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Urban Colloquium

6th Meet

Dear all, 30th June 2012… yes, we had UDC’s meeting on the theme of ‘Invisible Cities’! There was a minor goof-up with the venue not being open for us until post 5pm but apologies for that. The meet was attended by Prem Balasubramanian,Bharath Gandhi PalanisamyRoshan ToshniwalBalaji Mohan RajkumarMahesh Radhakrishnan and yours truly… looks like we need more girls here! Nevertheless, we got off to a good start with a discussion on what makes up the engine that drives our cities… transportation infrastructure, utilities, energy systems, natural systems, built form, open spaces and the likes. We also had a list of the intangibles and maybe the esoteric as well which included governance, planning, economy, heritage & culture, policy & regulations and crime??? Well, Prem still owes us an explanation for that last item! Image Our discussions were facilitated by 3 short videos that were screened. The first one is titled ‘Where are we to walk’ and is a short by Parisar, a civil society organization working on lobbying and advocacy for sustainable development in Pune. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGg-yDQqMwQ&feature=player_embedded This video resonated well with our discussion on how the pedestrian is always marginalized in Indian cities despite the fact that modal splits indicate a far larger percentage of people who walk than people who drive motorized vehicles. Image The second video was a heart wrenching trailer for “Dilli”, a short documentary film produced by the Robin Raina Foundation (RRF), about the untold stories of urbanization in Delhi. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyypqZPs2CE The documentary itself is an unlisted video on YouTube so if you like the trailer and want to see the whole thing, send me a message here for the link. This video was an extension of our discussion on whether affordable housing counts for essential physical infrastructure in our cities and the morphology of slums and squatter settlements. The 3rd video was more a trigger to get some ideas going in terms of what can be done at the city level… titled ‘City of Sydney’s plans for Green infrastructure’, it’s a neat one that showcases Sydney’s comprehensive planning approach to its infrastructure needs as they move towards a green economy. Daibhi Mac Domhnaill are you watching?? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4xWdynWaho Image So what came out of the meet? There was consensus for some grass root level action to fix…. (drum roll)… our sidewalks! We are looking at something on the lines of ‘reversible urbanism’… a temporary, fun and quick fix demonstration of how our sidewalks can be better places. Bharath has taken responsibility to put together a team from among us and take a lead on this initiative. He will be sending out a sheet shortly where those interested can add any ideas/ skills/ resources you are willing to give to this initiative. Prem is out there talking to some folks who can help us with executing this. I would love to hear any other ideas/ suggestions on how to go about this and a lot of active participation! Raise your hands if you want great sidewalks! Over and out.

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About Vidhya Mohankumar

Vidhya Mohankumar is an architect and urban designer with over a decade of work experience in India, Ireland and the United States and a passion for creating livable and sustainable cities. She is the founder of Urban Design Collective (UDC), a non-profit organization that works as a collaborative platform to create better cities through community engagement. Vidhya also advocates sustainable development through training and capacity building programmes for various stakeholder groups and also within academia through her association with a number of universities as guest faculty. In other parallel albeit real universes, she is a wishful artist, an avid wanderer, a constant gardener and a newly enthused cook.

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