A programme to explore a more ecologically sensitive way of living
(Note: Scroll to the bottom of the page for camp reports and reading material)
“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.” – Native American saying
We now live in an age of ecological change and turmoil that is unprecedented in scale and rapidity in the history of the earth. We are grappling with a slew of converging crises, most of which are the direct result of human activity and the ‘religion’ of ‘Growth and Development’ that we have embraced in the past 250 years of industrialisation. Climate change, natural resource depletion, species extinction, environmental degradation, population pressure and human conflict resulting in large scale refugee crises are some of the problems we have to contend with. Some of these, like climate change, are reaching tipping points beyond which changes become irreversible.
Humans are the only species on earth that have had such a massive direct impact on the environment in which we live, by virtue of the tools and technologies that we have developed, in the process of the ‘development’ of our ‘civilization’. Though the longevity of human life has increased due to advances in medical technologies, our ‘Quality of Life’, especially in cities, has taken a direct hit as a result of environmental degradation.
The food we eat contains toxic chemicals, the air we breathe is polluted, the water we drink is becoming more scarce and more contaminated, our lifestyles are becoming more sedentary, our consumerist tendencies are increasing the consumption of natural resources and generating more waste than natural processes can handle, our communities are disintegrating, lifestyle diseases are more prevalent, mental health issues are on the rise and injustices to politically and economically weaker communities is increasing.
Competition is becoming more intense, starting in schools and spreading to every other sphere of life. There is a feeling of despondence and helplessness among people for being dependent on the market economy. There is a growing realization of the impossibility of changing anything merely by changing personal lifestyles. Personal changes like using cloth bags instead of plastic shopping bags, switching to CFL or LED lighting, recycling waste, using solar energy, buying organic produce etc. have been reduced to mere tokenism. A more systemic change in the way the world operates is required now.
Living in the midst of these man-made crises, it becomes our urgent responsibility to change the way we live, so that we can avert or reduce the impact of these crises on our lives. As a species, we are in the unique position of being able to understand the source of these problems and also bring about the large scale changes that are required to save the environment that supports our life on this planet. It’s time we pause and think through some of the fundamental aspects of our lives and the way we go about living it. This would include thinking about the kind of material and social needs and aspirations we have, and how we go about interacting with the environment, the organisms and people around us in trying to meet our needs. We have come to call this as ‘ecologising’ ourselves.
‘Ecologising’ is an attempt to explore and understand the reasons behind the individual alienation, disgruntlement that one might experience as a part of our urban lives and also the causes for the larger environmental and social crises that are causing immense suffering to people and other life forms. As we evolve in our understanding, we hope to also respond by finding alternative ways of living, learning and working towards a more personally meaningful and fulfilling life that is also less exploitative of nature and other people.
Ecologise Camp are programmes through which people can explore such an ecologically more sensitive and sustainable way of life. Ecologise Camps not only attempt to create awareness about the converging crises, but also explore changes that we can implement in our own lives at an individual and community level, in response to them.
Cities by their very nature are unsustainable and are a net consumer of basic resources (water, energy, food, raw materials etc.) from the hinterland. We will explore means for city dwellers to move to rural areas or smaller towns and also look at farming and non-farming means of livelihood that might be possible in these areas. Ways of living a ‘low impact’ life will be explored through discussion and sharing. We will also explore ways of building resilient communities that can weather the turbulences more successfully.
Activities at the camp will include some amount of hands-on farm work, personal reflections, discussions and sharing, film screenings, open-ended discussions and anything else that you might be inspired to do. An important aspect of the camp would be the experience of living and working on the farm as a community, close to nature, with only basic amenities. We hope that the experience of collective living, a simple lifestyle and manual labour – experiences that are often missing in cities, would help participants in making choices for their own life-paths.
Basic, camp-style accommodation and wholesome local food will be provided. You are welcome to bring along any seeds, saplings or anything else to share or exchange. Some reading material will also be distributed among the participants. The cost of the camp will be shared among the participants. Participants are welcome to pay more or less (or nothing), as their personal circumstances permit.
Farm Volunteer Programme
The camps will also serve as orientation for those individuals interested in exploring these issues in greater detail. They can volunteer with any of the host farms listed below for an extended period of time, extending from a few weeks to months. The farm volunteer programme will include farm work for part of the day. Volunteers will have sufficient time to engage in reading, thinking, watching relevant films and engaging in discussions with the host/mentor. Participants will experience rural, low-impact living.
During the programme, the participants, on an average will be involved for 4 hours of manual work per day. They will have access to books and some relevant films and videos. It is expected, however, that on the whole, they will spend less time on phones and the internet than they have been used to in their city life. Also connectivity is not very good on most farms. The programme does not offer fellowships nor does it expect participants to pay for their learning or stay. However, they will be expected to look after their own self-maintenance needs such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, medical needs, etc during their stay.
The following is a short list of farms that are interested in taking volunteers.
- Sangatya, Nakre, Udupi District, Karnataka – 10 km. from Karkala town. Contact person: Shreekumar
- Suman Sangam- A forest farm, Dharwad, Karnataka – 10 Km. From Dharwad City. Contact person: Sanjeev Kulkarni
- No Man’s Land Organic Farm, Sirsi, Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka – 16 km. from Sirsi town. Contact person: George Varghese
- Doddaubbanur, near Thally, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu – 60 km. from central Bangalore. Contact person: Vijay Kundaji
1. Ecologise Camps: An Introduction
2. Nature’s Methods Of Soil Management
3. Humanity Does Not Know Nature
4. On a Perspective for Renaissance of Agriculture
Henry David Thoreau
6. The Proper Use of Land
E F Schumacher
7. Gaia’s Will
Manu Kothari and Lopa Mehta
8. Fire & Accounting
9. Waiting for a Genius
Announcement: Ecologise Camp 4 near Thally, Tamil Nadu
Dates: April 16-17, 2016
Venue: A Small Three Acre Farm (“Asta Farm”), Hosur- Thally Road, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu
Land custodians: Gracy Elezebeth & Vijay Kundaji
Announcement: Ecologise Camp 3 at Sirsi, Karnataka
Dates: January 23-25, 2016
Venue: ‘No Man’s Land’ Farm, Sirsi, Uttara Kannada Dist., Karnataka
Host: George Varghese
Announcement: Ecologise Camp 2 at Dharwad, Karnataka
Date: November 14 -15, 2015
Venue: Suman Sangam– A forest farm, Dharwad, Karnataka
Host: Dr. Sanjeev Kulkarni
Report on Ecologise Camp 1 by Shreekumar
Outline of the schedule of events: field work in the morning, a session for discussion and a session for screening films on Saturday. Field work and discussion on Sunday. There were 34 participants (including 7 children) in the first session and two more joined the next morning taking the total number to 36.
Announcement: First Ecologise Camp at Nakre, near Udupi, Karnataka
Dates: August 15-16, 2015
Farm: Sangatya, Nakre, near Udupi, Karnataka