Soweto Kinch, Dharavi Rocks, and the Blue Frog

Mumbai      One of the more unusual, and innovative, of the programs associated

ACORN's Vinod Shetty on far left, Soweto Kinch, and the ACORN Dharavi ragpickers

with ACORN Inte

rnational
and ACORN India’s organizing of the Dharavi Project with ragpickers in this huge mega-slum has been a partnership called “Dharavi Rocks” between our ACORN Foundation (India) and the Blue Frog jazz club in the central part of the city. Vinod Shetty, ACORN’s director in Mumbai, was able to fashion the partnership out of the imagination and persistence of linking a friend of a friend of his brother (who also runs a new jazz club in Bangalore!) with one of the principals in the Blue Frog club which has become prominent in the music scene in the several years since in opened. The heart of the deal is that six times a year, the Blue Frog will provide the artists and ACORN will supply the audience and the venue in Dharavi. The idea had begun with a group of Tamil rappers and then advanced with the Blue Frog to include the Boxettes a lively women’s band from the UK and a Norwegian rapper when they visited the club, and the rest, as we say, is rock n’ roll!

Vinod is careful to give ample credit to the French-native who manages the club for having the energy and understanding of the impact, particularly on our young ragpickers, but also getting the fact that it would

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ACORN Dharavi Diwali Party

P1010064 Mumbai There is a common saying about how important it is just to “show up” in making things happen.  The corollary to that should be “finding it,” which is how I felt trying to navigate a cab through the packed streets and narrow byways of the giant Dharavi slum where we work in Mumbai.  The ACORN Diwali party was scheduled for the second year on the top floor of a gym near the T-Junction, and I had been there once, but only once in the dark as a passenger.  Somehow as we passed along the roadway with the remains of the old mangrove swamp on our right and tenements on our left, I happened to see a picture of a weightlifter above an alleyway.  The cab had flown past to where it hoped we were going, but pulled over so I could run back to determine if we might have stumbled on the location.  Indeed we had.  From that point it was all easy.

I was the 100th person to sign the attendance list, so I could tell immediately that in every way this year’s event was going to show real progress in the growth of the organization.  The seats were already up and filled, where last year I had been part of the setup crew for a smaller gathering.  Before I left we had almost 200 on the attendance list.

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