• Ayesha Dhall

"How-to" build integrated communities... a few examples!

Most of us would like to live peacefully with people of all strata - social, religious, economic, gender identities etc. We would like to associate with each other as fellow human beings, citizens of a country, good neighbours, colleagues at a workplace, schoolmates, friends. It is disturbing for me and many others when we have social unrest, protests, disagreements. Past few months my city has been having protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act repeatedly. The Supreme Court has now allocated interlocutors to try and resolve the issues, I am hoping the protests will end soon.

I believe we need to look at re-building our social fabric again. We need to get back to being an integrated community we used to be. I found two ideas on "how-to" do just that, simple ideas but very powerful.

Khirkee Voice is a newspaper which uses art, talk shows, photo features and many such mechanisms to bring a community of original and migrant residents of an urban locality in Delhi together. The area has a migrant population from other parts of India, Africa, Afghanistan, it has lots of members from the LGBTQ+ community. The hyperlocal newspaper engages with the residents of Khirkee urban village and tells their story in various forms. This kind of a deep dive into the lives of one's neighbours humanises them and reduces mistrust and misconceptions. This has lead to greater compassion between communities in the Khirkee village.

Memory Maps is another such project in Bengaluru by Aliyeh Rizvi. This project seeks to create awareness of shared history of Bengaluru's local neighborhoods. This project has reduced the segregation and hostility between people. Walks are conducted as part of the project, where residents reminisce and share memories linked to spots in the neighborhood. At the end of the walk, the residents draw a map to document or draw their memories. It would be interesting to observe a workshop like this, a local grocery store in a locality will have memories from a person who has spent many years and from one who has just moved in. Shared spaces have an extraordinary power to unite communities, a truly innovative initiative!

Two interesting ideas on operationalising integration of communities. I find these very inspirational!

Khirkee Voices at Delhi:

Memory Maps at Bengaluru:

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