The other night I watched a great documentary on ABC TV the other night called Slumming It, hosted by Kevin McCloud. You can watch Part 1 of that show at the following link:
In one scene, people washed their clothes in water into which fed an open sewer. Another scene showed a new load of raw garbage being unloaded into the slum and then you saw loads of slum dwellers climb over the garbage looking for anything of value.
Yet amid all of this, the people looked happy and, amazingly, the clothes they wore were immaculate.
While watching the show I couldn't help but ask myself whether this is where we have come from, where are headed, or, is it where we are now? These people live amid sewers and scavenge through rubbish to survive and yet they just think of it as life. How hard it must be to evaluate the quality of your existence when it is all you know?
I also thought of the decomposition - of breaking things down and extracting anything of value from them - as being analogous with the human activity. In a shrinking economy, could it be that this could be a more valued skill in developed economies too? The ability to pour over quantities of products and decompose them into their constituent parts to find valuable elements?
In the past, we have been a very wasteful society. Filling our houses and sheds with old, unused PCs, TVs, clothes, everything. In a more scarce future, could it be that decomposition and recycling the old into new things of value could be a more vital human activity?
Is this what Prince Charles meant when he referred to Dharavi as a model for sustainability and as a model for "cities of the future"?