We have been in Fort Cochin a week and there is so much to take in. It has been good to cruise around town getting a sense of the place as a tourist, but also to hang out with friends and connect with other artists.

One thing stands out for me in regards to the AR walk project discussed in my earlier post Augmented Reality walks in Kochi is the theme of reducing rubbish and recycling plastic. There seems to be a strong focus on sustainability, in particular dealing with plastic waste. This subject ties in well with Beach Ball’s project and some of the concepts of the LTNS? Fieldbook.

Beach Ball on the EveryTrail map.
Beach Ball on the EveryTrail map.

So, my sites so far:

There are still five sites yet to be determined so the walk will fit into the framework of the LTNS? fieldbook – so lots of exploring to do tomorrow and Sunday.

Some of the conversations with Beach Ball (artist Di Ball) have been very interesting. Di says her focus on not on bigger sustainability issues, merely her own selfish need to enjoy the beach (which I get as a fellow Queenslander). What is really surprising though is that Di talks about changing people’s behaviours in a way that is simpatico with the strategies of Doug Mackenzie Mohr and others in the “Sustainable Behaviour Change” space. For example, she talks about the story of 100 monkeys, which is a great demonstration of how people (monkeys) will follow each other until there is a wave of change. Here is an excerpt:

The Hundredth Monkey
By Ken Keyes Jr

The Japanese monkey, Macaca fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkeys like the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant. A 19 month-old female named Imo found that she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers too.

This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958, all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes – the exact number is not known – let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes and later that morning – the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.

Then it happened!

By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy for this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough! But notice. The most surprising thing observed by the scientists was that the habit of washing potatoes then spontaneously jumped over the sea. Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes too!

Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness; this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind.

Great story for thinking about how positive behaviour change can occur.

Di actively engages people when she goes on her “Beach Ball” clean ups, talking to people passing by and directly asking them ” ?” meaning “help me?” in Malayalam.

Anyway, progress is happening and it is great to see that this community is actively participating and contributing to positive actions on reducing and reusing waste.

On another front, on of Di’s friends has a wonderful collection of old photographs of Fort Cochin which may be incorporated into the project as well as providing another layer of collaboration.

It is starting to look like a really exciting project and looking forward to how it will evolve.

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