Life in a city is culturally different from the one in a small town. I spent 18 years in a remote town of Chhattisgarh where I was born before moving to Pune. Despite the excitement and anticipation of all the career opportunities, actually adjusting to the city took me quite a while. The first feeling that hit me was alienation. I felt like I was in a different world where I did not belong. The fast-paced environment of the city was the polar opposite of the idyllic lifestyle I grew up in. I found myself grappling with the anxiety of trying to keep up and even wondering if I’d make it.
It’s natural for a person who only knew a small-town life to feel like an outsider in an urban setting. But I’ve also met people who were born in the city yet never managed to feel at home. The recurring need for vacation or a change of scenery that makes urban citizens flee to farms or go camping and trekking in the forests is a sign that there is a clear disconnect between mankind and nature.
Studies suggest that city living is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and psychosis. One functional magnetic resonance imaging study in Nature examined the potential differences in neurological processing of stress of urban living and found that it was associated with increased amygdala activity, the part of the brain important in emotional learning and behaviour. As a result, the long-term effects of living in a big city on the physical and mental well-being of its residents are alarming.
The three women who founded The Curio-City Collective shared the same concern and decided to do something about it. It is an outcome of their own struggles with feeling fragmented and torn by the state of Indian cities that raised and nurtured them. It led them to create this space and to dream the dream of building a community of connection and reflection and most importantly, proactive informed action. Co-founders Arpita Joshi, Deepika Khatri and Srinidhi Raghavan have been working in the Development and Communication sector since 2000. Their interests lie in inter-generational equality and climate justice, understanding the juvenile justice system and the linkages between social justice and well-being, and women’s rights, sexuality, and disability rights respectively.
“As a forest fire sometimes clears the path for new growth, the multiple crises of our times might hold the key for a fresh perspective. Taking the opportunity to collectively re-claim hope, we weave together conversations, narratives and discussions on how individuals, collectives and communities can empower themselves through knowledge and action to build a different world – a world defined by the care and holistic well-being of all.”
The Curio-City Collective works on the themes of ‘mental health’, ‘waste and consumerism’, ‘connection, care and COVID-19’, ‘sustainability’, ‘work’, and ‘the wild world’. They’ve created a learning ecosystem that brings together multiple mediums and methods of learning and engagement under a vision of fostering a culture of reflection, education, and action.
In their collection you’ll find podcasts that explore loneliness in metros, principles of frugality, segregating and composting household waste, water management, and creating inclusive spaces for children with disabilities. There’s also a list of features on mental health and self-care, the slow-living movement, gardening, and sharing the housework. Moreover, they have a reading circle that discusses books about social networking, consumerism, and working in the city.
Their goal is to establish and live by a ‘Well-being Framework’ that shifts out of the narrow confines of economic growth and expansively lays out how improvements in multiple variables from various spheres such as the economic, social, environmental, democratic, civic and personal, independently and collectively interact to make a happier and healthier society.
The Curio-City Collective has created a soulful community of individuals and organizations engaging in dialogues and initiatives leading to transformative changes in the city lifestyle through conscious choice and practice; changes that will ultimately reflect in our ecosystem.
You can find out more on their website.
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