Let Us Dialogue, Reflect and Create Our Destinies!

Nitin Paranjape

Abhivyakti Media for Development is located in Nashik, northern Maharashtra, India. Presently, we are involved in promoting diverse media forms and messages, originating from different sources. Our vision is to create multiple exchange nodes, so that a pluralistic media environment emerges. We feel this is necessary to strengthen dialogue and involve/evolve various learning communities in regaining control of their lives. In this article, I will share how Abhivyakti is working to nurture learning societies, which are rich in group media. Transforming the role of the community worker and opening up a variety of spaces for local dialogues, expressions and relationships is vital to this process.

 

The Challenges of the Mass Media and Mainstream Development

Abhivyakti seeks to strengthen media and communication resources for promoting people-centred developmental actions, mainly in communities in Maharashtra. Abhivyakti views people-centered development as a process in which people can fulfill their basic political, social, economic and cultural aspirations, by deciding for themselves the type of society they want to live in. This is a major shift away from the mainstream concept of development, where "BIG" assumes significance (big dams for example) and people are left in the lurch — never considered worthy or capable enough to decide for themselves and their communities.

We work with grassroots groups and try to enhance their effectiveness as community workers by (1) focussing on their roles as communicators and (2) exploring possible meanings and uses of media to generate community learning. However, what we have discovered is that the conventional methods of communication, used by community workers at the grassroots, need to change. Most community workers see themselves as the information providers and view the people they work with as mere listeners. They assume that people do not have anything to contribute in the dialogue process — which is based on two-way communication, which respects diverse opinions and points of view, and which builds on the contexts and experiences of the people.

Instead of pursuing such dialogues, most community workers seem to follow the example of the mass media. They, like it, circulate information in a one-way flow and do little to contribute to building on what people know from their everyday experiences. In the media, as with most development projects, there is very little space for reflection — as one program is followed by another, and another — and hardly any scope for discussion, which might help to link our personal experiences to the issues presented. Community workers rely solely on providing information by word of mouth, in a one-way mode, and think that it will be easily understood by the people they address. They fail to recognise both the potential advantages of the dialogue process and the other sources of information that local peoples are being inundated with.

Today, the exposure to satellite TV, which is reaching the far corners of the country, is changing urban and rural peoples’ perceptions and understanding of reality. The sources of different information influencing the community are not restricted to community workers alone. Political parties, mass media, multinational companies now crowd the community landscape with a mix of messages, which subtly undermine the talent and potential of the people. Their agenda is to propagate their vested interest and to breed passivity, in order to maintain and enhance their power and control. And since programming is determined by TRP ratings, the major emphasis has been on glitz and glamour to help promote a consumeristic environment. People are viewed as mere numbers — as voters, as consumers, as sexual objects. They are not considered competent enough to manage their own lives. The constant lure of commodities and the culture of self-benefit has undermined and destroyed local values of sharing and caring and the collective spirit of decision-making.

The mass media and mainstream development also promote a culture of silence, in which babu-followers are encouraged, who are rewarded from time to time with a false sense of security. Very rarely do the issues of the grassroots occupy center stage. There is simply no space to hear the voices or concerns of the social majorities. People have grown to view themselves as mere receivers and expect ready-made solutions to their problems from the external world. Sometimes even the community workers fall into this trap and take on the onus of deciding for the people. As a result, there is hardly any scope for imagination, creativity and a critical outlook. In such an atmosphere, group media can play a crucial role.

A recent experience helps to illustrate these points. The village Jamgoan, which is near Sinnar, receives the highest rainfall due to its geographical vantage point. Yet, it has to rely on external tankers for its supply of water, just six months after the monsoons. To solve this perennial problem, villagers have been told to get a government scheme, without taking into account what is possible locally and what the people want and can do if they come together. In one of our meetings with the farmers, it transpired that the water problem could be solved by cleaning the village pond, which was choked with dirt. For years, the pond was not serving its purpose, but the people were not responding to this challenge. In the meeting, they clearly identified the solution but were unwilling to come together; they were weary of sharing the benefits of their joint action.

The community worker in Jamgoan village decided to use the medium of folk storytelling to draw the villagers into a dialogue process. This dialogue sought to open up new space to explore possible ways of solving their water crisis. Among other things, the fables illustrated the ill-effects of choosing to selfishly work alone. They sparked new conversations, in which people spoke with intensity and listened to each other share their experiences concerning the enormity of the problem of water scarcity. Ultimately, the villagers agreed to clean the pond together, but the work is yet to begin.

In this case, group media was able to draw out different points of views and to highlight the need for a collective effort to solve the complex problem. Yet, it was apparent that people were reluctant to work together because of certain dehumanising processes of the past. Competitiveness, parochial political leadership and corruption had destroyed the fabric of this community. Commodification of land and commercial interests had created divisions and changed the nature of villagers’ relationships with each other. Caste and religious identities have also become more rigid and isolating, thereby hampering social interdependence and harmony. In the dialogue, we realized how important it was to focus on the values of human-ness, of cooperation, care and compassion. At the same time, we made it a point to encourage the villagers to see themselves as responsible and capable of finding answers to this serious problem which they had discussed.

In some ways, Jagmaon is not unique. In Maharashtra, we see many communities at a crossroads: their historical cumulative knowledge not finding any takers in the globalised world (unless they can patent it and sell it), and their ways of learning being severely under-valued in the schooled literate environment. As a result, the vast majority of the people, inclusive of the community workers, do not value themselves, their individual and collective strengths, their dignity and inner resources, their ways of management and governance, their own authority and leadership. The challenge lies in restoring the balance, to open up spaces and generate dialogues that invite people to:

- engage and participate in local issues;

- see connections to exploitative local, national and global practices and frameworks;

- listen to themselves and others and to value their perspectives and learning cultures;

- evolve their own ways of governing their community life.

We see an opportunity for group media to help create a learning environment that leads to the re-emergence and sustenance of diverse communities. Also, we see the possibility of using different media forms to elicit latent creative resources and talents. We feel that if these are nurtured, they can lead to new visions of meaningful community life. At the same time, we also need to look at mass media critically — as critique and critique are not strangers to each other – to understand how it influences our lives. A diverse media platform can help liberate creative potential as well as encourage a critical outlook. Both are necessary for the healthy growth of our whole selves and of our communities.

 

The Power of Dialogues and Relationships

Communities in Maharashtra’s villages are not homogenous. We look upon this diversity, not as a problem, but as an opportunity for a variety of ideas, practices and perspectives to interact and co-evolve, to generate dynamism vital for life. Yet, the erosion in rural values, the growing struggle for livelihood and the gradual degradation in the natural resource base have made life very difficult for many people. The time for coming together and dialoguing is becoming rare — even more so, when matters concern issues of long-term nature. There is a sense of hopelessness about the future and lack of confidence to engage with the pressing issues that confront communities. It appears that people lack faith that they can generate solutions, either individually or collectively.

The elimination of peoples’ self- and collective-esteem is due to several deep-rooted factors. Modern governance, which vests power with the state decision-making structures, hardly values human beings. The social majorities are treated like objects, nay robots, who must obey commands, while a few collect all the "goodies" of the state. This set-up produces widespread frustration and insecurity. Further, the market’s emphasis on consumerism caters to individual desires, thus undermining collective ways of simple living. Competition and narrow economic interests further distance people from each other. Lastly, school education and the narrow focus on literacy legitimize only one way of learning and disregard/devalue traditional forms of learning. This has divided rural communities into two sets of people: the literates, who are easily absorbed by the market, and the illiterates, whose knowledge is not valued and who are treated with contempt by the Nation. Suffice to say, what emerges is not a pretty picture of the state of rural life in India.

In such situations, cross-cultural dialogues can help to bring to fore different social realities that exist, and, in turn, challenge the hegemonic domination of a favored few. These dialogues value participation of people from diverse backgrounds and try to evolve shared learning among them. They seek to create an atmosphere of non-judgmental acceptance and openness. Because they are fueled by our own reflections, experiences and life dreams, people begin to develop confidence in their thoughts and capacities. Dialogues grow on give and take, allowing relationships to be nurtured and re-shaped.

Thus, through dialogue, one sees a movement away from the passivity created by mass media and the prevalent individualistic education system — with a pre-determined, uniform and fragmented approach of teaching — to a collective process of learning. In our work, we have experienced how marginalised communities, hesitant at first to share their experiences, later gain by listening, observing and feeling the dialogue process. They learn to open up, to share their stories of struggle and suffering, and to make linkages between their experiences and macro-realities.

Another example serves to demonstrate the power of dialogue. We were working with girl students living in a hostel who were shy, reserved, and lived a life of fear and tension. Using varied media materials, which created conditions for discussion, an Abhivyakti community worker was able to build trust in the group and involve the girls in sharing their concerns, anxieties and fears. Over a period of one year, the group started discussing freely, listening to each other, and feeling confident and excited.

The viewing of a few films like Roshni and Arman, which discussed sexual harassment, encouraged two girls to reveal their stories in the group. A few teachers had molested the girls on many occasions and had threatened the girls to keep quiet. Emboldened by the group’s support, the girls discussed how they could seek justice. At first, they requested the community worker to complain to the school authorities. The community worker instead motivated them to try on their own and discussed possible approaches with them. They spent a lot of time understanding the issue, why it happens, and what is needed to restore a sense of security amongst the residents of the hostel. Finally, both the girls took the matter to the school trustees. This created a noisy stir and even more threats. The teachers even accused our facilitator of causing the situation. However, the authorities saw the truth and suspended the teachers. Both the girls felt elated and narrated their joy and courage to the group.

 

Re-defining Our Roles as "Community Workers"

In a dialogue, the role of the community worker is crucial, for it is he or she who can help to sensitively nurture the process forward by supporting an environment of trust, care and belonging. However the ability to facilitate a meaningful dialogue depends on a self-change, a shift from being at the center to being with the community. This change in attitude and approach begins by closely re-examining one’s own assumptions and blocks. Usually, these are related to their institutional role — the community workers are accustomed to being in control, as the information provider and sole decision-maker. In contrast, in a dialogue, the community worker must take care not to impose his or her agenda on the group, but rather to co-create a learning environment, in which all participants discover their importance as active members. This means that community workers must seek to dilute power (their own and that of local leaders) when it becomes too dominating. And they must commit to continuity, working over a period of time. Both of these actions help ensure that people’s participation is respected as a core value and is not based on any dubious power equations or tokenism.

The emphasis on collective exploration creates opportunities for everyone to share their concerns and feel mutually energized. The community worker has to learn to involve everyone in both contributing and in listening, and not feel satisfied by the participation of the vocal few. Understanding the feelings of others, especially those who are anxious, is crucial. Group media can help the community worker with this, since not everyone is comfortable expressing themselves only in words. Community workers must also learn to flow with the dialogue gradually, raising critical reflections for the members to discuss freely. The dialogue moves from awareness to analysis and explores possibilities of actions. The entire process is enveloped around values like respect and appreciation for the other, care, cooperation, trust and inter-dependence. These values place a premium on learning that arises out of mutuality. We have tried to nurture these values amongst ourselves and have tried to share them with others through our various projects.

Indeed, Abhivyakti itself – its office and its networks – is an alternative learning space for exploring these values and developing this new vision of a community worker. Abhivyakti can be seen as a kind of new community college: where people come and work on different short and long-term projects which benefit their communities; where diverse people come together and share their ideas and concerns; where self- and collective- learning is at the heart. We stress the need to see work holistically, and not as something fragmented from our daily lives. Therefore, we place emphasis on learning from every situation: one’s work, group discussions, workshops, meal time, etc. However, it does take considerable time to confront and challenge beliefs that hamper self- and organizational-growth and dialogue in our members, such as the devaluation of manual labour, hierarchies and selfish manipulation. Unlearning is thus critical. For this, we have created many forums, which allow the Abhivyakti team members to develop their own perspectives and knowledges, by reflecting on their personal experiences. Members are encouraged to speak without fear, to understand each other’s feelings and needs, and participate in the collective decision-making process.

As I write this, I remember a meeting with grassroots workers held in Nashik. After the meeting, a few people came up to me and said that my tone was not right. They were not able to pinpoint exactly, but I reflected whether my tone intimidated them. And if so, why? Did it originate from my assumption that I was superior, because I was facilitating the meeting and hence in the center, in control? Had I considered them as equals, who were capable and worthy? Probably not. I assumed their expertise and exposure was not on par with mine. The feedback was important for my learning and my growth as a human being. The experience reminded me to treat everyone with respect, irrespective of their background; it reminded me of the need to break the hierarchies that have formed in the NGO world. Further, I understood that I should reflect this attitude in my being: my tone, my body language, my language (and its pace), etc. I also learned that I need not be afraid of my anxieties, that they can be shared with the group, and that anxieties can not be replaced with aggression!

 

Generating Diverse Opportunities for Dialogue

For many, communication is the means to some end, but for us at Abhivyakti, making communication enabling is the main focus of our work. What we have realized through our work is that modern forms of communication are too close to power and authority to be genuinely participatory. How can media be designed to support a two-way interaction and sharing, without generating inhibitions, anxiety and fear? Genuine communication seems to depend on a process of building and sustaining trusting relationships. Such relationships help create an enabling environment, where views and perspectives, debates and differences, innovations and challenges, individual freedom and collective spirit, are all valued as essential and are fostered. They give us hope that a just and democratic learning society can emerge.

Group media, when it encourages people to find their own voice, can help each human being to realize the uniqueness of his or her identity, as well as how they can build their individual and collective worth and lead a life of dignity. We are, of course, challenged by a world, which continuously narrows our worth into dehumanized categories of "backward," "illiterates," "vote-banks" or "consumers." But as a group of media activists, we feel there are many ways to support and promote the varied expressions, identities and relationships of those who are excluded/ oppressed.

Unfortunately, the kinds of community learning processes that dynamically generate such expressions largely go unnoticed. Sometimes, un-institutionalized learning spaces generated by group media evoke consternation. When compared to the dominant school system of "teaching" — where knowledge is recorded in textbooks and validated by external authorities and experts — there is a chance that natural spaces of learning might look superfluous to people. This has more to do with schooling’s assumption about learning: that it can take place only in a structured/controlled setting. However, our experiences at Abhivyakti have shown us that this is anything but true.

For example, during a dialogue in Saikhindi village, in Sangamner block, we attempted to foster a community learning process to help the youth re-discover their self-worth, which has been ignored by the adult members. The group process invariably experienced interruption. Youth members worried too much about how their meetings were being perceived by the other villagers. They shared their inability to deal with the ridicule and scoff meted out to them. The community worker avoided giving a centralised "right" answer, and instead tried to generate discussion on how the youth looked at this situation and dealt with it. Together, they sought to discover answers, which sprung from their inner selves.

We believe that there is an urgent need to generate more such un-institutionalized community learning spaces, which value our inner resources and our local resources: How do we think, learn, observe, function and relate? What do we have within us, in the community, our heritage, in the natural resources that sustain us, in the ways we govern ourselves and our communities? We do not expect the mainstream mass media, which relies on commercial interests and supports consumeristic values, to meet the diverse learning needs of our society. Our efforts are now geared towards breaking away from its monopoly and its treatment of people as "ignorant receivers," and in creating diverse un-institutionalized learning spaces which value the creative potentials of people. We have developed the following multi-pronged strategy to redeem human values and connectednes.

 

Documentating and Sharing Alternative Media

Part of our work at Abhivyakti has been documenting, through the medium of video, local initiatives, struggles and viewpoints ignored by the mainstream media and bringing these in public consciousness. These videos are shared with communities and NGOs and used to spark off new dialogues. For example, our news video on the Narmada submergence was able to portray the non-violent struggle and resilience of the people of the Narmada valley, who were fighting to save their ecosystem and ways of life. Media screenings have brought people together and generated opportunities for them to feel connected and organised, to build their own understandings of issues affecting their lives.

Unfortunately, independent filmmakers and alternative productions in India suffer from having few opportunities to reach viewers. They lack the established channels, networks, and easily available dissemination structures of the mainstream media. Our experience of regularly screening documentaries among grassroots groups has been mixed. While the need to create stronger mechanisms for dissemination is accepted, initiatives to organize regular screenings are still not forthcoming in Nashik and in North Maharashtra. Yet, when such screenings have taken place, they have catalyzed dialogue on different social, political and cultural themes, as well as supported self-growth and co-learning.

 

Opening Up Diverse Intergenerational Interactions

Conscious spaces and efforts to discuss important issues in community life are fading away. Yet, instead of letting others take control of peoples’ lives and decide on issues for them, group media creates an environment that enables them to look at an issue from many perspectives and evolve their own ways to tackle it.

For example, parents of Nashik have created a Conscious Parents Forum to understand their role in nurturing the potential of their children and enhancing the quality of their family life. Taking examples from their lives and reflecting on them, parents discovered ways to understand themselves and their relationships with their spouses and children. Regular meetings, workshops, publications and collective reading were some of the activities organised in Nashik. From parents’ reflection emerged the concept of "social parenting," which went beyond familial boundaries to consider parenting as an attitude.

Parents collectively created a space called Khelghar (House of Play), where they could engage with children in organizing and promoting learning. Khelghar was an open space where children gathered every evening for one-and-a-half hours. About 100 children from diverse backgrounds came to the Khelghar, which also had about 4-5 parent volunteers, each involved with a group of 10-20 children. For parents, it was an opportunity to understand the enormous untapped potential of children. They began to see how they could involve themselves physically, creatively, emotionally and intellectually in learning about children, their own limitations and blocks, and how they could act, form relationships and create supportive contexts that would strengthen the learning abilities of children. Through group exercises, parents and children found new ways to understand themselves, their peers and their world better.

Founded on the values of humanness, creativity and freedom, Khelghar fostered a non-competitive spirit amongst children. Here, children could decide for themselves what they wanted to do on a particular day; here, they could experiment, take risks, learn to negotiate, and evolve their own games. During Khelghar, children formed relationships, fought amongst themselves and learned to resolve their disputes. Children loved its atmosphere, and a vibrant community life was experienced by both the parents and children.

Parents also unlearned a lot. From deciding for children, which was a hard habit to discard, they slowly learned to value the decisions made by the children on their own. They learned to curb their scolding habit, if children created a din or broke something, and evolved unique ways to deal with children. They learned to listen and to speak with sensitivity, differently with different children. They learned to drop their plans in favor of what children had decided on their own. They learned to value children as they were – each with their own unique set of values – without trying to label them. If children had problems functioning, they involved other parents to understand the child holistically. Parents’ relationship amongst themselves also developed with the passage of time. More importantly, for the parents, especially housewives, their role in the Khelghar enhanced their self-worth. They began to view themselves as important in their own lives. There were no fixed procedures and guidelines to manage the Khelghars; the experience itself became the context for growing future directions.

 

Facilitating Critical Media Awareness

Parents’ interests also opened the door to the need to initiate media education in local schools of Nashik. Concerned about the TV watching habits of their children, they wondered whether anything could be done to lure the children away from TV. The media education intervention in schools was born out of this need.

Given the growing influence of TV on urban children, our endeavor has been to raise the critical awareness of the students about media and equip them with the knowledge, attitude and skills to relate to media influence in a balanced way. Our experiences of interacting with students of classes seventh to ninth highlight media’s influence in shaping the behaviour of children. Images in media confirm the stereotypical patterns of various relationships, particularly between man and woman, and also influence children’s attitudes towards caste, class, beauty, history, religion, sex, violence, and physical appearance. What is also a matter of concern is the rigidity of thought discovered in the views expressed by the students, especially related to gender roles. Children don’t easily accept that men also cook at home or that men can be gentle, and that they cry.

Abhivyakti’s media education sessions are structured sessions based on a media syllabus, especially designed for middle-school students. The methodology employed in conducting sessions is based on the principles of participation and learning-through-sharing. We not only explore students’ diverse view-points, stories and perceptions of TV programmes but also encourage free-flowing creations in posters, plays and paintings, based on their own interests and desires. Children actively take part and discover joy in their own and collective efforts. Their efforts are free from external judgments. Instead, children themselves assess their views freely, often noisily and bubbling with energy.

We have discovered that they appreciate the learning process in which they themselves are the originators, as well as the appreciators/analyzers of knowledge and creation. Many parents have told us how their children’s understanding has changed, as they now relate to the media in confident and self-assured ways. One example is telling. Children often narrate how parents refuse to share information about sexuality, how they shut off the TV as a preventive measure. When discussing an advertisement for a contraceptive, a ten-year-old child from a middle class home said, "It would be better not to close the TV and instead tell us that the contraceptive would be of use when we grow up!"

In the media education exercises, children enjoy learning through doing. For example, they individually mark or cross off the advertisements in the newspapers and enumerate and compare them with news or information items. The children are often shocked when they discover the dominance of advertisements. And when they see that the pattern is the same across newspapers, they automatically start discussing how little information is given by newspapers and how advertisements control print space and news selection.

Our experience indicates that the methodology of learning-by-exploring is effective in different schools and among the different socio-economic backgrounds. Children relate easily to our media education volunteers, because they treat children as humans. The relationship is based on equality, openness and trust; the volunteers don’t act like experts. Learning evolves out of interaction and each child’s discovery is valued as unique. There are no tests, no labels of best students, no competitions, and no right or wrong answers. Thus, media education sessions are enjoyed immensely by the children. This form of collaborative learning builds the self-esteem and interdependence of the children, in sharp contrast to the selfish individualism that dominates most school education.

While the students get quite engaged in such exercises, we still have not succeeded in motivating the teachers and the school to appreciate and adopt the media education on their own. Some schools or teachers see the need and are willing to experiment. But such cases are rare. On our part, we have not made enough efforts to dialogue with the school system and discuss different ideas of learning with the teachers. It is a direction we are considering for the future.

 

Locally Generating Group Media

Abhivyakti believes in creating a plural media environment made up of different practises and rooted in people’s cultural contexts. We ourselves have consciously fashioned media that are low in cost, need no technological apparatus, and which emerge from the needs of a particular community. Such media are made from local material, are easy to understand, and remain flexible to suit different groups. They can be easily transported and even replicated. In fact, there is no need to mass-produce them, as they can be easily produced by anyone. Some of the media forms are puppets, flannel story (pictures stuck on the flannel cloth), flip charts, masks, role plays, songs, pamphlets, among others. Many community workers have told us about the change in their attitude towards these media, after understanding their use and after having learned to make them. We have seen a shift in their role, from being passive users to creative facilitators, and have found that the chances of using such media increase considerably, if the users are also the creators.

In fact, being in creative mode transforms people. Recently, one of the youth groups of Nandurbar, which was meeting regularly to discuss issues of concern, decided to reach out to other youth in nearby villages to share their interests. They chose street play as the medium to express their perspective on gender. After much dialogue and anxiety, they agreed to evolve a script on their own, but with a condition that some expert from the city would give inputs on performance. Soon they were discussing gender-related issues, especially how women were discriminated against. The three girls in the group of nine gave the discussions a personal touch, which inspired others to share their stories as well. After a form based on a popular movie was finalised, the Abhivyakti facilitator asked whether the group would like to try the performance themselves without the support of an expert. The script which they had created on their own proved decisive in changing their mindset. "If they could evolve a script, why couldn’t they direct a play?" was the unanimous decision.

The play got underway, and through trial and error, peer feedback and questions from the facilitator, the play was shaped. Now confident, the group toured the villages on bikes, performed before tribal youth and people, discussed issues of mutual interest, reviewed their "shows" and returned with loads of confidence and motivation. Slowly, the group moved from harboring doubts and relying on outside expertise to becoming creators of their own media. They learned from experience and from each other, based on their own interest and relationship in the group. While returning to Nandurbar after the final show, one girl collapsed. In the absence of the facilitator, the group did not panic, but collectively decided a course of action, to sensitively and courageously save the girl.

 

Towards Co-Creating Learning Societies

Abhivyakti believes that the centralised mode of media production has a limited role as it is designed to yield a passive audience. We believe that each one of us have the potential to not only become media producers, to tell our stories in our own unique way, but also to create our own destinies. Not only is there a direct human value in this process of co-creation, but through it, originates a variety of messages, meanings, interpretations as well as multiple responses and solutions to challenge today’s uniform mass media and BIG development agenda. In our own creation, at individual and collective levels, we see an opportunity to break the culture of silence — through local art forms, dialogues and grassroots action. Multiple sources of information, from diverse producers, users and exchange processes, would greatly enhance the possibilities for unfolding a learning society.

In the final analysis, we as an organization have come a long way. From being mere producers of audio-visual materials to the present: where we see our role in facilitating dialogues amongst diverse members and groups, so that we can all critically reflect on the dehumanizing structures and processes that undermine our potentials as human beings as well as creatively explore and generate new shared meaning amongst ourselves. Abhivyakti itself has recently initiated a series of discussions within the organization to make this happen more consciously. We are currently re-strategizing our programs and structures so that our path becomes clearer.

Moving from a dependent society (that is slowly sinking) to a learning society is indeed a tough act. But it is not impossible. The hope lies in charting three inter-linked courses: strengthening relationships, promoting critical reflections, and lastly, generating multiple, creative expressions. All three are rooted in our inner resources and the webs we weave with nature and with others. This is certainly not an impossible dream to realize — if we chisel at it slowly, patiently, sensitively and proceed at a pace that would not be too demanding on anybody willing to try.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nitin Paranjape <amdnsk@vsnl.com> lives in Nashik with his family of Anita Borkar and their 10-year-old daughter Sakhi, and extended family of Abhivyakti. He loves cinema, photography, and cricket, and hopes that one day his dream of making a film will be fulfilled. He is one of the founder-members of Abhivyakti, where he actively seeks the organisational space to nurture human values, strengthen relationships and generate multiple expressions to contribute for personal, organisational and community growth.