The Worli Koliwada Project, initiated by RPG Foundation in collaboration with The Locavore, aims to meaningfully draw attention to the Worli Koliwada area (in Mumbai) and its inhabitants—through the prism of food—along with helping find effective ways of income generation.
Did you know that the Worli Koliwada coastline forms one of the oldest parts of Mumbai city? One of the seven original islands that make up Mumbai, it is an urban village that has deep roots within the annals of Indian history.
While the original inhabitants of this coastline were members of the Koli community—a community of indigenous fisherfolk—today they constitute only 40 per cent of the population. At present, the Worli Koliwada is a vibrant multicultural settlement made up of migrants from nearly all over the country (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Telangana and other parts of Maharashtra), and as a result, has very distinct cultures, traditions and practices. These communities face numerous challenges posed by rapid urbanisation and the ongoing climate crisis, often resulting in their displacement, and a loss of livelihood and heritage.
Despite these pressures, and given how surviving in Mumbai is no easy feat for indigenous and migrant populations, the Worli Koliwada communities have managed to stay afloat, showing grit and resilience.
Recognising their rich history and culture, the Worli Koliwada Project aims to support them in showcasing their culinary heritage and food culture, and through this, sustain themselves financially. Our role in this project will be both as facilitators and incubators.
So what exactly does this mean, and how does RPG Foundation and The Locavore intend to put this into action?
Here are our plans for the Worli Koliwada Project (WKP), keeping the Worli Koliwada communities, their culinary heritage, and fishing practices at the heart of our efforts:
- Build more awareness around the Worli Koliwada area through storytelling, as well as on-ground activities. While the focus will remain on their culinary practices and traditions, it wouldn’t be possible without bringing in aspects of their socio-economic history, identity, and culture.
- Bring back the focus on traditional foods eaten by the communities residing in Worli Koliwada, and help reclaim a sense of pride in their diverse foodways shaped by their lives along the coast. The Locavore will help document their culinary heritage.
- Integrate food stops within curated heritage walks led by RPG Foundation, with food cooked by the communities that reside in the Worli Koliwada area. Our belief is that this will encourage more Mumbai residents to engage with and learn about the inhabitants of this coastline, as well as give the locals an opportunity to showcase their delicious fare.
- Provide the community with the tools to improve or create new sources of livelihood. For instance, by setting up a cloud kitchen out of which food businesses can be run by existing women Self-Help Groups (SHGs).
- Create awareness about the fishing practices of the Koli community in this area, and the challenges the fisherfolk face. We also intend to make consumers aware about ways to consume seafood sustainably through visual content, informative posters, guided fish market tours, etc.
How You Can Get Involved
In order to execute these plans for the Worli Koliwada Project, The Locavore is looking for Marathi-speaking volunteers from Mumbai. We are keen to work with individuals who recognise the need to work with sensitivity and thoughtfulness. The volunteers will be expected to accompany us on field visits, and spend adequate time in Worli Koliwada to produce meaningful outcomes.
- Lead Writer – To write stories and articles for The Locavore—aligned with the scope of the project—with honesty and depth. The writer must be willing to spend time with the resident communities, and commit to the duration of the project (3 months). Ideally, someone who has worked in the food, community, or climate sustainability space, and has experience in ethnography. (This is a paid position.)
- Writing & Research Volunteer – To gather information, conduct interviews, and write stories aligned with the scope of the project, and assist the lead writer in executing the project by doing ethnographic fieldwork and background research . They will be primarily reporting to the Lead Writer, and helping them tell diverse stories from the Worli Koliwada region.
- Visual Storytellers – To identify unique stories, create visual narratives, and digital content for social media. They will be responsible for making reels and posts for Instagram, writing captions, and putting together Instagram Stories for the Worli Koliwada Project.
- Translator – In order to make all the collateral and content that we produce accessible to the Worli Koliwada community, we need someone to translate it seamlessly in Hindi and Marathi. The translator must have provided professional translation solutions before, in English, Hindi, and Marathi.
- Photographers & Videographers – To document the entire process, from beginning till end, through photos and videos. They will accompany The Locavore team on field visits, and should ideally have a basic understanding of spoken Marathi.
- Chef Volunteers – Young professional cooks and experienced chefs are all welcome! We need help to put together the food trail and cloud kitchen by tasting, testing, and tweaking the existing traditional recipes of the Worli Koliwada.
- Social Workers – We will be working extensively with women-run Self Help Groups in the Worli Koliwada to help scale up their existing businesses. If you have experience in social work and community development, we would love to have you on board as volunteers to help with the training and mentoring of these women.
If any of these roles sound interesting to you, volunteer to be on the Worli Koliwada Project team by filling out this Volunteer Callout Form. All our volunteers will be compensated for their time and labour with a stipend.
The Heritage Project, an heritage initiative of RPG Foundation, works to bring back to glory, sites of cultural and social importance. It aims to help the masses engage with, relive, and experience our heritage through practical new approaches, keeping in mind the evolving, fast paced world.
The Locavore is partnering with the RPG Foundation to work within the Worli Koliwada geography to provide the tools for self-reliance for the Worli Koliwada community, as a part of their Heritage Revival Project.
RPG Foundation collaborates with Government entities, not-for-profits and other civil society organisations to develop innovative solutions to social challenges in India. They are committed to catalysing sustainable social change through holistic interventions that are impactful, scalable and ultimately help build an equitable society. One such intervention is the Heritage Revival Project.