Letter from Shreekumar of Sangatya Commune, who hosted the first Ecologise Camp
We had a good beginning to the Ecologise programme with the first orientation camp held at Sangatya Commune, Nakre, Karkala. The first session, held after dinner on Friday, August 14, 2015, was meant for getting acquainted with one another. After a welcome by Shreekumar on behalf of Sangatya, the participants, who came from a variety of backgrounds and from various parts of India, introduced themselves in detail. The schedule of events for the next two days was outlined: 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. The field work on both days included planting saplings, digging trenches, pruning gliricidia trees and mulching. The physical work was accompanied by sharing of knowledge. Usha's presence was of immense value. Saturday's discussion session began with an introduction by Vijayendra and the screening of Village of the Watermills from Akira Kurosawa's film, Dreams. Sunday's discussion was based on a paper by Venkat, On a Perspective for Renaissance of Agriculture. At the end, the participants made resolutions regarding their efforts to ecologise their lifestyles. Listed below are the important things articulated during the discussions (feel free to suggest additions, modifications or deletions): 1. The Earth is sick. Healing it is of great urgency. It is necessary to bring more people to the task of healing. 2. Supporting the prevailing capitalist system, directly or indirectly, will make the planet more sick. Therefore more and more people must be involved in building a sustainable, local economy. 3. In order to participate in healing the Earth, people must connect with the land. The peasantry must be nurtured rather than exploited. 4. Planning of land use must be done at the level of watershed instead of individual land holdings. People must have usufruct rights for land rather than ownership, i.e. right to use, not to own. 5. Healing the Earth is in the common interest of all. We must build communication channels surmounting caste and class barriers to face the crisis. Opportunities in the unsustainable globalised economy are liberating to the rural working class because of the exploitative hierarchical structure of rural society. Improving and securing the lives of the poor must be of utmost priority. 6. Working on land in isolation may turn out to be futile if others in our society continue to exploit common resources. Collective action is needed. 7. It is necessary to organise ourselves to face the large scale threat of predatory policies of the government which can wipe out all the good work in one stroke. 8. The task of ecological restoration must go hand in hand with social movements in rural as well as urban areas against the exploitation of the oppressed. Reciprocally, those involved in social movements for the oppressed must align themselves in the struggle for ecological restoration. 9. All people who are leading a life of high carbon footprint (i.e. high consumption of non-food goods) must simplify their lifestyles so that ecological space exists for the extremely poor to lead better lives. There is much to learn from the poor and adivasis who live more sustainable lives and take better care of natural resources. Dr Sanjeev Kulkarni has offered to host the next Ecologise camp at Dharwad. The dates will be November 14, 15. Another camp is proposed to be held at Sangatya for people of the region. All the proceedings will be in Kannada. The locals who participated in this camp are requested to help in organising the next camp. Suggestions are welcome for organising the next camp. Venkat's article, On a Perspective for Renaissance of Agriculture will be included in the next edition of the Ecologise booklet. Suggestions regarding any further addition or deletion are welcome. The camp was organised at minimum expenditure. The principle was "pay if you can and as much as you can". Many people contributed generously as a result of which we are left with a surplus, which will be used for organising the next Ecologise camp for locals in which participants will not be asked to pay. Thank you very much.
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