Recently, Bombay61 Studio (B61), an innovative and experimental urban solutions think tank, and the Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic (MMM), a collective that represents the creative and social power of Mumbaiker youth, came together to celebrate culture, conservation and sustainability at Versova Koliwada in Mumbai. In a first of its kind initiative, a pilot project termed ‘New Catch In Town’ managed to
collect 500 kgs of garbage in three days. This innovative installation to save Mumbai’s creeks has also looked at bringing diverse voices into the climate movement.
The four-day long exhibition looked at having new approaches to contemporary climate issues, conversations and people’s participation. Some of the architects behind the project at B61 share what is the need of the hour and the lessons they learnt while executing the project:
Community work is vital
Youth has the power of changing the narrative about how we look at things. To become an efficient solution creator, we must involve community members as vital players in the design or decision-making process which revolves around their betterment and growth.
Creek degradation is directly affecting traditional communities’ livelihoods for the past 15-20 years. It’s high time now that we take action for the betterment and rejuvenation of creek ecosystems.
Working with communities is a very powerful method to sharpen the formal design and development approach. This process helped me understand the significance of contextual traditional knowledge. Art and photography is a powerful and effective medium to reach out to people.
~Kalpita Lotankar, 27, Architect at B61
Youth is the key to social change
We work with the Koli community, conduct interviews, and meetings, and rigorously worked on the installation of net filters. It’s an amazing experience to share the whole effort with the community. We are constantly improving our presentation. From the initial concept to the final day of the exhibition, everyone in the team and in the community worked together to make it a reality.
Youth, in my opinion, is an extremely important tool for effecting social change. They are also in charge of ensuring that all of this information can go ahead and be shared across different platforms to create awareness in society about the condition of the creeks.
When we see a creek and the community’s dependence on it, we learn about the bond that exists between humans and nature. If we restore this creek, it will primarily protect the city from flooding and water pollution. It will also benefit small-scale fishermen, who rely heavily on this creek. If we protect nature, culture will naturally flourish, bringing people together. When the community is involved in the exhibition and they are pleased with the idea of net filters, they share their valuable inputs. I see hope on their faces that their fish will return to the creek, and we can all make a difference by installing net filters.
~Yash Khadye, 22, Junior Architect
Awareness is the key
From having multiple discussions with the communities to making design alterations for the net filters to the actual execution of these filters, we all have been actively a part of the collection of a lot of data for the exhibition and also creating the sheets required, managing and coordinating with people, making multiple layouts for the space, we have done it all.
The creeks have already degraded to a point where most of the creeks are called Nullahs and that is the sad reality. The steps according to me for doing something about it is, firstly, to create awareness and come together to work on the ground, not just discussing today and forgetting it the next minute. Stopping it at the source is an obvious and very important thing but all that’s been dumped there in the past is a major part of the problem and we should do something about that too.
While guiding people through the exhibition and making them aware, many people didn’t even know about these local communities and their problems.When I was explaining it to them they felt various emotions from sadness to guilt to realising that there’s hope and I could be a part of a team that’s making a change on the ground and making them aware of these problems is what I felt was a highlight for me. Their words of appreciation for all of us will always stay with me.
~Siddhesh Shirke, 23, Junior Architect
Conversation is the key to move forward
When I joined Bombay61, I did not know what a creek is or what it looks like. On our first visit to a creek in Jogeshwari, Mumbai,I saw that the waste is just flowing and I remember thinking “from where does this waste come? and what is this? and what is it called?” At that moment I came to know the difference between a Creek and Nallah, and this I got to know from the community that I spoke with. All the pollutants or the waste should be stopped on the spots and should not reach the waste in the creeks. The beach cleaning that we did earlier did not create an impact so we should try and stop it at this point and this is something that needs to be taken under consideration.
~Abhishek Gunjal, 22, intern-architect