From the beginning of this project my intention is to expand and invite engagement and thought through the park. To make the park a space for exploratory dialogue and experimental creation, I have always preferred the idea of decision making in building up the space. So I have organized workshops with the neighbourhood conducted by the team of young members who I am working with.
As a collective endeavour I and the members of the club arranged an interactive space with few bamboo cots around the banyan tree which is the prime location of the Park. We also created a swing and painted it with vibrant colours. This swing was hung from the tree. The women of the neighbourhood were invited to visit and make the abandoned park active and alive as a shared space for themselves. They came with their kids and enjoyed the swing put up at the Park. Through this process the members of the project have got involved in a dialogue with these women.
’Sanjhi Jagah’ in Hindi is also termed as Public space/Common Space. Here everyone has got the equal claim for that particular space, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, race, profession. It aims to contribute towards making and seeking to give new value to these spaces.
Every afternoon for a week, the women shared about ‘Sanjhi Jagah ‘and those narratives were documented rigorously by the young members. I want to share a glimspe from a narrative of a young woman.
‘Aruna spends her afternoon in the balcony, engaging herself in stitching variety of patterns. This gives her a little earning and is a good pastime. During these hours, she dwells in memories back in her village. How the courtyard used to get filled up with the giggle of her friends, how they used to enjoy the swing hung from the banyan tree, how during the festival they used to dance and sing together in the temple premise, how in the quiet afternoon she used to sneak out of her bed and spend hours chatting with her pals in the cowshed. These all come and fade away as her needle weaves through the soft piece of cloth.
After her marriage, she moved to Delhi. The spaces for movement and the opportunities for sharing have become restricted. Now she only finds the small balcony of the house as the lone space for herself.’
This was one of the themes explored during the workshop on the park project. The emphasis was on visualising the park as a shared space in the neighbourhood.
The second emphasis was on the awareness for cleanliness of the park (sanjhi jagah). The neighbourhood has converted the park in to garbage storage. Initially the people in the neighbourhood were very hostile to what we were doing in developing the park as a shared space. So we decided to work in more active way. We created a bucket and a cloak with the following text written on it.
‘Ghar Saaf kiya?
Kuda kaha fek diya?
Kahin park mein to nahi?
(Sanjhi Jagah, Sabki jagah)
One of the members wore the cloak and others carried the buckets. They visited each house for collecting the garbage personally. This activity was carried since past one week. This created a strong impact on the neighbourhood. People gradually were cooperative and they said that they are trying to stop throwing garbage in the park.
However while we were in dialogue with the neighbourhood through workshops about the shared space and awareness of the responsibility of a shared space, we also faced many odds which is the part of our experiences.