Often in our busy schedules, we forget to pause, look around and understand our surroundings. We see them as surroundings that have always been there and will be there except for a few changes, we don't really pause to sit and ponder over how a place around us has evolved or how it will evolve in the upcoming years. We just move about with our lives without realizing what effect our places around us have on us and how there could be so much more that we don't already know about our surroundings.
This is the exact thought that The People Place Project is concerned with and hence we follow the concept of narrative mapping- mapping the city and places with the stories of people. But all of us differ in how we perceive a city and its places. So we thought, how about we let the people themselves discover stories of people and places around them. Hence, as an outreach program, we designed the ‘getting to know the city’ process in the form of a treasure hunt.
Till date we’ve organized six treasure hunts – three each in Mumbai and Ahmedabad. It's a three-four hours long program where the first ½ hour consists of a brief orientation, the next 1-1.5 hours the participants go on the treasure hunt and the last ½-1 hour is spent for discussions and creating stories. We give the participants a map with clues and trail so they systematically move from one place to the next. Each clue has a brief exercise to talk to the people there and find out their stories and record them- by writing, photos, videos anything. In the last segment, stories are carved out of the material and selected stories are published on the blog and sometimes they make their way to the book.
The exercise is designed as a treasure hunt to make it interesting and knowledgeable at the same time for the participants. It's a method to collect newer stories, learn newer dimension and get insights on how different people can differently understand stories, people and places. And each time it opens up a completely new dimension for us to hop into and learn.