HELP FINISH THE CONSTRUCTION OF A SHARED COMMUNITY SPACE

 

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CREATING COMMUNITY SPACES

To contribute to the Kondh's journey of reclaiming their communitarian way of life and self-sufficient economy

A community space will be built from locally sourced materials with the support of artisans from nearby villages. The space intends to welcome everyone in the community, facilitate inter-generational learning and ensure that the local youth and elders jointly build a new economy and a new society based on ecological consciousness.

Before borders divided states, papers divided land and life-sustaining sources became commodities, some societies flourished with the rhythm of nature. The fruits of soil and the flow of rivers were not just a part of their belonging, but more importantly, their being. Many indigenous communities from around the world continue to live in a symbiotic relationship with nature.

 

The Kondhs are one such community who stand as a strong testimony to this way of being. Through inter-generational learning, knowledge about ecological sustainability was shared for centuries. Indigenous knowledge systems, while being neglected by the mainstream education system, have their way of reinforcing community strength, identity and cultural autonomy. Such communities and their ethos face alienation and assault on different degrees, with discrimination, demonisation and disrespect as ‘backward’. Over the years, as the arms of such assault has reached more interior villages, there is a need for a space to articulate their response to the existential crisis.

 

The Kondhs

Kondhs are one of the indigenous communities in the southern region of Odisha. In the Kondh community, the traditional structure of the village is itself a symbol and expression of solidarity, as shared by one of the women. “The way we build our homes is a reflection of our community spirit. We help each other collect materials from the forest and construct rows of our homes with adjoining walls, facing each other so we could interact and see each other”.

The Kondhs build their houses in rows placed alongside each other, with each house sharing a common wall with the adjacent house. One single roof-ridge was maintained along the whole row of houses, which essentially gave the notion of one single home that was shared by the village. The internal solidarity in the building of every home developed local skills, which were passed on to future generations, rendering the growth of not just an individual but a community to a civilization, that rose out of deep collective consciousness.

NEED TO SUSTAIN & REVIVE THE KONDH CULTURE

Vernacular is a language. In the ‘language’ of traditional building, there is a ‘vernacular’, a dialect, and one can add to that. One brings in new modifications and additions based on current needs, just as new words keep on entering our spoken language. But if we give up the language, we lose the skill and knowledge of building with our hands; we lose the communitarian way of living and sharing our lives with one another; something that cannot be regained once lost.

Now different housing schemes have begun to replace such spaces with individualized houses made of bricks, concrete and asbestos.

The monetisation of housing, land and agriculture tugs at every aspect of their intimate relationship with their homes, their food, their health and their social and cultural lives. It is also making them dependent on external sources, as villagers are expected to afford waged labour, raw materials and transport costs.

In the context of the climate crisis, there is an added danger that concrete structures sanctioned under these schemes, in terms of design and technology, are ill-prepared for climatic pressures like increased occurrence of severe weather changes, shifts in rainfall pattern, increasing natural disasters, severe water shortages, etc.

A BEGINNING

These communities are not voiceless, but we fail to listen. There is a need to create a space, for us to listen, have a dialogue and envisage a collective future. The Kondhs have agreed to support each other in reviving the traditional system of labour sharing and in building earthen homes using locally available materials.

Living Farms, in association with women and men from the community and ecological architects, has been working with local youth on the underlying ethos and philosophy of communitarian way of living. It is an attempt to study the science and technology involved in building earthen structures in the context of Kondh society.

An action research is being carried out to evolve locally appropriate solutions to climate crisis in the context of their homes. It would contribute to the ongoing efforts of Kondhs to be self-reliant, reclaim their shared spaces, and revive their ethics of caring and sharing.

A SPACE TO GATHER, LEARN & SHARE

The main structure is built from locally sourced materials with the support of artisans from nearby villages. The space intends to welcome everyone in the community,facilitate inter-generational learning and ensure that the local youth and elders jointlybuild a new economy and a new society based on ecological consciousness.

Once completed, it can accommodate 75 people, and will also have living spaces to welcome other indigenous communities, so there can be a fair and free exchange of learnings and stories. At this juncture, even though the building has been constructed, the infrastructure is not sufficient to host or facilitate any long or short term workshops for Adivasis, as it requires waterproofing, sanitary and drainage systems, a community kitchen and living spaces. We invite you to join this ollaborative effort and seek your support to raise funds to meet the infrastructural demands of the space.

Work Completed

Shared Community Hall

To be used as a space for learning and sharing so the local youth to hone their knowledge and skills

Machine Room

For milling and grinding machines - to revive the diversity of crops and grains that are native to this land

Agricultural Land

To grow crops required for consumption at the space and reduce gas dependency

WORK TO BE COMPLETED FUNDS REQUIRED
Roofing – Repair, Waterproofing and Maintenance (1,350 sq ft) Rs. 3 lakhs
Waterproofing Basement (1,800 sq ft) Rs. 10 lakhs
Sanitary and drainage system development (inclusive of 4 Bathrooms and 4 Toilets) Rs. 7 lakhs
Community Kitchen (600 sq ft) and Living spaces (1,200 sq ft) Rs. 10 lakhs
Total Rs. 30 lakhs