working on affordable house construction, a $5 donation can provide up to four to six meals for a family of five.

Thank you!

Attending the AEA Conference 2013

From tomorrow until Saturday (October 19), I’ll be attending the 27th Annual Evaluation Conference 2013 organized by the American Evaluation Association in Washington DC. To prepare I’ve been perusing the conference program which has over 875 sessions to choose from. But I will most likely use this SEA Change cheat sheet to attend environment and climate change-related presentations. I’ve also been updating my CV that I will give away to potential employers. The hunt continues.

If you cannot attend in-person and want to stay up-to-date with the goings-on in the conference, follow me via Twitter @jadz, or monitor #eval13. Hit me up if you’re attending the conference. See you there!

Bidding farewell to Climate-Eval

Today officially marks my last day at the GEF EO, and subsequently as moderator of the Climate-Eval community of practice. My two-year term came and went so quickly. In-between those two years, however, are some learning and insights worth highlighting in my final blog post as Climate-Eval Moderator.

I have a confession to make: I am not an evaluator. While I have worked with Climate-Eval members, a big number of whom are evaluators, I myself have never conducted an evaluation. Thus, I had to learn on the job. And learning about evaluation, as in any endeavor, has been challenging albeit rewarding. This has squarely complemented my previous country-level experience in project and policy analysis in the environment sector and climate change. Reviewing how national policies and programs could be designed to increase their success rate is complex enough. Yet understanding and determining whether they were indeed successful is not any easier. Climate change and its compounding issues of complexity and uncertainty pose challenges to this end.

Part of my work as moderator was to draft approach papers and manage research studies on how evaluations are being conducted and how they could be improved. This entailed rummaging through work of development cooperation agencies, think-tanks and academics on indicators, evaluation reports, and other related literature. As our community of practice progresses and has finished three studies looking at evaluation frameworks, guidelines and tools, it has become apparent that to come up with evaluation standards and norms, more work and collaboration with other networks and organizations is needed.

I applied for and took on this job primarily for two reasons. It involved work in the field of environment and climate change, and online media. While the internet facilitated online communication which proved very useful for Climate-Eval members who are dispersed all over the globe, this type of interaction still possesses some inherent limitations. Emails and webinars lacked the personal touch of face-to-face communication. During my official travels I had the fortune of attending, I finally met several of our members. This virtual to real exchange somehow became the model for getting to know and connecting with members beyond Skype calls and webinar discussions. I was an observer and participant to meaningful discussions that arose from this model. Upon meeting some members in person, virtual acquaintances gradually turn to personal connections.

We may have a lofty goal in our community to improve our knowledge and skills in conducting high-quality evaluations for climate change and development interventions, but it’s one that is necessary. It holds all of us accountable as actors for the work that we do, be they the introduction of energy efficient light bulbs or minimizing disastrous impacts of natural calamities.

As I write this, the search for the new moderator is still in progress. Yet I encourage everyone to continue the interesting discussions in our Linkedin Group and start interacting with the new moderator as soon as he or she takes on the role I’m leaving. As a new moderator comes on board, so will exciting developments in our community which we should all look forward to and engage in. I am bidding farewell as Climate-Eval Moderator, but I will remain a member of our community and look forward to its future pursuits.

This was originally posted on the Climate-Eval blog.

Happy 9th birthday, Freetaste Blog!

Who would have known, this blog will still be up nine years on.Make that six if I were to count my blogging hiatus for almost three years when I started working.

My first intention in starting the blog was, as a writer, to keep the writing going. Also, blogging was instant publishing, not having to wait for the editorial nod. What prevents me from my writing and publishing is a click of a button. I am not a full-fledged writer. Instead, I’ve gone on to work in economics and environment, do grad studies in environmental governance in Germany. Now I work in the US still in the field of environment- and guess what- as a blogger. I have a more respectable title as ‘Moderator’. I work on climate change and development. It is interspersed with online communications and social media, the beginnings of which can perhaps be traced to the blogging format.

Once, back in Freiburg, I met up with an IT guy in a pub, whom I first met in Cologne. We first got in touch via Twitter a few weeks back, when I saw his tweet as he was giving away free tickets to Photokina. I gladly grabbed one of the tickets. Over some drinks, we chatted about the internet and how it has revolutionized the way we communicate, and pretty much the world. He asked me when I started blogging. “Maybe around 2003”, I said. “Oh so you are an early adopter!”, he exclaimed. I was bashful about it, and more so after he brought up the number of daily visitors in our blogs.

I still don’t get an astronomical number of visits. As this blog has become a way to meet interesting people online and offline, and a couple have even found jobs and become my co-workers, I think this blog doing pretty well.

Gaming the system

I haven’t guest-blogged for quite a while, having been busy maintaining this blog and my work which involves a lot of online communications. Yesterday ClimatePrep.org, a blog of the WWF published my blog post. I originally wrote that for this blog but I thought I’ll give them an initial crack at it. Learn more about how games help in understanding climate change complexities here.

There is already a (small) movement in using games that aid learning by simplifying concepts and adding the fun factor. This is different from ‘gamification’ which adds a ‘game layer’ to accomplish tasks. You can watch a related video from Boston University below (it did not make the editorial cut!):

It also got me into thinking of a new blogging community. If anyone out there is interested just drop me a note.