I undertook one of the most disputed, politicized, and challenging interventions in Lalitpur city.This land had been ill-handled, exploited for 40 years. The layers of social conflicts, age-old inertia, unresolved issues, power dynamics, urban politics, and vested interests robbed the social, economic, and ecological advancement. I did community meetups to discuss the future of this place. During this session elderly revealed old memories of them playing in this open field. Many unresolved issues had deserted this land for 40 years. In addition, local authorities with vested interests were trading this land with corporates. The playing out of urban politics in favor of partisanship hindered my initiative. Residents too had their own agendas and internal issues. The hangovers of the past and mundane frustrations turned against themselves and embroiled the conflicts. Some of them refrained from participating and gave up hope.
Despite hardships, frequent interruptions, I brought the stakeholders and the user’s committee on board and moved the project (urban forest) forward. We were able to preserve the land from encroachment, but could not work towards its improvement. The project kicked off but there occurred multiple work ethics problems and misconduct in construction materials. Unfortunately, emergent social problems re-occurred and destabilized the mission. I reported the irresponsible construction, miscalculation, and misappropriation of resources in relation to the selection and use of materials. I tried to reframe the issues and determine the right motivation to achieve excellence but they were not conducive to improvement. In fact, I was asked to comply with it. My propositions were overlooked. Lastly, I terminated the contract stating – I can no more rely on this work ethic. Yet the user’s committee asked me to be flexible and continued the work with the same contractor whom I terminated. So I took a personal stance and withdraw voluntarily.I did so with integrity to defend my conceptual philosophy, aesthetics, and poetry. Poor standards and inept abilities have flawed and delayed the project leaving it unfinished and undesirable.
In this regard, I submitted a report to the mayor weighing on affirmative action and organizational improvement as an antidote to negatively constructed social problems. In this case, a group of people opposed to collective participation/assets triggered disparity, negative behaviors, and systematic biases. Was it generative in the service others? The only answer to this question is a resounding “NO.” Whose interests does it serve then? Such vested interests, irregularities, and petty politics demand system-wide accountability and improvements.
The city-level green infrastructure project was assigned through clientelism. Such development projects have become a way for misusing public budgets. Given the inertial characteristic of a divided society, such influences inevitably weakened a community’s capacity to bounce forward. The neighborhood quality influence the perspective of my piece varying upon the place, context, and community conditions. Unresolved issues and hangovers of the past that are compounded over time have an overarching effect on social perceptions and behavioral dimensions. The mundane frustrations reflect on the choices, reasoning, and decision-making of some disordered neighborhoods. Moreover, the inertial characteristic of divided neighborhoods and negative influences and inequitable engagement recedes the community bonding. They seemingly don’t realize the collective effort and liaise with the meaningful work to be realized over time. It was disheartening to see some people with vested interests, and pettie politics hindering the shared vision.
Though the construction work is going on with poor standards and inept abilities.*As an artist I see it as an experiment to assess our current reality, responses; what works, and what doesn’t in envisioning a better future. Perhaps we can open pathways to recovery so that foundational restoration can take place. I wonder what’s possible out of this mess.
I am writing a descriptive history and processes behind this experimental project.