We ushered in the New Year with a visit with friends to the Tibetan Pavilion for the Candlelight Meditation. The grounding sounds of traditional Tibetan music, 1000 candles flickering in the night and a rising full moon made for a powerful ending and welcoming of new beginnings. Since then, we have been treated to a feast of Aurovillian culture, including the jazz/fusion performance we went to see last night – a collaboration of electric violin, bass, image projection, rap and turntables. Yes, we have also been doing project work!!!
There are many conversations going on about the aims of the Coastal Environmental Education Centre at Kadapakkam, with opportunities arising to complete social and environmental impacts assessments of the surrounding marine and estuarine ecosystems… with a view to engage fisher people in social enterprise and sustainable harvesting projects. We are heading towards a visioning session for the Centre so that we are clear on its objectives and inadvertently trying to take on too much. With so many diverse target audiences and ecosystems literally ‘at the front door,’ the possibilities for programs at this Centre is huge.
Noel has been scoping out projects for 2010 with Pavati, the Women’s Self Help Group Co-ordinator. Much has happened since our CERES group worked with the women of Nadukuppam in 2007 to conduct a survey on the daily life of village women. There are now nearly 40 Women’s Self Help Groups in and around the area, with many women learning skills in traditional healing with ethno medicinal plants, tailoring and spirulina production. This year will see the creation of a Federation of Self Help Groups which will aim to support these small collectives. New spirulina projects are planned for 5 more villages. Pitchandikulam are keen to have us meet with women’s groups to take stock of what has happened and to again document how their lives have changed.
Tonight we head south to Madurai to meet with Muthu and explore the world of ethno medicinal plants and social enterprises. As our time at Pitchandikulam comes to an end, it is fabulous to think of how many synergies there are between our two organisations and how much we have to learn from one another. Noel and I gave a CERES presentation to about 100 people at the Sadana Forest community a few nights ago – the audience consisted of some Aurovilians and many young people from all over the world who are volunteering in the community. This experience really put me back in touch with how inspiring CERES is and how much we have to offer other communities who want to be on the same journey. What a precious project we have in East Brunswick!