Innovation, Urban Experiment and Desert Farm

“Urban explorers are the only people who, between us, know it all. We move between each network. We know where they link up – often, it’s us who made the link. The authorities, the police, town hall, they don’t know a hundredth, a thousandth, of what’s down there.”

-Lazar Kunstmann, spokesman UX

Sometimes innovation comes from unexpected group of people like slum dwellers, inner city gangs etc. Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Philips have written book about such groups- Misfit Economy. Two such examples are Urban eXperiment – UX and Desert Farm.



In 1981 an informal group of people, calling themselves UX, stole plans of the many underground passageways and tunnels in Paris. The informal group consists of artists, hackers, architects, IT specialists, historians etc. This group uses underground passages as their base and from there carry out various activities.


One such activity was repairing of Pantheon clock in Paris. The clock was not working for quite some time and French government was not interested/lacked fund to get the clock repaired. UX decided to repair the clock. They managed to get inside Pantheon building, studied the condition of clock and started repairing it (group had watch makers in addition to architects and historians). They managed to get the clock repaired and clock chimed for first time after many years. The security guards and police were unable to detect activities for this group.


The group also runs a cinema with bar and restaurant, stages classical plays etc. in underground passages. All group members are professionals who do their legitimate job in day ex. doctors, professors, engineers etc. and in night come together and do activities which fall in grey area. Structure of group is very informal and this informality leads to innovative ideas.

Second idea may not sound innovative to Indians, but in US it was innovative.

“I don’t think this product is for the average joe. It’s more for the well-aware, health-conscious community.”

-Walid Abdul Wahab


An Arab student in US Walid Abdul Wahab was familiar with benefits of camel’s milk and decided sell camel’s milk in US. Problem was selling of camel’s milk was unheard of in US. Walid tied up with unusual group of people for supply of camel’s milk. The Amish Farmers too had no experience of milking camels, but they decided to try it, they brought camels, formed a cooperative and decided to sell fresh camel’s milk. So collaboration of Arab and Amish Farmers resulted in formation of Desert Farm which sells camel’s milk in US. Camel’s milk is believed to be beneficial to autistic children, so majority of their customers are parents of autistic children.


Indians are familiar with milk cooperative and camel’s milk. But in US this unusual combination of Arab buying milk from Amish farmers and selling it to parents of autistic children was certainly innovative.


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