Star of the Sea

January 9, 2010

That, according to Berty Ashley is what Stella Maris means. (Also according to wiki and latin translations).

And that is where we all were today. Long hours of plotting went on behind closed doors and windows. Unearthly howls were reported by terrified neighbours. Eerie music and flashing lights…
Well, that was actually the disco party at the Taj. But ROB came pretty close as well.

And we sure attracted attention in Stella! Sid and Krish’s song (with enthusiastic backup by other ROBbers) was a resounding success. (Pun, geddit? Sigh. Never mind.)
Moving on- Nityanand Jeyaraman was the judge for the Debate held at Aquilae (It’s what they’ve called their culturals). The topics had the participants stymied for a while. One doesn’t often see topics like ‘Annual Beach Clean Up by NSS students- solution or problem?’, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility- eyewash or sincere effort?’ and ‘Is student activism key to capturing the essence of democracy’ as topics for a debate. Not all three together!

But they were- and defended/fought for quite well by the participants. Nity seemed in his elements asking people questions that really made them stop and think and defend their stance, as opposed to rattling off arguments they’d prepared minutes ago.

ROB volunteers floated around Stella- the white, be-turtled t-shirts could be seen dotting the grounds very prettily. The ROB stall, selling the same (t-shirts not volunteers) did pretty good business.

There was a low table covered with t-shirts and the Bhopal Calendars as well as information on the aftermath of the Bhopal gas leak.
Strung up between trees were the Robbers’ photographs of the beach, hanging between the ROB banners.  Very attractive,  (We Robbers seem high on aesthetics!) attention grabbing- and likely to stay in your mind!

The Robbers from Stella did a great job co-ordinating this outreach and ROB as a group responded marvellously.

A huge thanks to Stella Maris for allowing us a stall in the culturals! And a huge round of congratulations to the volunteers responsible for today. From where I was sitting (pretty much all over the college :D) we did great!

Akhila, ROB

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The ROB manifesto

December 20, 2009

“Reclaim Our Beaches” is a campaign by Chennaiites to reclaim our
public spaces beginning with the beaches — one of the last remaining
truly public spaces where people go for fresh air, fun, exercise,
livelihood, some private moments with a loved one, for the elderly to
sit around talking to their peers, a romp on the sands with our little
ones, for peanuts and the merry-go-round, for a game of frisbee or
cricket, a walk on the waterline to protect the Olive Ridleys. The
campaign is aimed at reviving our responsibility over this public
space, as the only way of preventing this space from being
commandeered to suit the designs of vested interests — real estate
lobby, politician-contractor mafia.

Reclaim Our Beaches is an initiative that is triggered by the sorry
state of our most cherished public space, and the fact that as users,
the lot of us named above have done little to prevent the beach from
being run over by trash — plastic spoons, water sachets, balloon
pieces, broken glass, beverage containers. From time to time, the
Government orders our school children to clean-up the trash on the
beach, and calls that an environmental activity. Why our children are
called in to clean up after somebody else is never really explained.
Neither is there any explanation of what steps are being taken to
prevent littering on the beach, or the use of unsustainable material,
or of why all the waste that is collected from the beaches are dumped
on the unsuspecting communities living near Perungudi and
Pallikaranai. Through this aimless deployment of our children as
labour to clean up after somebody else, we are conveying that it is ok
to mindlessly use and throw trash, including plastics, that those who
dirty the place need not clean up, and that the only way to clean up
the beach is to dirty someone else’s neighbourhood.

The Right Clean-up: Reclaim Our Beaches Initiative proposes to engage
Chennai residents, beach users and visitors in an effort to clean up
the beaches and keep it clean — not by periodic clean-ups by unpaid
child labour; nor by engaging in periodic clean-ups by paid adult
labour;  but by potty training our society. The Clean-up Campaign that
begins in November will converge to a massive clean-up on January 30,
2010, and a celebration on January 31.

Spearheaded by 350me, a youth initiative, and the Save Chennai Beaches
Campaign which is a collective of residents opposing the Elevated
Expressway on the beach, Reclaim Our Beaches is an initiative to
reclaim democracy.