What would Bangalore look like in 2050? At the rate at which we are going, will it be endless traffic or green pavements? This question sparked an idea within young minds. After months of planning and preparation, the Future City Event organised by Jhatkaa.org, along with Bangalore Creative Circus, was held on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of June. The first morning started with an energetic buzz around the entire space- the hustle bustle of stalls being set up, mic checks and an army of green shirts (aka the enthusiastic team of young volunteers working with Jhatkaa) trying to coordinate a fest that reverberated one strong idea, ‘Namma City, Namma Concern’. The event was held to bring like-minded people together under one roof, to start a conversation about sensitivity towards climate change, sustainable practices and harmonising nature into city life.
The main attraction of the event? An Augmented Reality set-up, that would give us a peek into a new world, as we envision a better future for Bangalore, though some would arguably say all the pets who came to visit, stole the show ;) The set up at the mezzanine was done by THE Workshop. Areas of Indiranagar, Malleswaram, K.R Puram and Hosakerehalli lake were re-imagined by artists and brought to life on a large screen. Life sprawling with electric buses, pedestrian pavements, cycle lanes and lush greenery. Looking at the screen gave me hope for the future and a sense of urgency to take a stand before it’s too late.
An extensively charted list of inspiring speakers and panellists was curated for the event. They all spoke about one common goal, co-existing with nature as one. What will be the motto for our Future city? #HasiruBengaluru, the popular hashtag of the event, aptly means working towards a “Green Bangalore”. From young college students like talking about Fridays for Future and their plan of action in climate activism to seasoned speakers like Indu Antony who shared her experience on founding the Cecilia Project, an initiative started for the safety of women in public spaces to alter the map of Bangalore by re-claiming areas where women feel unsafe. Satya Chandran, the bicycle mayor of Bangalore talked about the utopian idea of a 15-minute city, where we fortify our own city limits, fulfilling all our essential needs by walking or cycling, which would in turn be effective to reduce the infamous traffic in Bangalore.
Our beloved Vidya Akka and head chef Nayantara Bagla at the Circus Canteen made bio-enzymes along with the other curious participants at a workshop under the guidance of Pracheen Vidhaan. The permaculture workshop with the team at Ananas was so informative and fitting as we sat overlooking the bounty of the food forest at BCC. Another favourite of the crowd was Poonam Bir Kasturi at Daily Dump, breaking down the stigma around composting at home. One line that stayed with me throughout her session is that, whenever house-help were prompted to work on composting at home, they would refuse to participate by saying “Yeh kachre ka kaam hai'' that is, demeaning the practice of composting and comparing it to a waste pickers job. Waste generation and its disposal is largely where India falls short in management. Talking about waste and its disposal, a panel moderated by our in-house sustainability expert, Siddhart Lakshman, along with the founder of Rescript, Stone Soup and the Indian Plogman Raj himself, showed us that intelligently dealing with waste can lead to many avenues, whether it is manufacturing products safe for the environment, recycling waste to give it a new life, or bringing the community together for change. I fall short of words to express all my learnings in those three days.
Standing proudly with warm smiles were the stall owners. Their brands use locally farmed ingredients, waste-free packaging brought in fresh for us to enjoy. From hand-made soaps and scrubs, to seasonal juices and wines to slow fashion brands, the event had it all. I was intrigued to know their stories and struggles behind all the hard work they had put up. One early morning, I went ahead and sat down with them for a chat. A former high-school teacher Jessy, along with her husband Thankachan sell products made with produce from their own family estate. Tired from years of service at their mundane corporate jobs, the duo decided to follow their dreams to be closer to nature to start Chempotty estate. Jessy says she would only put out a product that she is happy to serve to her children, and was excited to give me a bite of her tangy cocoa bean dip. Similarly, Jagan says its his second inning in life, making refreshing popsicles at Perf Ice Pops Bangalore. He started this venture for the nostalgia of getting scolded by his mother for eating popsicles all the time, a practice he thinks the newer generation is missing out on. There were also a couple well-known brands in the line-up like Re-script, Bare Necessities and Wildermart. Whereas it was a first step for start-ups like Shinobi and Tani Naturals. It made me realise that events like these give a voice and a platform to so many individuals in the crazy rat-race where all of us are trying to out-run one another, they stand together to spread awareness and create what they love while doing good for the Earth.
A few individuals always on their toes were the photographers from Flying Chappal Productions, while having a candid conversation with them I asked, what are you trying to capture? They promptly replied, ‘the realness of people’, their reactions, their gestures, how a little girl is trying to use her skateboard amidst all the crowd unfazed by anything, the smiles of the volunteers as they dance and conversations of people with the team at Bangalore Busking as they wrote beautiful poetry.
Ending each day with a bang, the performers charmed the entire crowd with their mesmerising tunes. Thermal And A Quarter brought a power packed performance where the walls at Bangalore Creative Circus were beaming with energy and light. Frizelle D’Souza brought up all feelings warm and fuzzy with her beautiful voice, that made us think of our special someone. The band members Anirudh, Bharath and Abheet at Cinema of Excess performed soulful tunes that made us smile and marked the culmination of this one-of-a-kind event.
A few unsung heroes who shouldered endless responsibilities were the Laksman Anna, our housekeeping team, Security Guards, the equipment team and the team at The Circus Canteen, who tirelessly worked throughout the event and made sure everything went smoothly.
That’s not all, I made countless friends, shared smiles, hugs and anecdotes with people who inspired me and showed me that there is hope for the Future. Amidst all the crowds, laughter and chatter, was me sitting in a corner with a notebook, a pencil and some paints, trying to capture this event in a nutshell. This was the Future City event through the eyes, ears and nose of Nandini Jerajani, an excited young designer, studying at Srishti Manipal institute of Art, Design and Technology, ready to make a greener change.
- Nandini Jerajani