We chose the theme of sustainability because we felt an increasing need to sensitise the people about the adverse impact of their lifestyles on people living in villages and rural areas.
We are also increasingly feeling the effects of environmental degradation in our cities; climate change affects us all but it affects the poor and those living at the margins of society the most. According to a recent article in Scroll.in, climate change in the 21st century is expected to push another 45 million people into poverty.
Our aim wasn’t simply to point out problems, it was to offer solutions.
Vishalakshi Padmanabhan, the founder of Buffalo Back Collective, was the first speaker of the evening. Vishalakshi, who is actively involved in promoting organic food and supporting organic farmers through Buffalo Back said “I can sum up my talk in one word: ‘Cook’”
She spoke about the need for people in cities to reestablish a connection to the land, to find out more about the food they eat, where it comes from.
The second speaker at Converge, Pooja Rai, is one of the founders of Anthill Creations, an organisation that is committed to creating safe public spaces for children in our cities. Pooja and her team have been creating playgrounds for children in urban spaces around the country. They do this by using reusing and up cycling waste materials
Speaking about the significance of the work and projects carried out by Anthill Creations, Pooja said “Play is crucial for the emotional and physical well-being of the children. One of the things we are trying to achieve through Anthill is to Bring Back Play”
At the very outset of his speech, Mansoor Gous, who runs a dry waste collection Centre in Ward No 198, Jayanagar, Bengaluru, gave the audience a choice “Kannanda or Hindi? Because I can’t do English”
Preliminaries done, Mansoor detailed his long journey in setting up the Dry Waste Collection Centre in Jayanagar, regaling the audience with stories from his neighbourhood.
“Just because a leaf is dry does not mean it is waste. It has a power to nourish that God has given it.” Mansoor said. “Yet, we find dry leaves in the dry waste bin”
Speaking about the rapid environmental degradation in Bengaluru, he said “People have to take responsibility for their communities. If we segregated at the source, the lakes in Bellandur would not be frothing”
Our final speaker for the evening was Vishwanath Srikantiah, or as he is popularly known by his online avatar, The ZenRainMan. In his short and powerful talk, Vishwanath touched on a number of issues to do with water conservation in our cities.
“With the advent of the tap, we have lost out connection with our sources of water” he said.
Vishwanath has a simple solution to Bengaluru’s water woes: rejuvenate traditional water resources, especially the open wells. “Bengaluru has 10,000 open wells. We need to increase that number to one million, and we need to connect these wells to the sky”
Vishwanath also introduced the audience to traditional well-diggers from the Manuvaddar community, whose families have been engaged in well-digging for several generations.
It was heartening to see the active interest and participation of the audience at Converge. Everyone went back home a little more informed and equipped with practical skills about sustainable living in the city. Do check out our album for picture updates from the event.
Read about the previous edition of Converge here
The proceeds from ticket sales of Converge were invested in borrowers on www.rangde.org. Interested in events like Converge? Sign up on www.rangde.org/signup to become a Social Investor.