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Giving form to negotiations

Individual thoughts have no contribution in raising an audible collective voice.

There may be many meaningful floating individual thoughts, which are often drifted away in conversations at the very same place, which they aspire to improve or redevelop. These thoughts and aspirations need to be collected, collated, articulated to generate non-negotiable requests or further allow them to be developed into demands or rights.

The journey a thought with a common language makes, to transform itself into a demand, is discrete in nature. Now, whether we call this journey as a way in which public participation can be increased and made impactful is of keen interest and one of the explorations Plural is engaged with. These processes or ways can be generated with various techniques or tactics. We as professionals restrain from the notorious connotations of tactics. There is no departure from the fact that tactics can also be used in its positive sensibility.

Focusing on the techniques, The Aspiration Art Installation (set up in Studio X, Mumbai, in August 2015 by Plural) is an attempt to fuse art and mapping techniques, extracted from Tim Brown's Human Centered Design Concept building the desirability quotient of the residents of Dharavi. Collated together are recycled paper tubes, cell phone lights and coloured data rings represented on the sector profiles of the Dharavi map which projects the communities' primary aspirations and specific demography.

A team of PLURAL members and architecture students from Academy of Architecture, Mumbai interacted with almost 250 Dharavi residents to understand and help them prioritise their aspirations towards Dharavi’s redevelopment. The participants came from different parts of Dharavi living in various nagars (smallest self organized community unit in Dharavi). Children, housewives, young workers, artists and senior citizens participated in this exercise over a period of five days. This mapping technique is situation based and they were put into a hypothetical situation where they were supposed to imagine three things that they aspire New/Improved/Redeveloped Dharavi to consist. In order to help them prioritize their generic aspiration into a single non- negotiable primary aspiration, they were allowed to select only one aspiration as their primary aspiration. Data collected was also analyzed into charts and info graphics for documentation and project development purposes.

Each tube is a pixel of information and carries an individual's aspirations. During the mapping process, each tube was colour coded to give an insight into the type of participation and demographic details. The viewing side of the tube has a color coded ring indicating the individual’s profession and particulars of age and gender are color coded on the projection side. Their primary aspiration, symbolized becomes the cover of the tube. One can view through this tube to discover their primary aspiration. This could also be achieved by a simple technique of using the cell phone torch as a source of light. Alternatively, these aspirations were projected on the wall to build an Aspiration collage! The installation projected a set of 118 wall aspirations and built a floor with the remaining tubes.

Constructed bit by bit over the process of detailed aspirational surveys and community participation at ColourBox in Dharavi, the installation was also exhibited at StudioX,Mumbai in 2015.

Sneha, a Mumbai - based non - profit organisation investing in women's health with its team of Community Officers mobilized the people to successfully execute this exercise. ColourBox is situated on 90 feet road, Dharavi and is managed by Sneha.

We invite you to share more ways of giving form to negotiations if you believe that this could result in consolidating community voices.


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