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Together we can How do we nurture and resource the children of Bangalore for a self-sustaining life?

Two cows, a fridge and a washing machine... In 2004, Chris Harrison (then at Ernst & Young) and Matt Clarke (Director of nowhere), visited many NGOs during a business and philanthropic visit arranged by Leaders’ Quest. When they arrived at the Baale Mane, a home for fifty orphaned or abandoned girls in Silvepura, they were surprised to find girls happily playing. Wanting to know more, Matt asked Mary Chinnappan, the manager of the home, to share one of the girls’ stories. After hearing Kalayershi’s tale, he immediately asked what the home needed. The answer was two cows, a fridge and a washing machine. And so the relationship started. It took almost a year for Matt and Chris to work out how to send the money, and during this time it became clear that the longterm future of the Baale was in peril. The rented shelter was under threat because the lease of the land was coming to an end. Concerned that the girls would have no choice but to return to the slums, Chris and Matt gathered others and cofounded the UK based charity The Friends of Baale Mane Gopalapura ( With the help of some very important friends, funders and trustees, they created a pipeline that would enable funds to directly reach Baale Mane. To date, their efforts have raised in excess of £300,000 and the Baale now has a permanent and purpose-built home in Gopalapura. A couple of years ago, during an annual strategic meeting, Matt and Chris realised that they were faced with a new problem. The girls were growing up and leaving home to move into the city … but Bangalore was not equipped to support them. So Matt and Chris realised that they would have to turn their attention from Baale Mane to the city. The state of Karnataka has 61 million people and the estimated population of the district, Bangalore Urban, is just over 9.6million. Despite its affluence, many children still live in extreme poverty. The question Matt and Chris grappled with is … how can we create the conditions inside this district that are conducive to these girls leaving home and making a living so that they can be both nourished by and contributing to society? As they extended their attention from the fifty girls in Baale Mane to the vast population of the city, they knew that they could not do this alone. Because in true nowhere fashion, they realised they had asked another, much bigger question… How can we nurture and resource all the children of Bangalore for a self-sustaining life?

Kalayershi’s story When Kalayershi was seven, her grandfather took her from her village in rural Bangalore to the city. When they arrived, he sold her into a family for domestic service. Kalayershi’s family was so poverty-stricken that this was a chance for her to be fed and for the family to receive some money. Kalayershi was locked inside this new house so she couldn’t escape, but after two years of service, she found a chance to run away. She returned to her village but the next day, her grandfather took her back into town and sold her to another family. In this second home the conditions were far worse and eventually the neighbours were so sick of the sound of screaming that they called the police. The police called Action Aid who contacted Paraspara Trust. Having kicked down the door to gain access, they returned Kalayershi to her village. The hope was to re-integrate her but they soon realised that the village was unable to help and the grandfather would sell her again. So the Paraspara Trust brought Kalayershi to the Baale Mane home – and it is her story that Matt heard on his first visit. He could hardly believe how the smiling Kalayershi was running around the home like any normal, happy child.

‘...the Paraspara Trust brought Kalayershi to the Baale Mane home – and it is her story that Matt heard on his first visit. He could hardly believe how the smiling Kalayershi was running around the home like any normal, happy child.’

‘If our government over the last 65-70 years coul organisations to dream and say we alone can mak everyone pulling in the same direction – so it is n co-create a common vision and goal … so it work Ashok Kamath, Akshara Foundation

dn’t make a difference, who are we as individual ke the difference? You need all of society ideally, ecessary to engage multiple organisations and s for society for the long term.’

How it evolved‌ Ashok Kamath joined Chris and Matt in their quest and agreed to be their main partner in Bangalore. As chairman of the Akshara Foundation, he was in the perfect position to help.

From his work in nowhere, Matt understood the power of cocreation and the potential of different organisations and sectors coming together to reach innovative solutions. To make Bangalore a city the children could trust, they knew they needed to engage all the stakeholders. Their hope was to create an eco-system of organisations that could work together. They believed that by tapping into the collective intelligence of the whole, they could reach an extraordinary outcome. So they invited all the major decision makers, NGOs, charities, government representatives, and powerful for-profit companies, such as Microsoft, to come together on a single day to look at the question together.

‘No one person can do everything. No one organisation can achieve everything. To achieve scale you have to collaborate. And collaboration doesn’t mean that there’s one person saying this is the way to go forward. We all have different ideas and different perspectives. All those perspectives have to come together and that’s why co-creation is important.’ Uthara Narayanan, Better Future India

‘Right now Bangalore is going global, so this is the time to intervene so we can shape the economy, shape the workforce, shape the citizens. The children are the citizens and workforce for tomorrow. They are the people who will take Bangalore and the world forward.’ Uthara Narayanan, Better Future India

The first Creative Dialogue Breakthrough Question: How do we nurture and resource the children of Bangalore for a self-sustaining life for the next 15 years? The first Creative Dialogue happened on 8 November 2012, supported by nowhere, the Akshara Foundation and the National Institute of Advanced Studies. The purpose of the day was to use the collective intelligence of Bangalore, a ‘meeting of minds’, to co-create a strategic framework in response to the question: How do we nurture and resource the children of Bangalore for a self-sustaining life? Sitting in the circle were participants from both public and private sectors, including big businesses, NGOs and Government agencies. The hope was that the solution could be found across this uniquely gathered community. The main objectives were to increase understanding, determine future threats and identify potential ways forward. nowhere practices formed the design of the day, so participants could be led through a co-creative journey. Check-Ins Each participant introduced themselves and shared what they thought would be most helpful to meet the day’s goals. Onboarding There were inputs from Anurag Behar (Azim Premji Foundation), Sulata Shenoy (Turning Point), Dr. Nadadur (ISEC) and Sean Blagsvedt (BabaJob).

Creative Teams The participants were then split into 3 groups of 12. Their task was to systematically identify the various factors that would affect the collective aim of creating a self-sustaining life for the children, including local, national and international events, and past, present and future pressures and resistors. They were then asked to identify 3-4 main areas of attention which if addressed would make all the difference. Creative Dialogue The group was then invited to participate in a Creative Dialogue. Dialogues are unique from a normal group conversation. The rules are: • • • • • •

Clarify intent Entry is everything Support dreaming out loud Deepen your listening Make it safe for opposition Dare to suspend disbelief

‘This is validation that 13 to 14 organisations can come together and work towards a common goal – to help the children of Bangalore.’ Ashok Kamath Akshara Foundation

Through Dialogue, the group agreed on four main areas of attention 1. Wellness, Health and Nutrition 2. Education (from the Latin ‘Educare’ – to draw out your skills, passion) 3. Data Transparency (Bangalore, as the silicon valley of India, is cash-rich, but many children remain in extreme poverty. There was a data-rich capability amongst the participants who recognised that demographics and facts about current activity and government budgets (e.g. for nutrition), were vital elements to track obstacles, current realities and progress). 4. Governance and Leadership (including parenting of children) Participants were then invited to move towards the area that most attracted them. From this, teams were created who began the important work of planning objectives, tasks and actions. Each group then reported back to the whole.

The nowhere practice As a fast-developing country, with deep cultural traditions, India holds the balance of old and new. nowhere, having developed a practice that combines both ancient and modern wisdom, seemed a good fit for this work. Co-Creation nowhere believes that co-creation is the only way to answer our current world problems. For co-creation to realise its full potential, you need to: 1. Have the right people in the room 2. Respect difference and diversity 3. Create and work with a Breakthrough Question. A question that you alone can’t answer. A question that keeps you awake at night. A question that if you did know the answer would change everything… 4. Work with the collective intelligence of the group Gone is the time of a single leader coming up with solutions. nowhere believes that leaders should stop taking up space… and start learning how to hold space. Spaces that use collective intelligence, creative tension and flow to find breakthrough solutions. These ‘creative containers’ leverage the unique talents in the group, harness new and novel intersections between these diverse people, and release the co-creative potential that lies in the space between individuals, teams and organisations. This is how the new comes into the world and where real change can happen.

nowhere helps people find their uniqueness. We believe it is only when you stand in your difference, your distinctiveness, that you can come into a co-creative relationship with others.

‘If you can get many cre true creative dialogue, engaged with building ‌.I can contribute this me with this? You creat difference on a large sc Tara Kini

eative minds coming together, engaging in where there is no superiority but everyone is on each other’s ideas … Oh you’re doing this way … or I have this need … can you supply te a kind of a web that is going to make a cale. ‘

The Creative-Rollercoaster




!! known unknown

Riding the Creative-Rollercoaster We start in the known, in the present (now here). We onboard ourselves with everything we currently know, we share data. Once we have a full grasp of this knowledge we let go and accelerate into the unknown (nowhere). The unknown can be a scary place. It’s a place of uncertainty, of risk, but if we can hold the creative tension of ‘not knowing’ for long enough, then chaos reorders and we reach moments of creative insight and collective breakthrough. In the dark of the unknown there is an illumination, the moment of ‘aha!’ where everyone recognises the solution. From here we can lean into the emerging future. We come out of the rollercoaster with outcomes and tangible outputs – so we can elegantly move forward together.

‘It is only in the unknown that we can discover something that has never been thought or done before … where we find something truly new and innovative.’ nowhere

The second Creative Dialogue Purpose: To co-design an interconnected weave of activity for elegant execution The second Creative Dialogue took place on 15 April 2013 and was again supported by nowhere, the Akshara Foundation and the National Institute of Advanced Studies. The objectives of the meeting were for the community to continue what they had begun, to share and learn from their collective successes and struggles, and to co-design ways forward so they could deliver on their government, NGO and business agendas. How do we build the model city we speak of? Five speakers were invited to give evocative talks on the four workstreams as well as a macro-perspective of the current situation in India, Karnataka and Bangalore. Following these inputs, there was another Creative Dialogue around the question: How do we weave our group activity for elegant execution? The community was also introduced to another nowhere practice: nowhereMaps.

Evocative talks raise the bar, identify critical and challenging questions and share some timely insights into what is (facing into the strengths and weaknesses of the current reality) ‌ and what could be. It should challenge the speaker as much as the audience.

‘When you bring different elements together, a diverse set of organisations, each containing a diverse set of skills, and you bring them together, what you are going to get is something much larger than the sum of all the skills that you have.’ Tara Kini

The day was designed to build, deliver and optimise: Building • Defining the projects / prototypes • On-boarding the delivery teams • Holding a Creative Dialogue and building quality connection • Systemic mapping and planning – how to weave our activities Delivering • Productive meeting structures and reporting – how to stay connected • Stakeholder engagement, integration and resolving conflict • Orchestration, self-leadership, responsibility – our ability to respond to a volatile, uncertain and complex world Optimising • Completion – how to embed, sustain and repeat

The Sunday Camps ‘Together We Can’ was first created by Akshara Foundation and they developed the logo for all to use. It was from this concept that Sunday Camps were born. On Sundays, representatives from many NGOs travel together to the slums where all the slum dwellers have been invited. Here, the local children and community gather to take part in activities designed to instill self-esteem and life skills. They receive mentoring and education from a variety of NGOs with the hope that we can resource and nurture them in the 4 main areas of: Wellness, Education, Data Transparency and Governance & Leadership. What is remarkable about the Sunday Camps is how the NGOs are working together, co-creating and sharing their experiences and learning – and the camps are having a huge impact. So far, the Together We Can coalition has organised three incredibly successful Sunday camps and there are plans to expand these monthly camps to other areas of Bangalore.

‘This is important now because there are more children than ever … and the future of this nation depends on nurturing our children. Bangalore is at the forefront of this demographic shift so we need to do it in Bangalore before we do it anywhere else.’ Rajesh Kasturirangan

The present – December 2013 Now the community is meeting again to build upon the work to date and accelerate progress. This time nowhere and Askhara Foundation are supported by the Center For Education Innovations, as well as many other partners and practitioners. Their hope is to embed their new practices and ideas into government protocol. The community is expanding, press interest is growing, and many influential business people and entrepreneurs are joining the quest. The Sunday Camps are a renowned success … and on a micro-level, Matt has noticed that the original girls from the Baale Mane home are beginning to self-sustain. ‘Together we can’ would not exist without the story of one girl, the young Kalayershi. It was her story that grew the seed for all that was to follow. And Kalayershi, now in her late teens, is working for a coffee company. She is able to make money, look after herself and lead a self-sustaining life. The need now is to help others.

Together we can… Together we can nurture and resource the children of Bangalore for a self-sustaining life. But why stop here? What else can we do together?

The plan is to expand beyond Bangalore to other cities in India. We have gathered many energetic, resourceful people who are keen to address the needs of children throughout the country. Through work in Bangalore we have created a blueprint that can be taken to other cities … but of course each city is different. With the practice that has been developed, we can tap into the collective intelligence of each city so that they can find their own uniqueness, people and resources … and identify their specific issues and needs. When all stakeholders align behind a common purpose, anything can happen. Together we can nurture and resource the children of India…. You are welcome to join us.

‘At this point of time, the divide between the have and have-nots is huge and Bangalore is the melting pot of a very diverse set of people – both affluent and poor. If we can make it work in Bangalore we can make it work for the rest of the country. And if the problem is not addressed now it will spread like an epidemic. The real dream of India being a developed nation, being a torchbearer of a well functioning democracy … we will lose this opportunity if we don’t do something now.’ Anant Mani

Organisations involved Agastya: Sparking creativity in rural India Akshara Foundation Arogya World Azim Premji University Baale Mane Trust Baba Job (Better Jobs for Everyone) Center for Education Innovations Dream-a-Dream Dream India Network Institute for Social and Economic Change Jaaga Karnataka Learning Partnership LAQSH Jobs skills Academy Magic Bus, India Foundation Microsoft Research India National Institute of Advanced Studies Nayonika Eyecare nowhere Pratham Books Samridhhi Trust Teach for India The Chipper Sage The Friends of Baale Mane Gopalapura Turning Point United Way Bangalore Also many highly respected individuals are an essential part of our coalition, including renowned educationalist Tara Kini and Dr. R.G. Nadadur.

‘We are developing a model that can be replicated in every city in this country and perhaps even the whole world…’ Ashok Kamath Askhara Foundation

Since 1998, nowhere’s creative-catalysts have been travelling the world working with global corporations and government agencies, building cultures of innovation and developing breakthrough strategies through the power of creative teams and evocative leadership. Our not-for-profit foundation explores how to release the co-creative potential of children and young people. Sectors include: Agribusiness, Chemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Gas, Banking, Insurance, FMCG, Retail, Hi-Tech, Bio-Tech, Media and Broadcasting, Mobile Telecommunications, Internet, Health and Beauty, Manufacturing, Precision Engineering, Drinks & Beverages, and Consumer Electronics. We have also applied our practice to numerous government and cabinet-government departments and agencies. For further information about nowhere, please contact Akshara Foundation was set up with a mission to ensure Every Child in School and Learning Well. Their work is to universalise equitable access to quality pre-school and elementary education for all children through multiple innovative models; these models are developed by people who have different professional backgrounds but one commonality – a high level of social empathy and a clear belief that we now have the unique opportunity to bridge the gaps. Since its inception in March 2000, Akshara has touched the lives of over 800,000 children in the state of Karnataka, India. For further information about Akshara Foundation please contact The Center for Education Innovations increases access to quality education for the poor by identifying, analysing, and connecting non-state education innovations. For further information about CEI please contact

CENTER FOR EDUCATION INNOVATIONS An initiative of Results for Development Institute

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