Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Splash the wall!

As part of the many discussions with the children, one thing that came up often was the fact that even though there was so much place in the compound of the community, people really mess it up and it doesn't 'look nice', 'its embarrassing' and 'we keep falling ill'. On asking them what they would want to do for their community, they said they would like to make it a happier place by making it brighter and they would love to paint everywhere.

Painting everywhere was obviously not possible ! I got permission from people from the community and the BMC to allow the children to paint one wall that can be visible as you enter. After whitewashing the wall, I let the kids do whatever they liked under the large umbrella of :
what do you like about your community?
What would you like in your community?
What would you tell others about your community?

Splash the Walls

This was done a week and a half ago on a sunday when we had and all day class.

Special thanks to all my friends (Janita, Sanya, Aakanksha and Manish) who volunteered on this day to help out with everything including making sure the kids dint use the spray paint on each other.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Website Design

Still struggling.

Feedback on earlier homepage from a bunch of people including Kruti, Vishnu, Jay (the digital junkie from lkdigi), Arjun Gehlot (Wink) - thanks guys!
Who knew the homepage would be so involving yet again (after Gizapage earlier this year)

Too decorative
Too much going on
Layout was all over the place 
Boxy navigation wouldnt work with images

So I'm busy working this out. This is what I have as of now (I'm going for clean navigation and distinct hierarchy) 

Minor things >.<

Inside Page development - Opening Pages

Also, why is there no baseline grid in photoshop - I miss indesign.

(Note: the youtube video is just a screenshot of how a playlist looks when it is embedded on a website)

This is a template so I can sit with a friend of mine, who is going to be helping with the coding, so we can understand the real estate of the webpage and what is going to go where.

Using 'sharethis' and 'Disqus' which are 2 very cool apps for websites.

Designing more pages...

^homepage alternative ?

^ still working on the above page, few navigation glitches since content is a bit different from other pages!

Friday, September 24, 2010


One day later, and the homepage is finally done.
I did not factor in the amount of time it would take to clean up all the layers for web!

Very very good for new web designers is this link on what should be done so that coding is easier : 

The Website

Very new territory. I have done a little bit of web design before, but never from scratch with full responsibilities! Lots of decisions had to be taken before even reaching this stage of creating a homepage!

When I was doing my internship with gizapage, I spent almost month on ONLY homepage design, layout and functionality! That being said...

Here is a bit of process and an idea of what it might be.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Show your support!

Alongside the project, I've also been thinking about what the website will contain. And I thought merchandise to help the NGO raise money would be a good idea and this also get people aware about the project.

The bands were manufactured in Nasik and I just received samples today! I distributed them to the kids today too.

Do tell me what you guys think.

Friday, September 17, 2010

'Meri Life'

Please view the slideshow

Meri Life

This class was madness. Thank you Janita for coming and helping out! :D

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Is it a bird? Is it a book?

Its 44 days to the submission. Yes.

And I have now finally decided what one of the outputs of this project is going to be. *panic*

But I have been having a really hard time with deciding! This is because at first, it was going to be a manual of sorts. But I have been thinking about this alot, and I don't really see why I should limit the scope of the website to just people who want to maybe re-do and recreate this experience in their own community. There are a few things I have learned during this project and that in itself can be beneficial to others who have their own project ideas and want to implement them. All this in a simplified form - the website will have rich content for people to go through easily (no bombardment off too much information!)

Below are attached some thoughts over the last few days. These are all really rough and I'm working on sorting this stuff out! A clearer idea, is what I am hoping to arrive at in a day or two.

(I apologize for the terrible pictures that were clicked on my cell phone)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quick on the take

This is a random post!

Due to many constraints, teaching the kids how to use a computer, was kept aside for the time being as part of the class "activities".

But they seem to have picked up ALOT while I've been using my laptop.

Why do I take my laptop there? When the kids take pictures and there are 8 cameras, and some of them share them for the activities, it can get a little crazy sorting out pictures. So I try and do it in class, when I can make sure I don't mix up the kids pictures! Also, I like to show them the pictures on a bigger screen so I can show them what they've clicked and also give them a bit of casual feedback.

In this process they now know, WITHOUT me teaching them -

How to turn on my computer (Yes, they are sneaky!)
How to use the trackpad and mouse
How to open and close windows
How to rotate images and save them too (Apple +R, Apple +S)
How to go through everything on my desktop (!)
How to browse through folders and find their folders
How to use PhotoBooth (I might have taught them this)
How to get to ITUNES and play my music (and then make fun of it - Sahil "Yeh gaana hain, ke khazaana hain" on realising no matter how much he scrolls, its not going to stop)
How to use the keyboard (slowly)

FYI they also know how to use my blackberry. They can type on it, sms, make calls, find the games, the camera, the pictures folder, the memo pad (to practice typing - which mrunal does on my phone without fail every class). Technology just fits with them, they love it and they are extremely curious and quick on the take!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

the new look

The blog has a new look because I am now working on Branding "vision over sight".

I want to create a fluid identity that doesn't really follow the rules of corporate identities. I have used the shapes generated by the kids in the earlier exercise where they created windows and frames.

This is because, I wanted the identity to be representative of the process, which is what this project is about. The process and what it has taught me and how it evolves with each class.

Here are a few snapshots of what I've been doing !

This isn't the final though, I plan to refine it in the next few days.

Thank you Kruti for all the help on this one!

Here's where you can check out the exercise in which these were generated : Imaginary cameras and framing

Yeah, so I went a bit nuts. But I feel thats really want I want the identity to project. This nutty process thats also been a lot of fun. Sorry for the messy artboards - thats just how I work! If anyone has any feedback do let me know!

P.S. Thank you Sheebu (you know for what)

Review Three

Generate more content though the classes for the next 2 weeks.

Changed the outcome of the project completely. It is now about creating space in the community for self expression through content generated in the workshops.  

The Hand Book will be a simple pocket book for those who would like to replicate the project of this sort. But it will not be a step by step manual, it will be more of a personal conversation with anyone who wants to do such work and how they can go about it. This is not the outcome, but one by-product of the project. (still brainstorming on these details)

Dropped the idea of teaching children the computer as it is not relevant to their lives at this point. Also, there are many physical barriers of using and maintaining a computer in the community at this point.

How can these photographs be used to create a mural of sorts that would also act as an outward extension of the children and their lives. 

Can this Mural double up to be something else?

Plan and Form of the mural/space must be clear and in motion by the next review meeting. What materials will be used and why?

The mural must be participatory at some level as the children must feel they have been part of the process of building this into their community.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Dreams

A very simple exercise in which I just wanted the kids to write anything they felt like. I left it open to them, I told them that they could write about what they aspire to be or the dreams they have at night.

Please do read these, they're so insightful!

my dreams

If I was given a camera...

Before giving the children the camera (this was part of one of the first few classes, but I had wanted the children to keep their books with them, I recently got a chance to take it from them) I had asked them to write a bit about what they would want to click if they were given a camera.

I noticed, after the first round that most of them had only written about nature and figured, that this is what they hope to have around them more so than not. Their community is in the heart of Bombay and there is no form of nature anywhere around them. Also they all study in Marathi Medium SSC schools, and they are pretty much geared to write about nature at anytime because in all their books and school work, that is what they are exposed to, so they just think, that nature is beautiful and there is not much else beyond that.

I sat them down and talked to them about how, if I were to give them a camera, since there was no nature around, they would have to think of other things that they would want to click and that nature isn't the absolute beauty.

Unfortunately, some of the children have already lost their books, and some of them hadn't dont the exercise because they were not comfortable with writing hence I did not force them to write, but we discussed it instead.

Here are some of their write ups with an attempt at translating them into english :

If I Was Given a Camera

Raksha Bandhan

So this is one of the posts I've delayed - Clearly, since Raksha Bandhan got done a while ago.

The kids had a holiday on Raksha Bandhan and its a pretty big deal in the community. In fact, most rituals, cultural holidays and festivals are. This is when they have an excuse to enjoy themselves and the spirit of the community is much lighter on these days.

Here are some of the pictures the kids clicked on the day of Raksha Bandhan. I told them to try and capture the ritual itself, the colors and the "brother - sister" bond.

Please go through the slideshow below:


Shivani's Thoughts

I haven’t gone to class with anushka in what feels like forever. And I actually MISS these kids. These kids are really something special and I think that we will both agree that they teach us as much as if not more than what we teach them. They aren’t from very privileged backgrounds but there families are working hard so that they may experience better things in life. 
This class isn’t something like English or maths tuitions which is necessary for their future, but I’m amazed at how open the parents were in sending their kids to learn something so new and different. 

Photography, is not something easily taught or learnt. The only way to do it is to click more pictures. to click different pictures. to click the same picture in different ways. To MAKE these pictures in your head before you actually click. And that’s basically what we’ve been struggling to make them do. THINK before you CLICK. Creativity isn’t always easy to express. These kids haven’t been given too many opportunities to express their thoughts and ideas so freely in school. It is hard to do that given the system of the schools we study in. But I believe that although the activities in our photography class involve giving them certain boundaries, the one thing that anushka has taken care not to do is tell them how to think.

And wow do these kids think different. For starters, I never realised how kids actually 'see' things differently from grown-ups. I mean, they are short, and are always looking at things from below! The world is a big place, and the kids know that. Grown-ups think its all figured out, and everything has a system…but it is a really confusing place to live in. 

Its okay to be bewildered. Is only the first of many things I’m learning from these kids….
They’ve been teaching me many more things, including speaking Marathi with the right accent and correcting the many grammatical errors. On a more philosophical note though, here are some other things I’m learning.

Be happy.
Love everyone, even if they aren't around to love you back.
Things are born and things die, that is the way the world works. And that’s  all there really is to it.
Be Happy.
Don’t promise stuff if there is even a teeny tiny chance it might not work. even if that teeny tiny chance involves a sudden unforeseen act of Nature.
The world is a big big place and I shouldn't forget that just because I’m taller now. 
Be Happy.

Colors bring everything to life!

I would like to apologize, for the lack of posts on the blog. Between the classes and thinking and managing the cameras and files, I find it hard to sit in one place and start typing. For that I need to be given some sort of ultimatum! So I gave myself one today. Hopefully in the next few days, I will get you up to speed on whats been going on in class and in my mind.

I spent the last few classes teaching the kids about color and its importance. Special thanks to Aakanksha, a friend of mine, who helped me realize the importance of doing this with the kids! The exercise needed to be simple. Each child picked a color and they were to go out into the community and locate and click an image of that color. As many pictures were welcome and for motivation purposes, I told them - they would be getting prints of their best pictures.

Here, is when I tell you, how easy it is for kids to get excited about things. It is also that easy for them to get bored. A few classes ago, I realized this sudden slump in excitement. I started to panic and since I've mentioned time and again, that I have never had to deal with so many kids before - so I really did not know what to do. This is when I decided that some material, tangible motivation was required.

I gave them 2 classes to run around with the cameras locating these things. At the end of this process, I picked some of their best pictures and made them cards that they could keep to share with their parents, friends and family.

Please go through the slideshow:

Colors bring everything to life                                                                                                                            
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