Converting Time Into Space: Distributed Participative Management Of People’s Creativity


How can a mayor of a city use the open spaces,  shared spaces, and redevelopment projects to revitalize the cultural neural network of the city? How can common citizens, not just elites have a greater say in shaping the future of the city than what dominant architects and planners will permit them?

It is very clear that politicians need votes and they should remember that not many elites go to actually vote? It is the common people who vote more and yet their voices are given much smaller space than their vote share in electing the mayors and councillors and others.

Korea and Karnavati have some ideas to share when I saw social innovation movement in Seoul and gave suggestions as an advisor to Seoul innovation till 2018. Let me hope that Mayor locally in Indian cities will have as much interest in the ideas propagated by Honey Bee Network as emerging tech leaders have.

Converting time into space: assuming that GIAN’s community innovation lab (ci-lab) and food-lab comes up fast in inner city (Nasir Bhai has offered a small space in Khanpur for experiment-innovate-share), different municipal wards can take responsibility for running the lab or doing things in different weeks, the ward which makes the most  creative use and develops socially most useful solutions will get a revolving Honey Bee Network Innovation trophy.

Children take charge: every day depending upon the interest and willingness of different municipal schools, there can be visits organised to make things, perform, showcase their ideas in an exhibition and seek feedback from communities

Making  innovation street every week in different part of the city: different stretches of various roads/streets can be closed to traffic for a day. This stretch becomes a place for pedestrians, creative vendors, gift, exchange/sale  of old things, books, gadgets  to reinforce the culture of repairs, repurposing, recycling, and rejuvenation –part of a circular economy. This will help expand the space for non-reciprocal economy.

Getting nature in our life: Hang baskets growing vegetables, medicinal plants, and fruits on roadside: Prayas ( had done an experiment on the streets of Bengaluru where he hung baskets growing such plants opn the roadside. A tea vendor could pluck basil/tulsi  leaves from one such basket for making tea for a customer suffering from cold. Children going to school could see how does a tomato plant look like or for that matter where do brinjals grow. If urban children become curious about cultivation and think of farming in urban and rural areas, it will rejuvenate rural economy also. A child who learns to nurture life of plants or pets may find it difficult to become intolerant. Cared and shared space may become a grooming ground for compassionate secular society. Such experiments are needed much more today when intolerance is surging worldwide. A country of immigrants like USA is witnessing vitriolic debate on the subject.

Publically Accessible Vegetables

Gandhian model of gram swaraj needs a new interpretation of  nagar-swaraj so that a new dagar/road from every nagar/city takes youth to the goal of distributed, innovation based enterprises for women and men. Children, I have argued in my book on Grassroots Innovation, need not be treated as sink of sermons but should treated as source of ideas. They will engage with shaping the future by articulating dreams, overcoming inertia and influencing institutions.

Urban renewal without distributed leadership of citizens belonging to diverse economic, socio-cultural background is not possible. Let us hope that unleashing creativity of migrants from rural areas to city will open new ways of defining inclusive development.


Visiting Faculty, IIM Ahmedabad & IIT Bombay and an independent thinker, activist for the cause of creative communities and individuals at grassroots, tech institutions and any other walk of life committed to make this world a more creative, compassionate and collaborative place