GOOD

LOOK: Nek Chand's Rock Garden

Art takes many forms, but often, the media remain the same. Not so in Chandigarh, India, where an unlikely artist, 82-year-old...

Art takes many forms, but often, the media remain the same. Not so in Chandigarh, India, where an unlikely artist, 82-year-old Nek Chand, uses the earth itself to forge his masterpiece. His Rock Garden is a 25-acre maze of mosaic pathways, waterfalls, and hidden chambers that's home to thousands of surreal human and animal figurines. The garden is constructed entirely of industrial waste, organic materials, and other recycled items, making it one of Asia's largest recycling projects.


In the late 1950s, Chand, a road inspector from what is now Pakistan, began collecting electrical sockets, broken bangles, burnt-out bulbs, blown tires, and other bits of waste that had accumulated around Chandigarh. By 1965, working nights and weekends to avoid police detection, Chand had constructed an illicit sculpture garden, reworking found rubbish into hundreds of male, female, and animal figurines-some with real hair collected from barber shops-in a jungle clearing behind his home.Amazingly, the secret garden wasn't discovered until 1973, almost 15 years after he'd started the project. Officials found themselves in a bit of a pickle: Technically, it was illegally-occupying government land. Fortunately for Chand, and for us, a few enlightened officers weren't opposed to bending the rules. Not only was the project saved, Chand was given a salary and 50 laborers to dedicate himself full-time to the project, which was officially opened in 1976.

While official city support has waned over the years, the thousands of admirers from India and around the world have worked together to maintain the project-fighting to preserve access roads and restore it after brushes with vandalism. In 1997, Nek Chand Foundation was officially formed in London to work with Indian politicians to keep the park open. The Foundation also recruits foreign volunteers to help Chand clean, restore, and build new sculptures throughout the garden."People love the garden and the way it reveals itself to the visitor," says Professor Tony Rajer, U.S. director of the Nek Chand Foundation. Besides being a great source of pride for Chandigarh, the Rock Garden's inspired eco-friendly projects outside of India, such as the Children's Rock Garden in Washington, D.C. "Hundreds of school kids recycled broken pottery to make the garden," Rajer tells us. "It was a green effort." (Unfortunately, that garden was destroyed by vandals, although some of the individual sculpture was saved.)Now, an average of 3,000 people visit the Rock Garden each day, which makes it one of India's most-visited tourist attractions. And Nek Chand, who turns 83 this December, is still hard at work in the studio behind the garden, fixing mosaics and making new sculptures, and forcing us to reconsider the definition of trash.

The Rock Garden is located in north Chandigarh, Sector 1, and open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from October to March and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. between April and September. From New Delhi, the Shatabdi Express train runs two or three times daily to Chandigarh. The journey lasts about three hours. The foundation is always looking for volunteers. Fill out this form to apply.

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health