Mangoes, meat and motors: confronting the climate on Manchester’s Curry Mile

curry mileEarlier this month researchers from the University’s Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI), Zarina Ahmad and Sherilyn MacGregor, held a highly successful event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science. ‘Mangoes, meat and motors: confronting the climate on Manchester’s Curry Mile’ took place at the Whitworth Art Gallery on Tuesday 8 November.

The purpose of the event was to have a community-facing, friendly and generative discussion about how to make the Curry Mile a place that serves people and the environment better. The ideas shaping the event emerged from the Leverhulme-funded project ‘Towards Inclusive Environmental Sustainabilities (TIES)’.  The project aims, among other things, to challenge the dominant Western conceptions of sustainability that inform socio-environmental policies and research, and to explore how Global South immigrant knowledges and practices contribute to socially just and sustainable urban environments in the UK.

The Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) is part of the University of Manchester and researches how reconfiguring consumption and production systems can contribute to less resource-intensive ways of life. The SCI projects explore the social relationships that hinder change, as well as those that might enable the transition to greater sustainability.

About 50 people attended the event, joining first to view an exhibition of 24 photos submitted by local people over food and drink. Following the exhibition came some introductory remarks by Dr Safina Islam, Head of the AIURRRC and Zahid Hussain, writer and Manchester City Councillor for Levenshulme. Attendees participated in a ‘World Café’ facilitated by Zarina Ahmed, guided by the question: how does life, work and play on the Curry Mile help and/or hurt the environment? From the answers generated by the small group discussion, the team will produce a short report that combines TIES research with insights and photos from a diversity of local people.

It was encouraging that, in addition to local residents, the event was attended by business people, grassroots activists, and ten councillors and officers of Manchester City Council. The photos were scored by three independent judges, Jenna Ashton, Zahid Hussain and Qaisra Shahraz MBE. The event received funding from the University of Manchester ESRC Festival team and the Sustainable Consumption Institute.  Donations were received from two long-established businesses on the Curry Mile: £300 worth of gift vouchers as prises for the top three photos from My Lahore and assorted Mithai to feed tables from Sanam Restaurant and Sweet Centre.