It's only natural to be paranoid about floods at this time of the year, but instead of going berserk, why not learn how to cope with whatever disaster Mother Nature happens to throw our way?
"Always Prepare: Living With Changes" is the title of an exhibition currently under way at the Thailand Creative and Design Centre (TCDC). A joint collaboration with the Japan Foundation and NPO Plus Arts, the aim is to show why it's always preferable to be an informed, self-sufficient citizen than someone who merely reacts to such events and waits for assistance.
Designed by architect Masashi Sokabe, a professor at Kanagawa University, part of the exhibition focuses on the Jishin Itsumo project, a disaster-preparedness programme designed specifically for Japanese children and based on the idea that natural disasters can occur anywhere and at any time in that country.
One element in the project is the "Iza! Kaeru Caravan", a set of fun emergency drills for children with the deadly serious message communicated via competitions, artistic activities and games.
The Jishin Itsumo emblem is a dark-green frog which comes in a variety of shapes and sizes.
A substitute for a life-sized doll, the frog is used to teach children how to handle an unconscious person without causing further injury.
In another exercise, the frog is used as a target with children practising using a fire hose by aiming a jet of water at it. NPO Plus Arts, the organisation which devised the project, interviewed 167 victims of the earthquake which badly damaged the city of Kobe in January 1995 _ what the Japanese remember as the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake _ in order to learn about the problems these people encountered and, most importantly, what skills are crucial for surviving a catastrophe on this scale.
While the Japanese section of the TCDC exhibition features techniques and products designed for use during various disasters, the Thai part concentrates exclusively on coping with floods. By examining Thailand's experiences with flooding in 2011 and previous years, curator Nunnaree Panichkul says we can gain insights, learn how to prepare for the unexpected and understand what our duties are as an individual, as a member of a community and as a citizen.
"It's not just one person's duty; it's everyone's duty," Nunnaree stresses.
The exhibits on flooding give a comprehensive explanation of how the structure of our capital city has changed greatly over the years while water-drainage patterns haven't _ which is the root cause of the problem.
Other exhibits provide solutions: how to utilise traditional knowledge; the usefulness of joining with other members of your community to make a concerted response; and how to prepare your house to deal with advancing floodwater.
Ultimately, this exhibition is all about making an effort to change deep-seated attitudes and perceptions.
"Learning to live with nature is something we'll all have to get used to.
"Only you yourself can change your mindset. That's why the exhibition was named Tuam Yoo Dai," Nunnaree explains.
The title is a deliberate play on the phrase yoo dai, referring both to the frustration that regular floods cause and the idea that we can happily co-exist with the water.
The exhibition continues at the TCDC until Jan 6. There is no admission charge. The venue is open daily, except Mondays, from 10.30am to 9pm. For more information, visit www.tcdc.or.th.
About the author
- Writer: Parisa Pichitmarn
Position: Life Writer