Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Platform of Hope

Photo courtesy: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum/Video screen capture

I love stories where good things happen because one person cared. Too often we say, "But what can I do, I'm only one person?" This "platform of hope" came about because one man cared enough to start the ball rolling; and, that ball kept gathering substance and momentum.

To those of us in the developed countries who are fortunate enough to live where greenery and nature still exist and easily accessible this platform may not seem like much; but, to the people who use it - it is an amazing place.

Watch the video at the end of the blog to see how this simple platform has transformed lives and attitudes.

Korail, home to 120,000, is the largest slum in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Located at the center of the city, to say space is at a premium is something of an understatement. Dhaka itself has a population of 15 million, and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) predicts that it will be the second largest city in the world by 2015.

In Korail, boxed in by a growing wealthy neighborhood and a lake, increasing density precludes public spaces where residents can gather and children can play. But a small project is proof that residents can take matters into their own hands and make their home a better place.

Photo courtesy: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum/Video screen capture

The Platform of Hope (Ashar Macha) was first proposed in 2007 by landscape architect Khondaker Hasibul Kabir of BRAC University. New to the area, Kabir moved in with family of Fourkan Pervez . Together they transformed the home into a lush community garden.

Then they brought in a carpenter and a bamboo worker and built a platform extending over Gulshan Lake, connected to the garden via a bridge. The Platform of Hope, which measures 18 by 36 feet, now serves as a space where local children can gather and play. It also houses a small library.

It was featured at the Design with the Other 90% exhibit put on by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.

Photo courtesy: Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum/Video screen capture

Of course, the platform and garden are too small to serve a significant portion of Korail's population. But this is a project that could easily be replicated; no major funding or investments were required. It provides a rare space where Korail's impoverished residents can enjoy fresh air and greenery, benefits the developed world too often takes for granted.

No comments: