Saturday afternoon at the Katonah Library the Gharana Music Foundation of Katonah and the City Museum of Kathmandu hosted the opening benefit exhibit of Building a Better Nepal: Art, Community, Sustainability. The afternoon also including a classical guitar solo by Nilko Andreas Guarin.
“Art brings us all together,” said Gharana’s founder Daniel Linden, and it was the Katonah resident who initially sought out the synergy to bridge common cause across thousands of miles.
Linden began the Gharana Music Foundation to promote classical music appreciation and education in Nepal. He teamed up with the City Museum in hopes of providing classical music instruction at the Early Childhood Development Centre in Kathmandu. A home for the children of incarcerated, establishing a music program is the goal
Linden’s most significant early outreach began after the 2015 earthquake in Kathmandu when he hosted a four day musical festival and benefit in the beleaguered city.
As for the collaboration, Linden had read about City Museum of Kathmandu and eventually made his way there. “When I first went there, I just liked the whole scene,” he said. “We talked and I got Kashish Das Shrestha, who is the director of the museum and a fourth generation photographer, interested in my initiative,” Linden says.
The presentation by Das Shrestha centered on the 2015 quake. Exhibiting numerous instances of the fallen infrastructure, his photographic acumen also tied the sustainability issue to the humanitarian uncertainty that followed. “There were a hundred or so aftershocks in the following days,” Das Shrestha said. “People were living in the streets and the lack of open space or public parks for them made the situation worse.”
The four or five public parks that did exist had no running water, septic system or power sources. This initiative hopes to stir momentum to increase the open space, develop systems to capture rainwater and solar power in the event of future emergencies.
An earthquake probably won’t be among them – give or take a 100 years. “About once a century, Nepal gets hit with a major earthquake, and over the last 800 years the city has been rebuilt 15 times,” said Das Shrestha.
He detailed the city’s intangible and tangible resources. “The ancient buildings are the tangibles, while the generations of artisans who follow in the family footsteps are the intangible that have always done the rebuilding,” he said.
The proof was in his photographs that showed how quickly the rubble was reaching for the sky. “The city bounces back,” he said. “It’s like a living museum.”
The family tradition is so ingrained that the artisans who make their living producing miniature art of old buildings and temples put their business on hold. “They are turning down a lot of work from around the world to do what their families before them did,” said Das Shrestha.
But the trick of selling planning and sustainability to the largest growing urban setting in Asia requires a connection to daily routine. “You can’t address climate change that way. You have to bring the discussion back to the basics,” he said.
So the initiative seeks to make their case by tying sustainability to the larger issues of the whole city. For one, that means getting people to understand that the local lake system does not have unlimited potential – especially since 90% of the water is tapped into illegally. “We need a rainwater capture system so the city can sustain itself,” said Das Shrestha.
The another key connection is plainly in the air and begs Kathmandu for a solar power system. “We have terrible smog,” he says, “from the high usage of firewood and fossil fuel.”
That gave way to the showcase of Das Shrestha photography of the ancient city, the artwork, and handcrafted Nepali jewelry, whose proceeds will benefit both causes.
For more informaiton, please visit: http://www.gharanamusicfoundation.org/