Sharing Knowledge, Shreya Kaipa, BArch ’23
September 4, 2021
I have officially finished up my fellowship!
Over the course of the internship, the biggest moment of weakness I noticed was stealing and miscommunication. Ideally, I wanted to be able to propose and execute a spatial layout for a new garden that would encourage growers to collaborate and share expertise with each other. However, this wasn’t feasible due to resource and timeline constraints, so I decided to focus on my fine art skills to create a signage project.
I have been working on the visuals of 2 signs to be posted in 2 Sankofa Gardens. The first sign, pictured below, aims to encourage sharing of knowledge, expertise, and produce between grower, in order to reduce misunderstandings in the garden. One grower shared with me that growing up in their home country, sharing food with strangers from their farm was very common. If an outsider wanted to eat, it was welcomed, not shamed. As a result, I felt it was most important for this sign to read as a story, rather than a command. In order to ultimately give the growers the agency to determine what behaviors they believe are best.
The 2 stories illustrated, the right side: stealing, and the left side: sharing, are based on the experience of the growers I have met in the gardens. Many growers feel disappointed and angry when they find their vegetables have been stolen.
Melanie, my supervisor, shared with me the joy and connection she feels with growers when they share expertise on how to grow with her. She has strong relationships because of how she supports them in the garden, and how they give back to her.
It’s important to note, that ultimately, the stealing and lack of strong relationships in the garden is tied to the individual ownership system of the garden. I initially assumed it was due to language differences, but I noticed that at the market, when vendors are forced to exist together, they are frequently finding opportunities to support one another (whether it means helping set up a tent, or making the other laugh on a slow rainy day). And this occurs across farmers of different cultures!
This second sign, above, is a response to flooding issues with the water pipe in one of the gardens. Melanie explained how growers often turn off the external hose first, when they should be turning off the handle inside the shed first.
The signs are planned to ship and be installed in the coming week!
I also had the honor to write and record a short essay about my experience with Sankofa for the podcast, Mosaic, which will be published through the Publics Radio soon as well. A final post is soon to come. 🙂