A three day public event of talks, photo exhibitions and lake walks to celebrate nature in cities.

Azim Premji University is hosting a three day public event called “Celebrating the Urban Commons.” The festival includes talks by the award winning musician and public figure TM Krishna, and Bengaluru-based scientists Prof. Harini Nagendra and Dr. Hita Unnikrishnan on Nov 25; photo exhibitions by award-winning photographer Arati Kumar-Rao and lake community groups from Kaikondrahalli, Puttenahalli and Jakkur lakes on Nov 24-26, and lake walks by ecologists Dr. Divya Uma and Dr. Hita Unnikrishnan around Kaikondrahalli and Sampangi lakes on Nov 26.

Nature in the city is an urban commons, a space used and managed by people and communities. This event celebrates the urban commons. It showcases the deep connections between urban communities and nature, and spotlights initiatives of citizen protection.

The talks are on 25th November 2017 between 9.30-12.30 at Alliance Francaise. Photo exhibitions are on 24th and 26th November 2017 between 11 AM -7 PM at Vismaya Art Gallery, Rangoli, Metro Art Centre, MG Road. Lake walks will be held on 26th November 2017 morning around Sampangi and Kaikondarahalli lakes. All events are free. However, prior registration is needed for the walks, where there is a cap on the number of participants.

TM Krishna, renowned Carnatic musician, writer, and author of “A Southern Music: Exploring the Karnatik Tradition”, is the recipient of the 2017 Magsaysay award for his contribution to bringing about social inclusiveness in culture. His writings and work are wide ranging, where he engages with issues of culture, religion, politics and environment. His recent song “Chennai Poromboke Paadal” raises awareness about the threats to Chennai’s urban commons, the Ennore Creek. His talk at the event is on “Liberating Urban Commons”.

Prof. Harini Nagendra is at the School of Development, Azim Premji University. She has conducted research on commons in forests and cities for over 20 years. Her book “Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future” examines ecological changes in the region from the 6th century onwards, identifying the urban commons as a sign of hope for Bengaluru’s sustainable future. Her talk “People and nature in cities” describes the history of Bengaluru’s growth, and shows how communities have been involved in the greening, creation of lakes and improvement of the commons for centuries, including as recently as the iconic movement for #steelflyoverbeda.

Hita Unnikrishnan is at TransDisciplinary University, Bengaluru India. Her work explores the changes in urban lake commons in Bengaluru. Her talk “Exploring nature in old Bengaluru – from Sampangi to Kanteerava” in Kannada will speak about the loss of urban commons in Bangalore with a focus on the story of the conversion of Sampangi lake to a sports stadium, to illustrate why urban commons are both important and threatened in the present day.

The talks are accompanied by a 3 day photo exhibition to celebrate Bengaluru’s urban commons – lakes, wooded groves, cemeteries, ponds and grazing lands. These commons can be found across cities even as urbanization proceeds at a frenetic pace. The exhibition will feature the work of Arati Kumar-Rao, award-winning photographer, writer and artist, who captures the changing yet enduring features of the urban commons in Bengaluru city. The exhibition will also highlight the work being done by different communities to protect the urban commons of Kaikondrahalli, Puttenahalli and Jakkur lakes in Bengaluru, and will be accompanied by games and other interactive sessions.

Two lake walks also form part of the events. A lake walk around Kaikondarahalli lake explores the life of insects. Dr. Divya Uma, ecologist and faculty at Azim Premji University, will reveal how insects lead their lives and how they may affect our own lives. Dr. Hita Unnikrishnan will conduct a Sampangi lake walk, providing a glimpse of what life around the lake was like when water was still present in it and how it supported diverse socio-cultural uses. The walk will show how the landscape has changed over time along with slices of the past in the form of structures that still exist, unknown yet magnificent. Both lake walks are bilingual – Kannada and English. Register here to participate in the walks.

Contact Details:

Seema Mundoli: seema.mundoli@apu.edu.in