From theory to action: Time to shake off the inertia? March 10, 2012

I admit I’m an armchair change maker. I perceive the problems I see around me, and because I have some training in the field of urban planning and because I can string an argument together, I find myself talking and writing about a whole bunch of urban problems. Of late, many readers have posted comments that ask me to consider taking actual steps towards addressing these.

To be honest, much as I like the idea of activism and much as I believe that community mobilization is the key to many of the positive changes we want to see, I do not really see myself in the shows of the activist. I have had a little experience working directly with communities on planning and housing projects, and while I enjoyed the process, I was not called upon to innovate or mobilize people in any way. As a designer, researcher or consultant, its easy to gather impressions and then carry your ideas and impressions outside of the community to put together your report. Essentially, I am comfortable behind the scenes, some sort of pseudo academic. Is this wrong? Or is it a legitimate role to play as well?

This blog has had no larger purpose, except to force myself to write everyday. But is there a logical next step. If so, what is it? Professional writer/blogger, academic research, a book? O is it some sort of method to seed community initiatives, consulting to communities and neighborhoods?

I do not know, and as of now, I am going to continue to focus on the writing. But I can feel the cogs turning inside my head. Let’s see what comes of it!

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4 thoughts on “From theory to action: Time to shake off the inertia? March 10, 2012

  1. Mukta, you should keep writing…… those who take the ‘activist’ role, have to be very focused and they almost always loose the bigger picture, this is in their advantage as a change maker…… but the so called “armchair change maker” is also required….. only an arm chair change maker can see things in a very diverse way…. this is like the academia, can do lot of research, but can’t touch ground……… they both may look different, sometimes one may crib about the other, but both are required and are equally important…..

  2. But I definitely think that you should very soon seriously consider the academic end also – (1) academics makes the research, writing and thinking more disciplined – the emotional observations have to tally with the factual, and to establish legitimate conditions for change making, even academically, needs that discipline I guess, where you are forced to read and refer to what peers are saying (i mean the whole referencing business to establish an argument or negate it etc.), and (2) planning needs good academicians, because one of my primary problems with the way planning was taught at places like SPA was that there were too many people believing in too many “handbooks” and “manuals” which were not even rooted for India, and there was no deep thinking at all, it was all action, action, action without thinking, and (3) instead of the many different observations, academics definitely provides the serious platform to be the string for the beads, if you know what I mean.

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