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How to DISS a black spot without cursing at it?

How many times have you seen a dump and hurled curses at it? Solve Ninja Deepika Ganesh Aiyer uses the DISS framework to template a black-spot cleaning process. This is her account of the journey she undertook with the UGLY INDIAN, Kumara Park residents and BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike) to create a collaborative experience and a common civic conscience. This article was first published by Deepika on LinkedIn.

‘’ Ah, smelly. Such a ghastly sight ! Roaches and rodents always in our neighborhood. Why doesn’t any one do anything about it? Isn’t the government responsible?”

But what will dissing a black-spot get you? You aren’t dissing it the right way, after all. While at Reap Benefit, I had the chance to work with UGLY INDIAN to understand the psychology behind the dumping of waste and the behavioral changes one can bring about for long lasting clean up effects. And so I started, on my unique James Bond adventure.

My friends were shocked, when they heard why I decided to bunk college one Saturday. Quietly observing the chosen neighborhood revealed a dreary world- illegally parked waste auto- carriers, overflowing waste bins, shady areas strewed with alcohol bottles, a park in disuse, squatters driving away kids from using the park, adults down on luck betting on horse races in the dump and most extraordinary of all, the posh political neighborhood which surrounded the black spot. Those who refused to even acknowledge the dump-yard, nefariously every night added bags of their refuse to the black-spot.

Until one man had had enough. It took one man to get fed up of the dump and turn it back into a park. As I participated in the journey of Kumara Park residents towards cleaning up a black spot, I learned how you can DISS it the right way.

Reap Benefit’s first lesson in problem solving focuses on a 4 step process:

DISCOVER

I dedicated that Saturday to discovering the problem.

Who were affected by the problem? The residents who had to live with the foul smell? The poor children who were deprived of a public park? The animals that were ingesting plastic and rotten food?

Who were causing the problem? The residents who turned a blind eye? The late night visitors who rendered a public park unsafe? The local government that was practicing no civic governance?

Who can solve the problem? The residents? The government? Or both?

You had to read all those questions because that is what discovery is about. Problems bring questions with them, and it is important that we systematically look for every question in the way of problem solving.

INVESTIGATE

UGLY INDIANhas been a public black-spot cleaning expert thanks to their years of experience learning about the city waste disposal system, encounters and collaborations with government experts and having no hesitation in getting their hands dirty.

We learnt that the reason for the black-spot was it’s unique nature. Within the city, waste disposal points are of two types; door to door waste collections are picked up by waste auto carriers which then carry it to a waste transfer point. Waste transfer points have multiple auto carriers dump their waste into a larger dump truck which carries the waste out of the city. These transfers are almost never clean. Vehicles are unable to coordinate their timings. Autos remain parked for hours. The BBMP workers hang around the area in groups. Our black spot was one such waste transfer point. Hence, surprisingly, a posh residential neighborhood was suffering from government incompetence. Moreover, a large number of rodents and roaches were attracted to the dump because of a foul smelling liquid produced by biodegradable waste left in anaerobic conditions. This liquid is called leachate. During transfers from auto carriers into dump-trucks, a large amount of leachate falls out and drains into the uncovered sewage pipes along the roads. The cement weakens, potholes are created and road traffic becomes vulnerable to accidents.

Watch the video below to understand the common waste transfer system within each city.

SOLVE

After a 4 week long investigation process, we jumped into damage control. Every problem identified during the discovery and investigation was rectified in a targeted manner. When cleaning up a black-spot, it isn’t only one department that takes care of the clean-up. BESCOM takes care of nearby wiring, Horticulture department for park landscaping, BBMP for road repair, Forest Department to remove any tree stumps or logs of wood and the local government to assign a sanitation officer that oversees the cleaning process. And together every problem is addressed.

Park falling in to disuse because of rusting equipment Park instruments were painted, injury causing construction debris was cleared out, alcohol bottles removed and gates built to create a safe space for the neighborhood children.

Potholes- Collaboration with POTHOLE RAJA in the next few days helped prevent the damaged road from causing any accidents.

Shady spots for squatters- Nearby trees were trimmed and green screens were put up so that no hidden spaces would exist.

Foul smell, Rodents and Roaches- Tarpaulin covers were spread on the road to prevent the leachate from attracting pests, draining into nearby sewers or seeping through the damaged, porous cement roads.

Late-night dumping activity and public urination- Residents pooled money together to buy surveillance cameras to keep an eye on such behavior. Sanitation officers reported their observations regularly on a common WhatApp group.

Sustaining cleanliness- Rangolis (drawings made on floors with colored powders) were drawn every day to beautify the area. The walls were painted and sub conscious signals of cleanliness were sent to people. People are less inclined to dirtying pretty places.

SHARE

Sharing of information played an essential role in the clean up process. The resident shared his problem, The UGLY INDIAN shared its intent to help clean up the black-spot, BBMP shared its surveillance and results of a clean public spot and we shared the problem solving process. Sharing of ideas, cultures and perspectives help us bond as community and collectively build strong neighborhoods. Sharing the problem with BBMP and collectively overcoming civic issues is an important part of keeping our local governments accountable.

Sharing of our cause and a call for volunteers got us a lot of volunteers that came down to realize our mission. Software engineers from Electronic City, Residents both old and young, BBMP public space maintenance workers, a Japanese volunteer moved by the mission and even the Corporator who dropped by to give us a hand added some much needed buzz.

We all collectively bonded over our common mission and shared a momentous experience.

Imagine dissing a black-spot, not by hurling curses at it. But by showing it love and care. By bonding over it, by celebrating it and by turning it into a human experience. It becomes a DISS more impactful than any other!

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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Engaging youngsters in solving local environmental problems with data and solutions #energy #waste #water #sanitation