These citizens are making a change in Bengaluru with art, satire and conservation
Through satire, art and land donations, these Bengalureans are charting a peaceful course to conservation
Artecology Initiative, How to be a Fig
Recently, in something that sounds like it’s out of a satire novel, a government body headed by the state minister ordered the pruning of cluster fig trees (Ficus racemosa) along a pilgrimage route in a Northern Indian state, terming them inauspicious. Roused by this, Artecology Initiative, a collective of artistes and scientists who have come together to create environmental awareness through art, launched the project titled, How to be a Fig?
“How to be a Fig? is a collaborative project between scientists and artistes. Inspired by Mike Shanahan’s book on figs titled Ladders to Heaven, this dance theatre piece aims to unravel the mystery of these magnificent trees,” says Abhisheka Krishnagopal, who conceptualised the project. The artistes express through the human body the complex role that the tree plays in the ecosystem. The performers are an eclectic bunch of individuals belonging to professions ranging from science to competitive cycling and art to engineering. The performance, which was staged last week, was choreographed by Veena Basava-rajaiah, while scientists Mike Shanahan and Vignesh Venkateswaran also collaborated on the performance.
Danish Sait, actor and comedian
Danish Sait, RJ, voice-over artiste and more popularly known as ‘Nograj’, will be debuting as an actor with the film Humble Politician Nograj in November. He talks of sustainability but with a different perspective. “To be able to grow and evolve is also a way of being sustainable,” he says when asked about what he thinks of the eco-conscious movement. “When I was a child, I remember playing cricket in Domlur. There used to be a huge playground where you now see the flyover that connects Inner Ring Road to Indira Nagar. Now, everything has changed,” says the actor.
As Nograj, Danish has always raised questions about the city’s fast decreasing green cover. Be it the #SteelFlyoverBeda protest or the state of the roads when it rains, Danish has managed to strike a chord with people with his take on Bengaluru’s changing landscape. “Everyone keeps complaining about the traffic, the weather, the roads... Instead of complaining, why can’t we follow the rules and start a dialogue. Only when we discuss will we find a solution. That’s the way to being sustainable,” he says.
Santosh Kumar, Elephant Pocket
A couple of years ago, biker Santosh Kumar bought a chunk of land near Bandipur and decided to restore and give it back to nature. Thus, the project, Elephant Pocket was born. “We now have about 40 acres of land, but it is still a work in progress,” says Santosh.
The plan is to restore the land to its original form. The land is near the border of the National Park and is mainly used by the locals for cultivation. But due to cattle grazing and human intervention, it was not in great shape. Elephant Pocket has fenced the area off (which stops the cattle grazing), planted over 10,000 saplings, harvested rain water and installed solar panels. “We are not yet at the stage where we can introduce the rescue elephants on to the property because they have certain environmental requirements. But we are working towards it,” he explains.
The long term goal is to create a blueprint that others who want to do this can follow. “We have documented the process for anyone to follow — whoever has the resources to buy plots of land and is willing to do this for nature. Maybe someday we can have several Elephant Pockets across the country,” signs off Santosh.