INSPIRE — 19 September 2012

INSPIRE BOXES are supported by the Fetzer Institute as a means of highlighting exemplary initiatives or people promoting peace and reconciliation

(COURTESY 4TH EDITION EFGA)

The subjects are diverse – from the conventional to the bizarre – but each adds insight to an ever-growing tableau of the life of a city that has been at war for many years. With over 60 photo, video and text profiles to date, each asks a question that relates to a Kabuli in a different walk of life: Who is the Skateboard Teacher?  Who is the Chapandaz (buzkashi player)? Who is the surgeon? Who is the Woodcarver? Who heads City Power? Who is the Chaos Creator? Who is the Women’s Activist? Who is the Car Washer?  Who is the Ice Cream Seller? Who is the Gambler? Who is the Child Prodigy? Who is the Burqa Salesman? Who is the Female Army General? The list goes on…

Led by a team of international and Afghan creators, who profile their subjects with brief interviews, photographs and videotapes, and make the results available on a multimedia website, Kabul at Work provides an extraordinary glimpse into the people who make the Afghan capital work.  These small, but focused, vignettes reveal the soul of a much-misrepresented city and offer both the Afghan public and international audiences a positive view of the vibrant economic life that still exists in Afghanistan.

While Kabul, like any other large city, has its problems, ranging from severe air pollution and poor urban planning to sprawling shantytowns and disruptive insecurity, Kabul at Work seeks to show the other side of the story. Since the end of 2001, despite ongoing war and mayhem, Kabul has developed into a vibrant metropolis of nearly four million people. The project gives the people who help make it work a voice, whether the person interviewed is the real estate agent selling million dollar homes to Afghanistan’s nouveau riche, the long-serving British cemetery keeper or the candy-maker in the bazaar. Rich or poor, mundane or eccentric, they all tell their own stories about who they are, their lives and their vision of Kabul.

The long-term objective of the Kabul at Work project is not only to dispel negative images of Afghanistan that are often unfounded, but also to inform the people of Kabul about themselves and to provide a forum that will attract global interest. The results are highly imaginative.  Http://www.kabulatwork.tv/ is an exceptional media-oriented, but also educational website that we would recommend to any teacher, whether in New York, London, Geneva or Herat, to explore with students. In particular, the site can easily serve as a brilliant template for creative communities elsewhere in the world. It shows what can be done to promote a better understanding of our own cities, countries and living environments. As the Kabul at Work organizers point out, there is also the potential here for a study in urban anthropology that can be expanded to areas outside Kabul.

 

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