The Observe! workshop series is now live in the city of Chennai in India. This time we have initiated the workshops with students from public schools or otherwise called government/ corporation schools. These schools are run by the city corporation and it is unlikely that they get as much exposure as the students in private schools. Consequently, it is only fitting that Jane Jacobs’s vision, ideas and the Observe! workshop reaches them first. We aim to empower these children to take up responsibility of their neighbourhoods and work with the government in making their neighbourhood and the city of Chennai a better place to live.
One of the interesting discussions was about the dried up Paalar river in Vellore. On questioning them as to why the river had dried up, they had many intriguing answers to it. While some said that it was because of the pollution and excessive heat, others pointed out that the water was held in dams and reservoirs and only during heavy rains would water be released into the river. This led to a conversation about how dried up water bodies in cities are urban commons and must be left as is for water retention in the event of rainfall and floods. We also discussed how Chennai (the capital city of TamilNadu) faced the dreaded 2015 floods as the city filled up most of its urban commons and built buildings on it.
“I have been to Singapore and the footpath was very wide there. Around four people could fit in it if they stood in a line. It made walking a pleasant experience for me and I think I would walk more if we had paths like that here. Oh! Also I would like for these paths to be shaded with trees” - participant
The first of the Observe workshop series