What can each of us do to reduce our ecological impact on the planet? Is it possible for these individual actions to coalesce into a larger movement that can have transformative impact at the systemic level? What sets those who lead community movements for change apart?
These were a few of the questions that the second edition of Aikyam’s Weekend Conversation Series at Atta Galatta on 18th June, 2016 addressed. Titled Earth-friendly choices for urban sustainability, the event brought together people at the forefront of citizen sustainability movements in Bangalore touching upon problems of waste management, water conservation and urban planning.
Speaker 1 - Kamlendra Pratap Singh
K.P. Singh is a resident of Rainbow Drive, a villa community in Bangalore, under whose stewardship the community was able to initiate a property-wide programme of water conservation and waste management. By putting in place sophisticated systems of rainwater harvesting and waste water treatment, Rainbow Drive has achieved water self-sufficiency and raised its groundwater levels, making it an exception in what is arguably one of Bangalore’s fastest growing areas.
Speaker 2 - Vani Murthy and Manogna Sastry
Talking about SwachaGraha, a citizen-led movement to promote household level composting and organic vegetable gardening were Vani Murthy, founder member of the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) and Manogna Sastry. Manogna took us through the burgeoning problem of waste in Bangalore and outlined the impacts on air, water, soil, and human health. Also addressed were impactful yet easy-to-adopt steps that individuals can take to cut down the use of single-use inorganic items like plastic/ paper cups, polythene bags, takeaway food containers etc. Vani Murthy addressed the management of post-consumption organic waste by composting it at the household level and using the resultant ‘black gold’ in our kitchen gardens to grow our own safe food.
Speaker 3 - Amith Pallavoor
The second session was opened with a talk by Amith Pallavoor of Praja about the many benefits of introducing a multi-modal transport network in Bangalore, one that connects the metro, the intra-city buses, the suburban railway. Pallavoor emphasised that effective modes of last-mile connectivity are crucial for improving safety, and thereby, usage of the public transport in Bangalore.
Comparing the vast suburban rail systems in other parts of India such as Kolkata and Hyderabad, he made a strong case for strengthening Bangalore’s thus far languishing suburban railway system to connect various satellite towns and ease the pressure of unplanned expansion on Bangalore City.
Speaker 4 - Smita Singh
Globally, one is witnessing a rise in the sharing economy, with well-known companies like Uber and AirBnB leading the pack. Smita Singh, founder of the sharing platform Occupult highlighted the factors that will lead to the inevitable growth of the sharing economy in India and the many resultant benefits to the economy, environment and citizen participation in governance.
As Bangalore heaves under a growing population, complaints about broken systems, poor infrastructure, endless waits for solutions are common dinner table conversation. Interactive events such as these are a platform for concerned citizens to come together, understand the issues facing our city and collectively identify solutions to them. They are great places to meet and learn from leaders of local community movements and find mentors to guide one’s own sustainability efforts.
Conversations like these give you hope that in wanting to tackle the seemingly insurmountable problems of sustainability, you are not alone.
Interested in being part of future events? Join the Aikyam community here.
This post is in partnership Aikyam, a volunteer-driven community making sustainability mainstream.