Monday, May 30, 2016

The Ugly Indian

We spent our morning with an organization called The Ugly Indian which works to inspire the community to beautify the city one small project at a time.
We spent our morning with an organization called The Ugly Indian. The purpose of this organization is to urge people of the community to beautify the city one small project at a time. Before beginning our project for the day, we got to learn a little bit more about why people started participating in these projects and how The Ugly Indian operates. As far as the set up of the organization goes, everything is very informal. Sites are selected based on the needs of the people and their own personal investment.

Examples of projects that they have done include the painting of walls to discourage people from spitting or urinating on them, as well as repaving and painting sidewalks that are in dire need of a little TLC. These projects are taken on solely by community members who see the common issue and pool money, time, and resources together to accomplish their goal rather than waiting for someone else to fix it. The notion of this is that when people see something beautiful they strive to maintain the beauty, as opposed to seeing something ugly and not caring if they add to the ugliness. For the most part, these projects have a large success.

Our project for the day was to paint a rundown cement wall that was only a few blocks away from where we were staying. The wall had been plastered with posters of politicians and various advertisements so our first job was stripping the wall of everything using pieces of metal and wire brushes.

After cleaning the wall and clearing dirt away from the curb of the sidewalk, we began to paint. The wall was painted red, which we learned was significant in that it was not affiliated with any political or religious groups that may cause opposition. The curb was also painted black and yellow. After this, the design was created using masking tape to section off various triangles that were then painted green, yellow, and white. After finishing this painting and removing the tape, the wall was finished and was absolutely beautiful.

While the experience in itself was extremely gratifying, the most amazing thing was the community response. People were walking by and stopping to watch and even help us paint. There were employees from the buildings across the street asking who we were and wondering how they could sign up! There were also several instances that we caused traffic jams for photos and other conversation. One of the coolest things that happened as a response to our project was a man removing a non-operational manhole and digging out the excessive amounts of dirt that had clogged the drain. Nobody asked him to do this but he saw the project happening and decided to contribute and restore the system to working order once more. This man embodied the spirit of The Ugly Indian movement by wanting to make a beautiful space more beautiful and that is something that we will all take away from our day of painting.