Humans of my neighborhood

According to Brandon Stanton of the Humans of New York, it all began as a photography project to create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants. Over the years, it started featuring stories from over twenty different countries. I think I would find very few people not touched by these stories. You can see 17 “Humans of” Facebook Pages.

With the intention to foster relationships in the city, City of Surrey organises Inclusive City Philosopher’s Cafes – where people come together to discuss and listen to each other’s stories on a common theme. What’s more, it offers grants to residents to strengthen their community:

Every city has stories. Every face in the crowd has a story to tell. Every face not in the crowd has a story to tell. We learn so much from each other by trying to know each other. That’s true engagement. How well do we know people in our own community? How well do we know our neighbours? How do we affect each other? How can we help each other? What’s keeping us from doing this?

Pick a challenge

Practice what you preach. Doing so is tough. Admitting this is not just humbling but also reassuring.

To obsess over perfection stalls us to take those steps we need to take to do what aligns with our values.

So, pick a challenge, take a pledge. Take your time. Learn and apply. Take inspiration if you are stuck. Take the no-straw challenge for instance. Watch Pooja Navale take the challenge and inspire others.

It’s alright, we are not perfect. Someone wise once said perfection is the enemy of good.

If you forget, remind yourself again and pick up where you left.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a great resource from OneWorldWeek –  Living-for-One-World-pledges with plenty of challenges.

Find out what environmental issues we are facing today. Prioritize. Prioritizing can be difficult. I for one have my hands in many pots: reducing consumption, not wasting food, buying ethical and eco-friendly products, reducing my waste footprint, recycle, plant more, conserve water and energy, conserve and reuse paper, support local community initiatives, buy organic, share inspiring stories, etc.

Game on!


Join me on Twitter with Safecity – Jan 28-Feb 3 – Social Responsibility & Women Empowerment

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If social responsibility and women empowerment interests you, I’d like to welcome you to join me in a week long Twitter curation with Safecity @pinthecreep from January 28 to February 3. If you are involved in this field or know any organizations related to this field, please share and we will spread the word! Don’t forget to follow the host @pinthecreep.

Featured topics for the week:

  • Jan 28th: Socially responsible fashion
  • Jan 29th: Social responsible investing (SRI)
  • Jan 30th: Socially responsible tourism
  • Jan 31st: Leadership in the social responsibility space
  • Feb 1st: Socially responsible businesses
  • Feb 2nd: Twitter chat
  • Feb 3rd: Closing the week

Twitter chat – 2nd Feb – Mark your calendar!

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The week will end in a Twitter chat focusing of Social Responsibility & Women Empowerment. Our guest of honor will be Vasu Primlani. Vasu Primlani is many things. She is a standup comedian, professor, triathlete, and- a somatic therapist. She has received over a dozen international awards for her work, her latest being the highest award given by the president of India to a woman – the Nari Shakti award. She specializes in preventing rape, the authentic self, and does somatic therapy for survivors and rapists alike. Follow hashtag #Safecitychat on Twitter to participate in the chat on February 2nd 9PM-10PM IST.

If you have never participated in a chat on before, you must know that on Twitter chats you can share ideas and also make new connections. Follow the steps below if you are newbie to not just Twitter chats:

  1. You need to have an account on
  2. Follow @pinthecreep and @anujasaw.
  3. This discussion will run between January 28 to February 3, so make sure you keep a close eye on these two Twitter accounts to receive the latest updates and to participate in the discussion.
  4. Follow hashtag #Safecitychat for the Twitter chat on 2nd February, 9PM – 10PM IST.

Any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. You can also see this Twitter Guide if you are new to Twitter.

To know how we did it in the past, here are the links to previous Safecity curations:

In the past, with Safecity, I’ve engaged people on the intersection of Environment, Women’s Safety, Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Twitter on:

  • Women’s role in Environmental Education
  • Achieving SDG11 targets for Safe and Sustainable Cities
  • Rethinking urban transportation systems
  • Omission of women in urban planning
  • Anti street harassment
  • Safety in 100 smart cities of India
  • Safe cycling in Indian cities

I’ve also developed educational material for Safecity on sanitation and hygiene for girls of age group 12-15 years.

About Safecity:

Safecity (registered under Red Dot Foundation) is a platform, founded in 2012, that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This data which maybe anonymous, gets aggregated as hot spots on a map indicating trends at a local level. The idea is to make this data useful for individuals, local communities and local administration to identify factors that causes behavior that leads to violence and work on strategies for solutions.

Last edited: January 23 2018. Date for SRI and Tourism swapped.

Being humane while we intend to do good


How far can our intention to do good go and what form can it take? Our black and white ideologies offer simplification and clarity, but may not always be humane. What steps are we taking to keep our good selves in check? What’s our moral compass saying now, and tomorrow, and day after? How fast are our perspectives changing and how are we acting on them? Are we hearing the voice of those we are making decisions for? Are we really helping someone or are we just executing our ideologies because we can?

“Little things done with love are much better than big things without love.”  ― Lailah Gifty AkitaPearls of Wisdom: Great mind

It is hard to imagine the rigidity of our world but a series called Black Mirror does it for us. One of its episodes called White Bear shows a contemporary society, how technology’s effect on people’s empathy has given rise to vigilantism that has a twisted idea of justice and punishment. Another series called Manhunt Unabomber, tells a story of Ted Kaczynski who after witnessing the destruction of the wildland surrounding his cabin, concluded that living in nature was untenable and began his bombing campaign.

It’s a two-way street. An individual has as much effect on the society as the society has on the individual. So, who’s really responsible? We all are. Collective social responsibility requires community participation. Following are some examples where socially progressive individuals or countries have taken bold and kind steps to be humane to those with varied degrees of criminal backgrounds.

  • In April 1994, a ten-day Vipassana course for over a thousand inmates was held inside the confines of Tihar Prison in New Delhi, the capital of India. The course was conducted by Mr. and Mrs. S.N. Goenka, with 13 assistant teachers. This was the largest Vipassana course to be held in modern times, inside or outside of a jail.
  • In Scandinavia, a Danish Prison and Probation Service and architecture firm CF Møller have designed what they’re calling the world’s “most humane” maximum security prison.
  • When Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, USA, opened more than 180 years ago,  this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners.
  • At my time with Toastmasters in New Jersey, I learnt that the Toastmasters Gavel Club there visits the Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) facilities for mentoring, as volunteers in these correction facilities.

First or second, a chance is something we all deserve, don’t we? So do developing countries setting ambitious national targets to tackle climate change. How do our perspective about these countries change when we realize that their banks are funding coal? Aren’t they trying enough already? Who’s counting? In a study published in 2014, scientists revealed a ‘fair system’ for countries to tackle climate change.

Perhaps we need more than just a chance, we need help, we need resources. Human rights is also a part of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Are we heeding to the feedback and changing our corporate social strategies? Many corporations are helping refugees and helping people in disaster struck areas. Microsoft and the UN Human Rights Office are developing cloud technologies and data analytics in new ways to expand and improve protection of human rights around the world. Open source technologies for instance encourage collaboration, a decentralized way of sharing knowledge so that everyone can contribute and together make the world a better place.



Grandpa kitchen

Do you like to cook? Ethnic or fusion? As a job or at home? For yourself or others or both? Spicy or mild? Takeout or home-made tiffin? Beginner or an expert? Do you need motivation or guidance? Do you sell or distribute food? Are you into healthy cooking? Do you recognize food as an environment issue? Do you turn food waste to compost? Is it a human rights issue? Do you donate food? Are you grateful for the food you eat, for the hands who make it? There’s so much one can do around food. This blog post introduces a personality who not just cooks but also donates the food he cooks to charity. Introducing Grandpa Kitchen.

Grandpa Kitchen is a YouTube channel whose goal is to provide basic needful things such as cloths, books, school fees, birthday celebrations, and food to orphan children. Grandpa’s real name is Narayana Reddy. The channel is operated by his son Shrikant Reddy. They are now able to feed children two days a week and may be able to do more with everyone’s support. On similar lines in another Youtube Channel called Village Food Factory, that went viral last year.

To watch him cook food, out in the open air, among the trees, is such a delight. Reminds me of the times when as a kid I relished open air wood fire roasted burnt potatoes. Last year when I visited Sangli, a place in Maharashtra, India, I enjoyed roasted corn, on the road, lined by fields of sugarcane. Eating outdoors has its own charm. When was the last time you had such an experience, or rather created one?