The Commune: A Question of Well-Being

Dear Friends,

I’ve been sitting with two words for a few weeks: well-being.

For one, as it’s the theme we’ve chosen to speak to this September as we come to the end of Season 1 of The CurioCity Collective Podcast. It’s the place where the journey began for all of us—the need to reimagine our lives and the cities we live in as spaces of nurture. Over the past 8 months since the launch of the podcast, we’ve spoken to people living in different metro cities to explore ideas like composting, architecture and mental health and to understand how they’re rooted in individual choice and action but also how they’re affected by the communities we inhabit and the design of a city. At first glance, these might appear to be disparate subjects that cast a wide ambit, but the interconnections are easy to spot when it comes to how it all links up to contribute to a sense of well-being.

But coming back to those two words. For me, well-being brings up wholesomeness, a sense of being held and cared for—all the things that make me feel safe.  Yet, even as I’m cognisant of that, embodying it in the day-to-day often feels like an uphill task. So much so, that the last few weeks have been a struggle to try to be ‘productive’ in the way I’d like to be. Following closely on its heels then is the voice in my head that says ‘not good enough’, ‘not fast enough’. Just not enough. So when I was talking to Jehanzeb Baldiwala from the Ummeed Child Development Centre for one of our bonus episodes there was a huge sense of relief to hear her say: ‘One of the things that I think is helpful is for all of us to just lower our expectations. Because there is a pandemic, right? And so for us to pretend like we can all just keep racing on and being whatever productive is, and continuing these things, it’s a little ridiculous.’ 

In that moment, I felt myself relaxing into my chair in quiet acceptance of what she was saying. Because we are living in an extraordinary time of uncertainty and the resulting anxiety that comes from it is a very present and real thing. The pandemic has shown that this idea of society as a business model has failed. It has shown the inadequacy of health systems and economies that are based on extraction and profitability. It has shown how catastrophic an impact human action has had on the planet we inhabit. It’s also why well-being and creating systems and structures that support it are more important than ever. Why tending to a garden is an act of resistance against hopelessness. Why cooking for those in hospitals is as act of nurture for community well-being. Why segregating waste and create sweet-smelling compost at home is an act of care for the planet. 

So in our podcast this week, ‘A Question of Well-Being’, we look at the multi-dimensionality of well-being and talk about why it is more crucial than ever to build collective well-being. We also wanted to bring back an article that speaks to this moment, ‘Taking Care: A Short Guide On Self Care’ by Tanuja Babre, Coordinator at iCall which runs a counselling helpline in multiple languages. Complement it with this article, ‘Feeling Not Seen, Not Heard, Not Understood’ that locates individual response in the structures, institutions and communities of which we are all part.

As always, we would love to hear from you so do write to us with your thoughts or find us on social media. We hope you’re staying safe and well.

(Team TCC)

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