Dates: January 23-25, 2016
Venue: ‘No Man’s Land’ Farm, Danandi Village, Sirsi Taluk, Uttara Kannada Dist., Karnataka
Host: George Varghese, [email protected]; +91 9481278348
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 a 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 is contaminated with chemicals, the air we breathe is polluted, the water we drink is becoming more scarce and more polluted, 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 all other spheres 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 lights from incandescent, recycling waste, using solar energy, buying organic produce etc. have now 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.
A possible way out of this is to take time to pause and think through some of 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 issues 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 Camps are programmes through which people can explore living in an ecologically more sensitive and sustainable manner.
This Ecologise Camp attempts to create awareness about the converging crises. We will gain some understanding of the magnitude of the problems that the planet faces. Together, we will explore changes that we can implement in our own lives at an individual and community level, to live in a more sustainable manner. Cities by their very nature are unsustainable and are a net consumer of basic resources (water, energy, food, raw materials etc.) from a large area of hinterland. We will explore means of moving 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, documentary film viewing, more 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.
The camp will start on Saturday, 23rd January evening at 6.00pm and finish on Monday, 25th January night. Participants are welcome to arrive anytime on Saturday (before 6.00pm) and leave on Monday night or anytime on Tuesday, 26th January (Republic Day public holiday). See www.nomanslandfarm.in for more information about the host farm.
Sirsi is well connected by KSRTC buses to all parts of Karnataka and neighbouring towns in Maharashtra and Goa. Several private buses ply overnight between Sirsi and Bangalore. The nearest railway stations are Talguppa (overnight train from Bangalore and Mysore) and Haveri (on Bangalore-Hubli route) both of which are 70 Kms from Sirsi.
Farm Volunteer Programme
This camp will also serve as an 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 documentary films and engaging in long 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
The optimum number of participants including the hosts and resource persons is in the range of 25-30. So to avoid disappointment book early. Also January is holiday season so the trains and buses will be heavily booked. Participants and resource persons can arrive a day earlier and leave a day after. Even longer stay either way is possible if we are informed about it.