*\nHaving lived fully the two prior phases of life\u00a0 as prescribed in our philosophy \u2013 the student phase & the householder phase \u2013\u00a0 it is time now to enter the Phase of Life of \u2018Social Contribution\u2019.\nAs I complete 50 in the month of August 2015,and as I come to the completion of responsibilities of the Gruhust stage, I will celebrate my entry into the next stage of life with the launching of the\u00a0 ASTITVA\u00a0 project. \u201cAstitva\u201d means identity and in this case, it is a palimpsest of two symbols \u2013 my own identity being shaped through the project that will preserve some textile traditions that are signatures of identity of some tribes.\n***\nOver the past decade, in my journeys pursuing traditional textiles of vanishing cultures, I have come across several textile cultures that are breathing their last breath.\n\nASTITVA = Identity\n\nMothers are not passing on the skills to their daughters as the time spent on these skills is now being consumed by other interesting things such as television or other more financially rewarding things such as small jobs. As the urban world around them gets closer and closer to their habitat and as their desires expand, the first casualty in the hurry to catch up with the rest of the world, is their traditional lifestyle. And the most time-consuming non-essential aspects are the ones to be given up first. This includes the substitution of traditional textiles by factory made clothing leading to the eventual extinction of skills.\nAs an outsider I have watched and lamented. And felt helpless as it was only natural for them to want what others have. Who are we to stop them from switching to the consumption of new mass-produced products.\nBut over time it became clear that they might still continue with their old traditions if a) they are made to feel pride in their old lifestyle and b) continuing those traditions offers equal financial rewards as any other\u00a0 occupation.\nThis has been seen in some communities and with external intervention by change agents, this devastation has been prevented.\nSo beginning this year I have resolved to be that change agent and try to make a small difference. If over the years I can rescue several traditional textile art skills, that will be great, but if I can rescue even one and make it survive until the next generation, I will consider this project successful.\n***\nMISSION: To push back the extinction of traditional textiles skills of vanishing cultures.\nTHE TARGET GROUP: Vanishing / Endangered Cultures in India\nTHE TASK: To make it lucrative for the older generation to train and the younger generation to produce their traditional textile artworks that are appreciated and valued.\nTHE PROCESS: A pilot project to work with a small group of trainers from the senior generation, followed by evaluation in 6 months and then roll out to a larger domain.\nTHE METHOD:\nWithin a group whose culture is being threatened, to create a program that will allow the textile traditions to live on. The steps are:\n\u2013 to recruit knowledgeable trainers\n\u2013 to jointly lay down standards of \u201ctraditional\u201d production \u2013 natural dyes, handspun materials etc \n\u2013 to persuade them to teach the next generation their textile traditions \n\u2013 to reward participation in the training program with monetary incentives\n\u00a0\nTHE PILOT PROJECT: To be conducted with a small group of Lambanis\nTHE FUNDING\na. The seed fund will be provided by me personally.\nb. Expansion of the project will be funded by a part of the profits generated from future sales of textile artworks commissioned through WOVENSOULS.\n\u00a0\n***\nI am armed with passion and purpose and have begun gaining real-world experience. There will be hits and misses and I expect the journey to be as my mentor said once \u201cProblems came \u2026 and we went on solving them\u201d\nAt this stage this is a personal effort and not an NGO or charitable organisation or not-for-profit etc as those require some study of local laws and boundaries and barriers for operations & funding. It may or may not evolve into an organisation \u2026 right now it is important to walk along the path taking one small step after the other!\n\nJaina Mishra\nAugust 2015\n_______________________________________________________________\nUPDATE FEB 2016\nLambani Tribe\nUsing the one point of contact I have with the people, I proposed the idea to a few people from the village K.Tanda. The response I received was a rude awakening to the reality \u2026. they were not interested.\nThe money supply to the group has increased over the years in several ways. More government subsidies, greater capability to apply for and receive these, for major expenses like building houses give this marginal group a major financial relief. Further, the increasing job opportunities for working as casual labor in the nearby urban areas, disincentivises the entire group to pursue skills of the past \u2013 such as their textile arts. \u201d Who will do it for so little money\u201d was the answer. They were unmotivated and I was demotivated. So for now I have stalled the idea of working with this group.\nThere are also other factors at play \u2026 the young do not necessarily want to proclaim their identity to the world \u2013 they would much rather be invisible and not stand out than to be identified with the tribe. This may be another reason for the failure I encountered.\n[True that I have only tried through one access point and that maybe other people of the tribe / people in other villages might think differently \u2013 but it is also true that the objections raised are valid. But instead of pursuing the same group again and risking defeat a second time (one that might prove fatal to my solo spirit for this project) \u2013 I decided to turn away ad look elsewhere.\n_____________________________________________________________\nUPDATE SEPTEMBER 2016\nI have begun working with another tribal group that I have become close to over the years.\nEven though there is prosperity, they have a sense of pride in their identity and the work will begin soon.\n____________________________________________________________\nUPDATE JAN 2017\nThe work has begun and the preliminary details are as follows:\n1. Structure of the Project\nNumber of Villages: 4\nNumber of Teachers: 1 per Village\nNumber of Students: Max 4 per Village\nOnly married women were invited to join the program. This ensured continuity as younger unmarried women are likely to move to other places either for studies or on account of marriage.\nThe lessons would be conducted in the home of the teacher.\n2. Goal of Phase 1:\nTeachers to teach the students the basic embroidery stitched on a Sampler\nTeachers to work with the students to create 1 embroidered garment per student\n3. Resources Provided\n-Salary to Teachers for 2 months of classes\n-Attendance Incentive for Students to attend learning sessions\n-Materials \u2013 basic cloth & thread\nMotivational talks were held at the start of the program by respected members of their community to explain the goal of strengthening their sense of identity through the teaching and learning of textile traditions that are a signature of their community.\nA community level contest for the end-product was announced to kindle motivated engagement and result in excellence in the final output.\n4. Results of Phase 1\n\nCompletion of project and detailed report expected in Spring / Summer 2017\n\u00a0\n________________________\nREAD CHAPTER 2 \u2013 THE COMPLETION REPORT HERE\n\u00a0\n\n\u00a0\n\u00a0\n\u00a0\n*\n*\nSave\nSave\nSave\nSave\nSave\nThe post The ASTITVA Project \u2013 Rescuing Textile Traditions \u2013 Chapter 1 appeared first on The Art Blog by WOVENSOULS.COM.