Thrissur, the Cultural Capital of Kerala, is synonymous with the famous Pooram. People from various parts of the world come together to celebrate the festival held at the Vadakkunnathan Temple in Thrissur. But, there’s more to Thrissur than the Pooram itself. The district has a long-standing history that even the locals wouldn’t be familiar with. Learning City Thrissur (LCT) was born out of the need to educate people about the stories that make Thrissur what it is today.
Ashik Krishnan, the curator of Learning City Thrissur and a Thrissur local, has been exploring the city for years. While the idea was in its infant stages, Ashik’s keen knack for adventure and digging deep into the culture helped him foray further into this beautiful city. For the past three years, Ashik would invite a couple of his non-Malayali friends to explore Thrissur with him. And, every single time, he would learn something new. He shared, “That was when I first realised that I didn’t know much about Thrissur, where I lived until I completed my graduation.
Apart from Ashik, the collective visioning of Sukanya Venugopal, Aishwarya Pradip, Adarsh Mohandas, Aiswarya Rose, Hari Krishnan and Athul Vinu – all Thrissur locals – brought about the formulation of LCT. The idea is to reclaim one’s connection with their roots and their surrounding by looking at it from a different lens.
Ashik further added, “I reflected that, in school, we learned about world history and Indian history (actually north-Indian history), but nothing much about the history of Kerala or Thrissur. Since then, it was a self-educative process for me to learn more about Thrissur. And then it got built from there.
Also, there was a larger need to build a culture of life-long learning, build an intentional community oriented towards the ideals of social and ecological wellbeing. Localisation is one of the values I hold on to. Sustaining and preserving local and traditional knowledge systems, facilitating a local economy and so on. That was how the idea of Learning City Thrissur formulated.”
What is Thrissur City Connect?
Thrissur City Connect (TCC) is the first programme LCT is offering. It has been conceptualised and designed by Sukanya and Ashik. Owing to the physical limitations imposed by the pandemic, this programme will be conducted online.
“TCC comprises of 9 sessions, and we’ll largely explore the areas of one’s own relationship with Thrissur, elements of history – people, places, structures, monuments, heritage, Thrissur in popular culture – books, movies, etc., and some activities to facilitate an active citizenry – around localisation, waste management etc… The sessions are largely interactive and with post-session activities each day. We will be delving into multiple areas. It will be a joint exploration instead of a one-sided discourse.
The 9, one-hour session programme will be held over a period of five weeks from July 2nd to 30th, 2021. In order to ensure meaningful interactions, the number of seats is limited to 12. So, book your slot before it’s too late. The engagement will happen over Zoom calls. The medium of communication will be Malayalam.
The larger intention is to build a local community-oriented towards social and ecological wellbeing and promote an active citizenry in Thrissur. Understanding one’s city and surroundings will serve as the first step in that process,” shared Ashik. Much of the information collected about Thrissur is through research and speaking to people.
If you wish to be a part of TCC, all you have to do is fill this form, and attend. The programme is for those who hold a connection with Thrissur. You don’t have to necessarily identify as a Thrissur local to be a part of this initiative.
Ashik commented, “One of the participants has never lived in Thrissur, they grew up outside Kerala, but their parents are from Thrissur and thereby they wish to reclaim their connection with Thrissur. Another participant has been living in Thrissur only since the pandemic last year and they too want to establish a connection. There are people who moved out for education or work, and there are also those who lived their entire lives in Thrissur. So it is a diverse group of people who have come together so far.”
As long as you’re curious to learn about the cultural capital of Kerala, you will be hooked on this programme.
The Inspiration Behind ‘Learning City’
The concept of ‘Learning City’ can be replicated anywhere. In fact, the ‘Udaipur as a Learning City‘ by Shikshantar and the work of the Blue Ribbon Movement in Mumbai inspired Ashik Krishnan to start one in his home city. The initiative facilitates learning beyond the four walls of a classroom. It explores myriad, unexplored areas of a place such as “sustainability and regeneration, waste management, urban farming, local history and heritage, local knowledge systems”.
Ashik hopes to create a larger collective of like-minded individuals to share stories of places like never before. If you want to be part of LCT, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. He’d be more than welcome to have a nice conversation with you.