WEST BENGAL PROJECTS

The DD project within the peri-urban wetland community of the East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW) who saw wastewater as a nutrient – something to be preserved as it enhanced their livelihood opportunities – and worked to meticulously use wastewater through an elaborate set of management practices that perpetuated their livelihood security. At the same time, they had a very unique, albeit rustic sense of aesthetics which expressed itself in their overall work of recovering resources from wastewater through pisciculture and vegetable farming. Over time and with learning from experience, they evolved a rich body of traditional knowledge which they preserved through their management practices. They had an experiential understanding of the scientific issues involved in this form of sewage-fed world of food growing. Late ecologist Dhrubajyoti Ghosh called this story of these wetlands an instance of living creatively with nature.

 

Unaware of EKW relevance and potential to sustain the wetland community and Kolkata in future, people don’t realize it’s growing crisis and urgency of the situation. DD objective is combining pedagogy and innovation to raise awareness as well as build a constituency among the youth and community for conservation of these unique wastewater wetlands. It also seeks to evolve new alternatives of utilising local waste and developing a new language of artistic engagements and interactions through a series of installations.

EAST KOLKATA WETLANDS ECOSYSTEM

The East Kolkata Wetlands, spread over 12,500 hectares on the eastern fringe of Kolkata, are the largest stretch of sewage-fed wetlands in the world. They treat our city’s sewage through natural biological methods, recovering the nutrients of domestic sewage through successive practices of growing fish, vegetables and paddy.

 

They save sewage treatment costs for the city. They also help recycle our solid waste. Wise use and re-use of waste earned these wetlands the recognition of a Ramsar site, a Wetland of International Importance.

 

The wetland community attached to these wetlands possesses a unique knowledge not found anywhere else in the world. These wetlands perform the threefold functions of producing food, treating sewage and helping in drainage.

COLLABORATIONS WITH EAST KOLKATA WETLANDS GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS Rather than taking a developmentalist approach and focusing on needs, the collaborative process was structured to build on existing and emergent community assets including skills, local knowledge, cultural practices, history and heritage, natural resources and networks. 
In collaboration with local government schools Kheyadah High School, Bamanghata High School, along with Nayabad High School and Choubhaga High School we hope to empower the community and youth to take pride in the EKW and stop it from disappearing. 

PEDAGOGICAL INTERVENTIONS 

The youth of these communities who also happen to be first generation learners have no means of using their newly acquired knowledge in a way that is compatible with their culture, in order to develop something substantial for sustaining their livelihoods and communities. The project has been about exploring new dialogues, opening newer dimensions hoping to empower the community youth.

Our approach was to evolve a new pedagogy involving ecological learning that serves to better connect with the ecosystem in which the youth reside. So the idea was to take stock of local environmental challenges and convert them into opportunities of livelihood-based learning for the youth. 

 

To promote the story of wastewater – DD collaborated with patachitrakar Mamoni and Samir Chitrakar from Pingla village, W.B to weave the importance of the sewage canals, their wise use by the community and their degrading conditions due to dangers of abuse faced by EKW and their catchment areas – which are either being encroached or indiscriminately dumped with the city’s solid waste. 

KNOW WASTE WORKSHOPS

KNOW WASTE under Disappearing Dialogues Collective aims to facilitate environmental awareness and conservation of East Kolkata Wetlands (EKW), along with promoting waste management and waste reduction through a series of interactive workshops, engaging the wetland community youth through art, innovation and performance.

 

There were a series of workshops with the school children on how to deal with organic waste and inorganic waste like handmade paper making from waste banana stem; herbal gardens from waste plastic bottles; making musical instruments using waste materials; art and nature explorer workshops. 

 

 

 

HAND MADE PAPER FROM ORGANIC WASTE 

UTILIZING BANANA STEM COVER 

Impact: To make learners stay away from throwing away solid wastes into waste water canals- The lifeline of the fishing community and ponds

HERBAL GARDEN REUSING PLASTIC WASTE

LOCAL GARDENING WITH FERTILE SOIL

Impact: Identifying skills and engagement potential of young learners. Learning the importance of keeping the waste water canals and ponds plastic free.

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS REUSING DIFFERENT WASTE MATERIALS

FINDING MUSIC WITHIN OBJECTS

Impact: Identifying skills and creativity of young learners and seeing who can serve as future wetland ambassadors

 

COSTUME DESIGNING FROM DOMESTIC WASTE

AWARENESS OF WASTE MANAGEMENT

Impact: Better awareness of surroundings, uniqueness of ecosystem, better respect for those who maintain the character of this ecosystem spreading awareness about wetland conservation. 

WETLAND NATURE EXPLORERS - ART AND ECOLOGY

DD has been working to facilitate environmental awareness and conservation by combining innovation and interventions that build a constituency among the youth for the preservation of the wetland socio-spatial environment. Wetland ecology explorers has been a workshop to record the biodiversity of the area and to initiate a process of understanding and valuing the ecological wealth of wetlands. 

CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT- PERFORMANCE ON STORY OF EKW

It is especially those lesser known and less privileged people who have woven their lives, their culture and oftentimes their scientific practices with the same thread for the benefit of the society at large. Their contribution often goes unrecognised and cultural finesse of their work is rarely evaluated. With the growing pressures of urbanisation is leading to unprecedented crisis is hard hitting our society.

The peri-urban or urban villages around the so called smart cities suffer the most. What they do not realise that if they allow themselves to be eroded and transformed they would lose their identities forever. On one hand they are constantly fighting through poverty, unemployment, water scarcity, deprived and cursed with the unpredictability of climate change, facing challenges unable to tackle and on the other is coping up with the growing needs and the quest to is endless. 

Encouraging the children and facilitating workshops on art, music and dance DD aimed to celebrate the unique story of EKW and create an identity which focuses on the assets of EKW and community.

OUTCOMES

PEDAGOGICAL INTERVENTIONS

The youth of these communities who also happen to be first generation learners have no means of using their newly acquired knowledge in a way that is compatible with their culture, in order to develop something substantial for sustaining their livelihoods and communities. The project has been about exploring new dialogues, opening newer dimensions hoping to empower the community youth.

Our approach was to evolve a new pedagogy involving ecological learning that serves to better connect with the ecosystem in which the youth reside. So the idea was to take stock of local environmental challenges and convert them into opportunities of livelihood-based learning for the youth. 

 

To promote the story of wastewater – DD collaborated with patachitrakar Mamoni and Samir Chitrakar from Pingla village, W.B to weave the importance of the sewage canals, their wise use by the community. DD has published a small booklet which carries the story of a symbiotic co-existence of nature and the people of EKW community. A teaching tool in the form of a calendar has been created for dissemination of knowledge. 

 

On World Wetlands Day 2019 a booklet was launched and an exhibition of art and artefacts developed by the children was displayed alongside a public performance. The song on the story of EKW with the patachitra painting is still being promoted through performances.

 

CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT- PERFORMANCE ON STORY OF EKW

It is especially those lesser known and less privileged people who have woven their lives, their culture and oftentimes their scientific practices with the same thread for the benefit of the society at large. Their contribution often goes unrecognised and cultural finesse of their work is rarely evaluated. With the growing pressures of urbanisation is leading to unprecedented crisis is hard hitting our society.

The peri-urban or urban villages around the so called smart cities suffer the most. What they do not realise that if they allow themselves to be eroded and transformed they would lose their identities forever. On one hand they are constantly fighting through poverty, unemployment, water scarcity, deprived and cursed with the unpredictability of climate change, facing challenges unable to tackle and on the other is coping up with the growing needs and the quest to is endless. 

 

Encouraging the children and facilitating workshops on art, music and dance DD aimed to celebrate the unique story of EKW and create an identity which focuses on the assets of EKW and community. The children will perform live at Kolkata Centre For Creativity before an audience to mark the mark the ‘Climate Diplomacy Week’ 2019 with the support of German Consulate, Kolkata.

WETLAND NATURE EXPLORERS - ART AND ECOLOGY

DD has been working to facilitate environmental awareness and conservation by combining innovation and interventions that build a constituency among the youth for the preservation of the wetland socio-spatial environment. Wetland nature explorers have been travelling and doing field research to record the biodiversity of the area and to initiate a process of understanding and valuing the ecological wealth of wetlands.

Their observations and samples collected along with drawings and visuals will be complied to make a Wetland nature journal and disseminate knowledge as a part of the exhibition display in September 2019 at Kolkata Centre for Creativity.

Our intervention seeks to redress the dangers of abuse faced by the wastewater canals of the East Kolkata Wetlands and their catchment areas – which are either being encroached or indiscriminately dumped with the city’s solid waste. Our activities through art and culture seek to implant creative solutions to tackle the problems being faced. 

 

Significance of our future intervention

 

Citizens do not realize the growing crisis and urgency of the situation they are acutely unaware of the potential of EKW to sustain the wetland community and its neighbouring environs including Kolkata. Thus, we aim to re-present the relevance of the EKW ecosystem, create engagements with art and science tackling and utilizing local waste.  

 

The objective is combining pedagogy and innovation to raise awareness and build a constituency among the youth and community for conservation of these unique wastewater wetlands. It also seeks to evolve alternate of utilisation of local waste and develop a new language of artistic engagements and interactions through a series of installations, exhibitions, performances and co-creation. In the process, we hope to empower the community and youth to take pride in the EKW and stop it from disappearing. 

Copyright © Disappearing Dialogues

Updated 2020

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