chapter  7
4 Pages

The Bus Stop: Cultivating Community

We had observed elsewhere the density of life and commerce which clusters around places where buses stop. People will gather and wait for substantial periods of time and so, often and in small steps, small shops and coffee houses will open to serve them, shoeshine boys and other street hawkers will appear. These same people will carry their fish or other produce to city markets and will spread their baskets on the ground to sell what they can to passers-by while they wait. At first, a small market emerges: cheaply, spontaneously, incrementally and in response to demand and to circumstances. No-one designed a market place, no-one contrived a centre. Instead, conditions for trade were informally structured so that if it wanted to happen it could and, if not, very little investment was wasted and no-one would suffer. At the same time, with the newly installed streetlights, children would gather at night to do their homework, in the absence of lighting in their own homes. And where children gather, so do informal vendors selling candy, soft drinks, pencils and paper, exercise books and the rest. At the existing standpipe, more work and organization to integrate this facility into this new place are done – a new water trust had been set up and improvements to this, and other water supply facilities, were under way. Later, we would seek to find a place for Mela’s new waste management resource centre and expand this to include a meeting place for all the organizations now working in this settlement.