If you happened to be near Brigade Road, Church Street or Mosque Road (Frazer Town) on the evening of September 9th and saw a colourful truck it may have well been the Bangalore Bachao wagon. The brainchild of some students from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, it is an art intervention about some of the critical environmental issues affecting Bangalore presently.
It highlights the efforts of Hasiru Usiru and its associated community organisations such as Environment Support Group, Trees for Free, that act against tree felling, lake privatisation and raise vital questions on policies impacting transportation, governance, etc. in Bangalore. According to Mana, Shilo Suleman and Rashmi three among the Srishti students who conceptualised Bangalore Bachao, they have planned it is a monthly visual campaign that includes an open, informal dialogue with citizens.
Starting in 1st block Koramangala around 5 PM, the eight participants loaded the “float on wheels” truck with art material in its open back and drove through the city attracting attention especially wherever they stopped. Over a glass of complimentary lemonade, they struck conversations with Bangaloreans about various issues like cyclist and pedestrian rights, dwindling public spaces, reducing greenery, infrastructure projects like the metro and flyovers and sustainability of lives and livelihoods. Importantly, they also tried to create awareness about organisations such as, CIVIC, the Rainwater Club, Praja, Bangalore Bikers and so on that people can approach and contribute to “saving the city”. They handed out flyers with a short overview of these organisations and their respective contact information thus making them more accessible to general public. They encapsulated their primary objectives in the slogans "you have a right to know" and "what can you do to help?" in English and Kannada banners on the truck.
Santhosh, one of the Hasiru Usiru volunteers who joined the event adds, “Around 7.45 PM while we were talking to some people on Brigade Road, we initially faced some flak from the Secretary of the Brigade’s Shop and Establishments Association for distributing the pamphlets. Eventually we won him over and he has promised us space and cooperation for the next edition”. He also mentioned about the K. R. Circle syndrome where people are led to believe that development is taking place but on the contrary it is destruction (at K.R. Circle trees made way for an enlarged circle).
Apart from supporting and joining their future campaigns, the Srishti students also invite suggestions on the route, pertinent locations and civic problems that they may have missed. “We had planned to touch Lalbagh, Avenue Road, Ulsoor Lake and Mekhri Circle too but insufficient time, driving space and parking spots deterred us. We hope to cover some of these areas next time!” echoed Mana and Shilo. ⊕