Letter from Shreekumar of Sangatya Commune, who hosted the first Ecologise! workshop


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, wasmeant for getting acquainted with one another. After a welcome byShreekumar on behalf of Sangatya, the participants, who came from avariety of backgrounds and from various parts of India, introducedthemselves in detail. The schedule of events for the next two dayswas outlined: field work in the morning, a session fordiscussion 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, diggingtrenches, pruning gliricidia trees and mulching. The physical workwas accompanied by sharing of knowledge. Usha's presence was ofimmense value.Saturday's discussion session began with an introduction by Vijayendraand the screening of Village of the Watermills from Akira Kurosawa'sfilm, Dreams. Sunday's discussion was based on a paper by Venkat,On a Perspective for Renaissance of Agriculture. At the end, theparticipants made resolutions regarding their efforts to ecologisetheir lifestyles.Listed below are the important things articulated during thediscussions (feel free to suggest additions, modifications ordeletions):1. The Earth is sick. Healing it is of great urgency. It isnecessary to bring more people to the task of healing.2. Supporting the prevailing capitalist system, directly orindirectly, will make the planet more sick. Therefore more and morepeople must be involved in building a sustainable, local economy.3. In order to participate in healing the Earth, people must connectwith the land. The peasantry must be nurtured rather than exploited.4. Planning of land use must be done at the level of watershed insteadof individual land holdings. People must have usufruct rights for landrather than ownership, i.e. right to use, not to own.5. Healing the Earth is in the common interest of all. We must buildcommunication channels surmounting caste and class barriers to facethe crisis. Opportunities in the unsustainable globalised economy areliberating to the rural working class because of the exploitativehierarchical structure of rural society. Improving and securing thelives of the poor must be of utmost priority.6. Working on land in isolation may turn out to be futile if others inour society continue to exploit common resources. Collective actionis needed.7. It is necessary to organise ourselves to face the large scalethreat of predatory policies of the government which can wipe out allthe good work in one stroke.8. The task of ecological restoration must go hand in hand with socialmovements in rural as well as urban areas against the exploitation ofthe oppressed. Reciprocally, those involved in social movements forthe oppressed must align themselves in the struggle for ecologicalrestoration.9. All people who are leading a life of high carbon footprint(i.e. high consumption of non-food goods) must simplify theirlifestyles so that ecological space exists for the extremely poor tolead better lives. There is much to learn from the poor and adivasiswho live more sustainable lives and take better care of naturalresources.Dr Sanjeev Kulkarni has offered to host the next Ecologise camp atDharwad. The dates will be November 14, 15. Another camp is proposedto be held at Sangatya for people of the region. All the proceedingswill be in Kannada. The locals who participated in this camp arerequested to help in organising the next camp.Suggestions are welcome for organising the next camp. Venkat'sarticle, On a Perspective for Renaissance of Agriculture will beincluded in the next edition of the Ecologise booklet. Suggestionsregarding any further addition or deletion are welcome.The camp was organised at minimum expenditure. The principle was "payif you can and as much as you can". Many people contributedgenerously as a result of which we are left with a surplus, which will be used for organising the next Ecologise camp forlocals in which participants will not be asked to pay. Thank you very much.