Aug 13, 2007, Auroville, India, Well the first GEN EDE course has started today. There were participants.
firstname.lastname@example.org, Vaikumar is Secretary of GREDS, he’s the head of an Ngo in Cudalor working on organic agriculture
Pradyut Nayek, email@example.com Village & Post – Basanti, 24 Pargauaus (South) West Bengal, India, C 094375 36334, from Bengal, but working in Orissa, with tribal’s to implement organic agriculture and wants to implement development projects.
Pobchan LeelasartsuntornI, firstname.lastname@example.org 25/2 M005 Tambol Klongg, Klong Luang, Pratumtani, 12120 Thailand, is working for a Thai NGO that does street theater on social and environmental issues and wants to start an Ecovillage community. Tel/fax 662 904 5665, mobil
Dr Amales Misra email@example.com 8/1b Raipur Rd (E), Kolkata 700032, West Bengal, India, ph 09433 943194 is the director of a small NGO working off the coast of Bengal and is an expert in Vermiculture And wants to create an EcoVillage on this island
Osmane Aly Pame firstname.lastname@example.org PO Box 5622 Dakar Fann, ph 221860 5363 from Senegal has just been hired as the Living Roots Director for Africa
Jake Pollack email@example.com Living Roots (LR) teacher, speaks tamil, study philosophy/religious studies, into yoga and Indian culture. Jake has studies at
Kundan Singh firstname.lastname@example.org LR Teacher, doing research into Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga
Jordan Chabalowski email@example.com , 858 River Lea Ct, Memsha, WI 54952, USA, A student for the Fall Semester of LR, is a college campus activist on environmental issues
Hugo Oliveira, firstname.lastname@example.org R.Lere De Vasconcelos M 40, 1 Andar 1170 200 Lisbon, Portugal, Europe, he is working with a Thai NGO and has taken this course before and he is keen to do EcoDesign for the project he’s working on.
Rosa Blanco email@example.com Apdo 614 2400, Desamparados, San Jose, Costa Rica C.A. tel (506) 259 7130
a dentist from Costa Rica and AV Guest for 1.5 month and has lived on a community in Costa Rico and want’s to try starting an EcoVillage in Costa Rico.
Sara Yasmine Ribeiroo firstname.lastname@example.org, Av. Boavista, def, Brastol, J66 3:Dto, 9100 132 Porta Protugal, C 35193 9563392, H 0035122 6069851 was born in Egypt, raised in Machu till 12 yrs and then returned to Portugal where she will start her uni course in Landscape Architecture.
Job Jensen, email@example.com Frans Halcstraat 7, 1816 CM Alkmarr, Natherland,
studied dance at university, and has wanted to start an EcoVillage.
(Nico) Carlos Nicolau Antunes, firstname.lastname@example.org Av Arantes Oliveira, 27, 11 C, 1900-221 Lisbon, Portugal, M351962 695956, born in Mozambique, actor, director and Teacher, presently teatching at Evora University, Portugal, he would like to recycle one of the many abandoned villages in PortugalLidia Robertson, email@example.com Rua dos Lusíadas No 10 - 1 Dto, 2780-341 Oeiras, Portugal. Tel. 00351 214435249 / 00351 965811177. Responsible for workshop introducing schoolchildren to the relations between nature, tribal peoples & music.
Nikolai firstname.lastname@example.org Working in Fertile with Johnny, has organized Earth Days in AV
Auro Ancole email@example.com Nilatangam, 605101, Auroville, South India born and bred in AV, is working for N&N and AV Today
Eugen (AV) firstname.lastname@example.org Courage, Auroville 605101 India, 2623137, Eugen (Swiss) works as an independent architect, a real estate appriser for the Housing Service and town planner for Auroville. His office is in Courage.
Manjot email@example.com, Botanical Gardens, Auroville 605101, Ms Fix it extraordinaire, did her MA in International Finance, hated it and is now joining Auroville, she’s made more friends in 6 months than most Aurovillians do in 4 yrs…
Marti firstname.lastname@example.org, Success, Auroville, 605101, On the GEN Board, on the GEN EDE board, taught Uni in France, an environmental activist, photographer extraordinaire,
Tlaloc email@example.com New Creation Field, Auroville, 605101, Teacher Living Roots Auroville. Has taught on Sustainable Development at University. Has worked in Micronesia, Australia, Hawaii and India on environment/sustainable issues. A wanderer and wonderer and loves the exotic road. His base is Auroville.
Here is one person’s insight into the participants:
Pradyut always has interesting things to say. He speaks from a wealth of experience.
Rosa always ask great questions, and teaches us songs from around the world. She also plays lovely music from her bag of musical instruments around the world.
Job is always forthcoming with his concerns and always ask for clarification if he doesn’t understand. This trait is invaluable for other in the class who also may not understand but don’t question
Jordan is always positive, friendly and supportive. He brings very good energy to the meetings.
Tlaloc is the joker, making jokes about any and everything.
Jake speaks so quietly and gives us chants to follow in banjan style. He is also torn between the course and organizing the Living Roots program.
Sara writes notes non stop, is usually late for all sessions and when she gives input it is good input.
Hugo was quite but has a lot of knowledge about ecological design having taken this GEN EDE course several years ago with one of the best EDE teachers, Max Lindiger, but wanted to take the course again because he will soon be designing a EcoVillage for a NGO in Thailand where he is volunteering.
Pobchan wants to start an EcoVillage in Thailand where she is from. She is part of a drama troupe who are educating children and adults about a wide range of social issues. She always starts her talk with “I don’t speak good English’ and after she would say something she would ask ‘Do you understand?’. Most of us always understood Pobchan.
Amales is usually quite and reserve, but he has a lot of knowledge. He has a bit of a disadvantage due to the English that most of the speakers use is difficult for him to understand. During the course he has unlocked his acting potential and really likes to perform.
Osmane is taking the course so that he can start an ecovillage in Senegal when he returns.
Nokolai is usually quite but gives good input when he’s on a topic he feels passionate about.
Ancolie was a bit quite in the beginning but she quickly changed and offers her input often on a wide range of topics.
Nico seems to see things as black and white or take positions and will not be shifted from them
Lidiya is Sara’s aunt is interested in the course because she feels that teaching about sustainability is very important. She is usually quite and takes things in.
Kunda started the course as an academic and wanted to engage everyone in academic rigor. He mellowed out as the course moved on.
Vengadesh thought his English was good enough but the problem is the pronouciation and the speed of the presenters. So he gained very little from the presentations. He quit after the first week. We had sent all the Indian NGO’s a note stating that they would need sufficient English to do the course.
Eugen spoke little in the beginning but in the end talked a lot. He always came late and left early and didn’t really bond with the group.
So a nice mix from around the globe. We had several hip ups technologically speaking, the projector/computer interface was not possible (it had to do with Mac compatibility or lack there of). We thought it was our problem but it was the computer/projector interface.
The Theater Sports was a highlight of the evening. Everyone had a great time making fools of themselves and laughing. This was part of the glue that started to bind our living community together…
Matrimandir: We visited the VC and watched two movies on Auroville and the Matrimandir, the ‘temple and soul of AV’. Then we went to the Matrimandir and visited inside and went up to the inner chamber. This hollow sphere with its marble areas and long ramps leading up the inner chamber is an unusal building. We were able to meditate for 10 mins only because we were on a tour and that is the allotted time. One interesting thing happened when some of our ‘community’ were in the IC. They sat next to a very large and unfit older person. The walk up to the IC made his heart beat wildly and so he was very laborious breathing which was due to the over stressed heart. Our guide came up to him on several occasions asking him to be quiet!
20/8 morning meeting:
Here is the feedback:
Please have participants list for all the participants
A list was complied and sent on Tue/Wed via email to all participants
Please try and get handouts prior to the class.
We sent an email to all participants requesting again to send us the handouts prior to the presentation. We also explained that Aurovillians don’t always get around to doing things prior to their presentation…
Please have daily review and feedback time integrated into the program
We have implemented this in
Please have one venue for all the presentations and have a bigger place
The issue of punctuality has come up again, several of the participants continue to be late.
The issue of bike flats and having the bikes ready access at lunch (not parked at College Guest House)
Day 13, 29/8
Tlaloc then gave examples of how PSD works in the hot desert area, the cold temperate areas (Sweden, Canada), tropical (Hawaii) and the hot wet tropics (Auroville-which is the hardest area), and temperate (Portugal, USA etc). PSD works very well in all different climatic zones. However the one area that is difficult is the hot humid areas of the world. By using insulation in roofs and walls and smart glazing or double glazing to restrict heat and cold gains and loses in your home, coupled with sitting of house can make homes very comfortable without the use on any other energy (electricity, gas, air conditioning etc).
After lunch Tlaloc went over retrofitting and how to make existing housing stock more energy efficient. He also went over how you could incorporate ponds, baffle walls, window placement, pole houses to utilise the wind and other natural elements to make inside living comfortable. Cultural design was also discussed, eg window placement where people are sitting on the floor.
We tried to do a workshop on students designing their own PSD house, but this failed due to the students not having enough information from the presentation. However they did learn that envelop, insulation, windows, positioning of house were very important areas to make one’ house more energy efficient.
In the evening Jesse did Theater Sports with the group and most of the group really enjoyed it. Great performances were had by Amales, Jordan, Job and Sara. Rosa and
Hugo were working on giving another workshop on Permaculture’s zone I from 8-10pm.
Day 14, Local Foods, 30/8
We rode our bikes to the Botanical Gardens where Stephan gave us a presentation on the work he is doing on seed production of heirloom seeds species of the night shade family, squash, corn, and a few other species and of the extension work he’s doing with farmer in our bio-region and also in other areas (Ooty, near Bangalore). He also shared some experimental work he’s doing with charcoal in growing and shared the test results (very high production and no pest). He stressed the need to grown and promotes heirloom seed varieties. Later he showed the seeds he gives to local and distant farmers and some people took them to try in their respective areas. However Pobchan didn’t, she couldn’t due to Custom officials in Thailand. This was a pity.
After this Pradyut and Tlaloc gave a walking tour of the BG and discussed the different plants and technologies in the area. Then they all biked to Solitude to have lunch. Krishna and team provided an organic meal for us. It was only OK. Nothing to shout about. However some people have said that this was a very good place to eat. Before we ate Krishna gave us a talk on the food we were going to eat and after lunch he gave us a talk on the origins of Solitude and the philosophical bases of the community and farming practices e.g. they follow M Fukuoka’s (One Straw Revolution) philosophy of farming. It is a continued trail and adaptation. However overall the farm is doing well. It was interesting to see the way Solitude generates its income. The running cost of the farm is covered by the daily lunches that the community provides to guest and Aurovillians. This is a very creative solution to the crops they are growing and adding value to their crops.
After this Krishna took us on a tour of the farm and showed how they are trying to incorporate Fukuoka’s philosophy. Pradyut shared a lot of his knowledge and it was a great sharing of information.
Then we went to Buddha Garden where Priya gave us a very sobering view of organic farming. Her presentation made a lot of people a bit down because of all the obstacles she faces. We also found it interesting that they were using hybrid seeds (almost a contradiction of being an organic farm). After the explanation we did a tour of the farm and however we lost a number of participants by the end of the tour. Those who did the entire tour came to the conclusion that the others were not inspired by this negative tour at all and so didn’t want to continue. There were some successes, like the banana and papaya plantation. We had suggested that Priya use the seeds of Botanical Garden but she said that she had tried them on a number of occasions but they never had good germination. We thought this was very interesting since Stephan had told us contradicting information. So we don’t know where we stand on all this. The vast majority of participants liked Solitude Farm’s the best.
Then we biked back to College Guest House and other destinations. We all got together for dinner at Town Hall with another great meal and then onto Centre Guest House to watch How Cuba Survived Peak Oil. Which is a very inspirational film on how Cuba was able to beat the US embargo and Russian’s elimination of its subsidies to its satellite countries. They introduced a wide range of energy efficiency, organic farming, community health that gives us all a model of what we need to do in the future. A very relevant and inspiring film about pace setters of an eco world.
31/8 Day 15 Restoring nature:
The presentation was running by Paul from Botanical Garden (BG), he works in ecorestoration since seven years ago in BG, bringing back what was lost after the total deforestation ten years ago in BG’s fields before Auroville brought the land.
He basically suggests to observe nature and it patterns, it wisdom, trying to mimic this, using native and local species rather than exotic, this will facilitate it care of water and energy, also this will provide the attraction of local animal species (different birds, little mammals), for this more biodiversity, therefore we will help to develop a sustainable habitat.
Paul gave a very personal point of view, aim towards the search of the utility of our relationship between the Nature, arguing that when we have some interest in the human being development is easier to find ways to work pro-nature providing security in the survival of the species involved, for the potential benefit that it represents to humans.
After Paul, Regina show us some pictures of Auroville, some decades ago, with the beginning of the reforestation process, and some other pictures from the canyon and swales that with the aim of water harvesting, aurovillians had develop through the time. Interesting to see the pictures and then walk through the same place after the lunch, feeling the work and the time that hug this lands, completely dry now but silently waiting for rain, walking in line one after the other, climbing banyan tree, waiting for Sara who knows perfectly the sensation of each stone, each leave of grass, each thorn in her barefoot feet.
In the evening we celebrate Manjot’s birthday finally, after some delay but full of love and sweet chocolate cake!!
Afterwards Job (with Rosa’s assistance) gave a creative dance workshop. Job was leaving the next day so he wanted to give us a gift (the dance workshop) which everyone really enjoyed and we were into it for about an hour but then the rains decided to intercede. So we moved the dance inside and we had a great time dancing but the workshop was over. Most of the participants slept at the American Pavilion (where the workshop was held) due to the rain that went for many hours into the night.
1/9 For the afternoon the participants had requested a workshop on Role Play and resolving conflict. So a workshop was planned but Elvira, the presenter fell sick so couldn’t do it. So Hugo and later Rosa burned a lot of DVD’s on the materials participants had seen during the workshop. This continued for the next few days. Most of us had dinner at Centre Guest House. Lidia left the program today. She did not have the funds to do any further. She thought that she could get more funds from Europe; however she couldn’t so she withdrew today.
Sunday: We met at Aurelec Cafeteria for lunch. The participants enjoyed the wide variety of food. After that we went to visit Rolf in Petit farm where he showed us his house, his water catchment system, his water inventions, Manfred’s soap making and some of his mineral salt activities. He even made an Argon machine which Wilhelm Reich developed.
Then we went to meet Kireet at Gaia’s Garden and then he took us for a walk to see the work he is doing with check dams in Auroville. Kireet has been instrumental in stopping all rain water flowing into the oceans (along with all the greenbelters who are doing regeneration work). Now very little rains ever go into the ocean. The trapped water that percolates back into the ground recharging the aquifer. We were all impressed with this amazing project. Later we toured Kireet’s Gaia’s Garden which is a very well maintained guest house.
Most of us met for dinner at the VC.
3/9 Social Enterprise
Marc led the workshop on the principles of Social Enterprise. Showing us the differences between a fair trade and the “free commerce trade”, explaining that fair trade is not a charity movement but an empower people movement for those who want to be empower and begging their own business.
He explained some of the criteria of a fair trade business that should be followed before embarking on a fair trade endeavor.
- creating opportunities - transparency in accounts
- training capacity - promote fair trade
- pay fair price - equality of gender
- working conditions -child work
-Ambient issues -commercial relations
After Marc, Uma introduced to us “Tsunamika”, one of her ideas and creation, inspiring people to keep going with their lives after the tsunami hit the coast. People from the villages, basically women, started to get together to be trained to produced this little doll, the size of a thumb who will became a symbol of hope and friendship around the world. More than one million of little Tsunamikas were made and send around the world without as a gift, without selling them or exchange them for money.
Uma has a lot of innovative ideas, using design principles to helping others and the humanity in general. She also explained “Small Steps”, which highlighted a the simple way of taking action do to something positive for the environment.
Osmane took his leave from us today, his flight connections to Africa are very difficult and only a few flights per week. So we have lost three participants in the space of 3 days.
We had dinner at the Visitor’s Centre
4/9 Personal Empowerment and LeadershipMarc and Elvira ran this workshop.
Then Marc did a workshop on the Great Idea Workshop. He informed us that this was the first time he had ever done this as a workshop. He normally just does this on his own. This was developed by from Stanford University, CA, USA. Some people thought the workshop could have done in about ½ to ¾ of the time it actually took.
After lunch Elvira did a workshop on conflict and role playing. She gave us a handout which identified about 8 rolls and the rest which were chosen by the participants and the rest of the participants were observers, however Elvira asked us to note the times and ways in which the moderators addressed the conflict. Everyone who had a part in the role play did a very good job (Elvira had given us all handouts which identified the issues and roles everyone had and then the players just interpreted the role play. It was very realistic for those of us who were observers. Elvira debriefed the actors after the role play so that they wouldn’t harbor any ill feelings from the acting.
Overall the day was very interesting and we learned a number of ways of trying to deal with conflict.
Dinner was at the Town Hall however Tlaloc, Jake and Kundan had another meeting there for the Living Roots program so we had a much smaller group.
5/9 The energy of the group has fallen due to three of our members leaving. Sara has also informed us that she is leaving on Thursday. Most of the participants showed up 15min late. Several also fell asleep, during Isha’s presentation. She and Tlaloc explained the historical setting of the Aurovillians, the SAS (Sri Aurobindo Society: who at the time of 78’ were the owners of Auroville and of the great conflict that took place for over 10 yrs) and the eventual moves by Auroville to ask the Central Gov to step in and protect them from the SAS. At the time the intent of the legislation that but Auroville under the control of the Indian Government was only to protect Auroville, but to give us self rule and operations. However recent events seem to point to the Central Gov trying to gain control of Auroville.
Auroville is an unusual EcoVilllage with its relationship with a Federal (Central) Government. This is not a good model for any EcoVillage to follow. Self determination and self sufficiency are hallmarks of an EcoVillage, these principles should never be compromised. EcoVillages have to have a working relationship with governments at the shire and state level but would hopefully this would be minimal. So it was stressed that all the participants should try and maintain an arms length approach, yet co-operative approach with local and State governments.
After Isha’s talk tlaloc had the participants working on their EcoVillage Design or telling about their dreams of what they envisioned.
We went to Indus Valley for lunch. Indus Valley Café is the only eatery in Auroville that works on the gift economy. It serves North Indian food daily. The gift economy means that people elect to pay whatever they want. The café has been operating for over a year and has a steady clientele. After lunch Pobchan, Amrels, Pradyut went to Upasana to visit Uma and her design studio. Due to this they and a couple of others were late for the afternoon session with Lyle.
Lyle is on several finance committees in Auroville and he gave a very informative talk on the finances of Auroville. Auroville has a very large budget and raises 95% of its own budget (Auroville also gets many grants from overseas but this total is not included in the operating budget of Auroville). Lyle also discussed some disturbing trends within Auroville. The Secretary is trying to be a signatory of all checks (cheques) within Auroville. Aurovillle has been arguing against this move. This is seen as another example of more interference and another example of the Central Government’s grab for more power.
Lyle said that for any community to be sustainable communities needed to have three main criterias about their finance. The first was transparency, all members of the community needed to have access to all financial transactions. The second was accountability. There has to be a paper trail of all incomes and expenses and books need to be kept to show this. The third was????
All of Lyle’s references on finance was about Auroville however Tlaloc would point out how these issue were relevant to other EcoVillages in general. Everyone enjoyed the workshop because it raised a number of relevant issues for anyone wanting to start and EcoVillage.
Lucas gave a workshop on EM (Effective Micro-organisms). He stress the importance of changing our perceptions from fearing virus and bacteria’s because the vast majority of them are beneficial not harmful and they play a major roll in re-generating soil, purifying water, creating life on earth, breaking down waste (there is no waste in nature – ones waste is another’s food) etc. EM was developed by Dr. Teuro Higa, from Japan, and it has many applications. From sanitation, to using in dumps, to agriculture, to control of mosquitoes (Lucas doesn’t think this works – but we have noticed a drastic fall in mosquitoes after they applied EM in our meeting hall) etc. Lucas was kind enough to donate his power point presentation to the participants and also a short movie about EM. Lucas claims the cost if very inexpensive. However the one thing that is a problem with EM as is Bio-Dynamics is the re-occurring cost of the inputs that are manufactured and sold. Lucus also informed us that there are many Indian (and other country imitations) of EM but their effectiveness is highly questionable.
6/9 Appropriate Technology: There was a last minute hiccup, the lecture hall we were going to use at CSR (Centre for Science and Research – which we had reserved a month ago) had to be postponed because another seminar took priority over ours (Tency the person who manages part of CSR and the lecture hall was using it for a group of people from Japan). So being the true we are, we had a session on having participants sharing their dreams about what they envisioned for their EcoVillage. There were a wide range of ideas and dream and format that the participants shared with us. They were as diverse as we are (yet we also feel unified as a learning and sharing community).
After tea the group headed over to CSR to find out about this major research institution and about Appropriate Technology. Appropriate Technology was coined by EF Shumacher (Small is Beautiful – 73’). This book created a movement of AT and this has spread around the world. There are a number of criteria’s that AT uses. Its simple to use, it uses renewable energy or fossil fuels efficiently, can be made and repaired by the user, it is often made from the materials at hand within the environment that it is going to be used, it is often directed at third world cultures (but not limited to).
Alok gave a presentation on the AT research going on in Auroville. They covered solar research, ferro cement, water treatment,
After seeing all the AT at CSR we went across the street to Auro Mode, where we went to look at their DEWATS living system sewage system. This system purifies the water via holding filtering beds and reed beds which produces safe water when it finally passes through the last reed stage. This system can be used for small communities or a cluster of houses if you have access year round water. We also saw?????
Then we went to the Solar Kitchen to eat and then we went on the roof to see the parabolic reflector. Parabolic concentrate the sun’s energy on a focal point and can create very high temperatures. The Solar Kitchen’s parabolic creates steam which is used for preparing the lunch evening meals.
We also visited Prosperity, which is an Aurovillian complex which houses the New Pour Tous (where people can take food and other household items), Nandini where people can get their curtains, pillow cases, and other decorative household items, the Free Store where people can get clothing items and a wide range of items which people drop off (second hand) however there is also a lot of new items which come from the other units within Auroville (that make clothes etc and they donate these new items),