Category Archives: Sustainable Living

Integral Community Building with Food in Jaipur

One fine day I got a call from Gurpreet, who has founded ‘Uday’, a Waldorf inspired school in Jaipur, asking me if I can help her arrange a healthier meal for the participants of the  ‘Art of Parenting’ workshop organized by them.

She reminded of the food that we had cooked at the Jaipur Learning City Conference and was hoping that they can get some thing like that for their event.

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Steamed Veggies with coconut paste

I was glad to hear it and see that there are people in the city who value food which I also consider more in tune for our bodies and was willing to support her. I called up some friends and they were not able to offer this meal as it was a short notice, just one day before the event.

At that time there was Yash, staying at our newly created space, Ahimsagram – a space for learning and living sustainably while also working on peace building and consent based organisation  systems . He is from Swaraj Unviersity and is here with me to do his mentorship around healthy food with me. I asked him if he was keen and if we both can take up this cooking for about 20 people. He said yes and I agreed to us providing food to the workshop.

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Yash from Swaraj, Operations Leader for Kitchen at Ahimsagram

We also had Hema from Bangalore with us and the three of us prepared a meal, took it to the school on a cab, served the food, had a chat with the participants of the workshop and attended the session.

The workshop was facilitated by Mani Sir, who has inspired lot of people all over the country into taking up Waldorf teaching.

He was also talking on the impact of food on children and how food needs to be simple and with less chemicals and stimulants. I was glad to see that we had a common ground.

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Hema Making  Mangalorian Polikoddal

It felt like being a community with a shared dream where we are there to support each other and create integral growth for the community. I am enjoying the growing community bonds in the Jaipur which are making us create a sustainable and resilient eco system. Gurpreet is also the Operations Leader for the Learning Unlearning group under the Jaipur Mera Shehar Network and we are creating an organisation/community of those who want to look at alternate forms of learning. You can contact her if you want o join the group or know about Uday at udaywaldorf@gmail.com

We made –

  • Avial inspired mix veg – Steamed Veggies with Coconut Paste and some spices.
  • Salad with roasted Peanut powder
  • Rice and Jowar Rotis
  • Pulikoddal- A Mangolarian dish made by Hema was a dal with torai and coconut in it.
  • Cold fruit dessert or diary and sugar & dairy free fruit ice cream, with dates, cashew and Mango.

The food was much appreciated and it was amazing team work between me, Yash and Hema to pull through this big meal and take it out there.

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Jowar roti made on Tawa – a gift from Lyla and Vijay ji

The Jowar Roti was made on a thick tawa offered as gift from my friend Lyla’s Father Vijay ji. He has a factory and got us a thick tawa of cast iron made especially for Ahimsagram. I am loving it how there are so many people in the city who come together to create  a space. It is the magic of this Tawa which allows the thick miller rotis and dosas to get cooked well without getting burnt.

I was inspired to see so many people there wanting to know more about such food or wanting such food at the doorsteps. I would want to put my energy into sharing about food with the larger community. I am also hoping that the Food and Farm Group in the Jaipur Mera Shehar network can take it up.

If you want to join a group of people who are keen on looking at food in life serving ways then connect with the Jaipur Food and Farm Group.

Appreciate Gurpreet’s commitment to taking care of her guest in giving them the best that she could reach out for in Jaipur.

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Shammi & Yash talking to the workshop participants about their Food Journeys…

Since then I have been getting calls from some of the people from the workshop for recipes and request for sharing more on the food. Look forward to more collaborative emerging in the city over our food needs so we can one day call it a ‘Safe Food City’.

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Filed under Community Building, Conscious Kitchen, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Sociocracy, ‘Connection Parenting’, Music and More at Noida UnConference!

At the recent Learning Unconference at Noida on 19th September, 2015, I was reminded of my childhood days when we would get together in Rajouri Garden in Delhi or Saharanpur for my cousin’s wedding and have non stop singing and fun action for t12042668_1015504675166684_4498789894362938921_nhree days. The only difference here was that there were people who were also coming with dreams of a creating a sustainable and just world and are also acting in small and big ways to make it happen in their lives. I am connected to different eco-systems and communities wanting to make a beautiful world and one of them is the LSUC or Learning Societies UnConference Network and  an event like this is like coming back to my home and family.

It was fun to meet old friends and make new connections with people who are doing stuff which some where resonates with my vision of the world that I would like to live in. Met Dipali who hosts sessions on slow travel, Himanshu who is working on slow cooking incorporating millets, Arubha Sonal, Ravleen and many other home/un schoolers of Delhi, Pooja who makes alternate toys inspired by games of rural and tribal communities in India and there were 300 such people there for a day. I am glad to see lot of11991296_10153551152575569_1936405691_o alternate stuff in Delhi which I would more often see in other cities but have seen much less in Delhi until now.

Being there, I am reminded once again of Margret Wheatley’s line which says that for change to happen we need more of critical connections rather than the critical mass and I believe create a ground for creating such connections the critical mass will also follow. I  have two main needs in life, one is of finding meaning in what I engage with and the second is community and in places like this both of these needs of mine are met.

I enjoyed sharing Sociocracy where we practiced/simulated consent decision making process for a seemingly simple decision of planning a the dinner menu for group of about ten people who were also part of the Sociocracy session there. As we began collecting concerns for the meal issue. Even before coming out with the menu we realised that this simple decision, if it has to have the values and needs of all incorporated in it can be pretty nuanced and needs an evolved process to come to a decision with consent. Some wanted vegan options, some wanted spicy food, some wanted more steamed, some wanted chicken, delicious, aesthetically pleasing, etc….

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After going through the listening rounds where each one was heard, we decided to come up with a smaller team and trusted them with the organizing of the meal. One of them was a organic and vegan enthusiasts, one was a person who cares for inclusion and one of them was the only non veg eater in the group. Even though it was a simulated exercise we got a sense of how complex decision can be taken efficiently in the groups and the amazing tools that Sociocracy offers to do so. We all consented to the decision in our simulated practice. I am also sharing Aditi’s Blog where she wrote about hear learning of Sociocracy in the above mentioned session.

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In another session I also was supporting Sanjeevani who was hosting a session on ‘Connection Parenting’. It was a treat to meet the growing home/unschooling community of Delhi NCR who have a sense of shared reality and deep bonding with each other. Thanks to Suma Iyer who initiated a meeting the day after the Unconference where all of us met for a whole day at Shaifali and Osama’s place along with our dear friend Urmila from Pune. Our meeting turned into a listening circle, which began with a guided yog nidra mediation guided by Urmila which took us to a deeper place. That set the tone which connected to our hearts and our words began to flow from deep authenticity and our listening also became more and more open and non judgmental. We were holding space for each other where we could share our deeper challenges and vulnerabilities which began to transform at times once we could share them and be heard for them. I am glad unconference made space for this listening circle and thats how magic unfolds from one place to the other.

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I guess such gatherings like the listening circle and the Unconference have a magic of their own and once the people are brought there and container created for deeper connection nothing needs to be ‘done’ and things just emerge all along. The unknown creates its own order and beauty. I am grateful to Manish Jain who is founder of Shikshatar Andolan and Prakriti Folks for initiating the unconference and Suma for initiating our meeting the next day which turned into a listening Circle.

Most importantly I want to thank Manish Kataria who held the space for music and circle dances which spurred the whole community to get into a party mood. I guess when change has to come it also has to be a celebration.

To see more pics from the Uncoference see https://goo.gl/6Pim8L

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Filed under Community Building, Parenting, Sociocracy, Sustainable Living

Welcome to Ecovillage Design Eduaction (EDE) Course in Azores, Portugal!

Dear friends, I have been part of the planning and hosting team of this four week long EDE which is scheduled from 15th August, 2015 in Azores Islands in Portugal. We have been working pretty intensely for the last six months to make this magical event happen. Of course some of us have been more active and some are around creating support and holding each other.

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I Plan to share NVC, Conflict Transformation, Gift Culture and Creative and Mindful Enterprises, amongst other things. We are also planning to offer largely raw food there and some friends there are already growing food to prepare for those of you who will join us. I see all this detail and care from the team as an offering of pure love.

I cant say I will be there for sure as I am still struggling to get my visa for Europe and I imagine some times that the people who are in power seem to living with a sense of fear. Having chosen to live a life without ‘sufficient’ money has its costs and comes in the way of my moving freely in this world. I am accepting the cost for the moment as so many of us at times are not able to do what we want to and there could be some learning for me in it, even though its a painful experience. I am saying all this to let you know that I am not sure that I will make it there. However whether I make it there or not I want to tell my friends in India and Abroad, that I have worked with this team very closely and have experienced deep authenticity and integrity in them apart from their skills and knowledge to empower you to confidently embark on a journey of creating you own dream eco village.

I am celebrating that EDE and this particular course also values inputs on conflict transformation process, consent decision making and Nonviolent Communication(NVC) which are dear to me too. I believe that when we create a community we need to even have systems in place to create a ‘power with’ systems of communicating and organising ourselves. If we believe that the divine is everywhere and in all then we need to have systems where we can deeply listen, value and harvest the wisdom from each person in the community. This makes this EDE even more exciting and inspiring for me.

Besides we are also trying to support those who find it challenging to organise finances to be there. Infact we are hoping and trying support some people for their travel. We are trusting that there will be abundance to support all of you who want to be there.

You can see the details of the course in the www.edeazores.org and the invite below. Wishing joy, abundance and blessings to the hosting team and those who will be there.

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Filed under Community Building, Conflict Transformation, Conscious Kitchen, Gift Culture, Natural Farming, Nonviolent Communication(NVC)

Allow the System to demonstrate its own evolution – Bill Mollison

Allow the System to demonstrate its own evolution – I am inspired by this line from Bill Mollison who was the founder of Permacutlrue. Its like the ‘do nothing’ of Fukuokas. To listen to the signs of imbalance, the pain and the anger, the discomforts and conflicts, the judgments, objections and imbalances and all the wisdome that is wanting to emerge…..which is wanting us to go to a new and maybe higher stage of equlibrium or homeostasis.
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More I learn about NVC and conflict resolution systems more I am convinced about emergence and allowing the unkown to happen. To create containers for the challenges to come out and to sit with them and listen to thier language with compassion and wisdom.

During this workshop too we had some live challlenges amongst us where we allowed whatever wanted to be heard to surface and hold it with care and it brought us closer at times.. even though more needs to be done still…In the end of this I am reminded of what Dominic Barter says – “the closer I am to conflict the safer I am”.
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Have been at Panya in Thailand where young people from all over the world with dreams in their eyes are here to learn from each other. I am feeling more and more we all need to heal ourselves from the generations of pain and violence that is some where hidden in us which is making us do as a civilisation what we are doing to our selves and each other…Some of us are looking for new pathways to do so, looking for new language and tools to redesign our inner and outer world consciously step by step.

Its nice to see such spaces where we can come and learn to design systems of sustainable living, both about our inner and outer ecologies…am inspired to see how so many of us working to nourish our dreams all over the world…there are infinite stories of inspiration from my time ehre which i will share later but right now thought of sharing the joy of this experience with some pics….
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Panya is a permaculture learning center where people come to learn Permaculture Design Courses(PDC), Natural Building and many other stuff… see more about them atpanyaproject.org

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“Hurt people hurt people, Healed people heal people”

I remember my friend Samara saying this line in a workshop in Findhorn at the New Story Summit. She is working with black communities in US and has a group called Truthworker. They are using arts to resist domination paradigms and create transformations in our world.

This line came alive for me last year when I was working with the NVC Convention prep team in India. There were moments when there were things which were important for me when we were taking some decisions about the convention. When there was some disagreement, I imagined or feared that I will not be heard. I have had such feelings in the past when I have worked with some other groups too. I kind of relived that experience of the same fear i might have experienced in school or in my family which made the situation more intense. There was the issue and the story that I was telling about the issue and the major space was taken by the fear or imagining that I will not be heard.

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Unconsciously my fear turned into anger and my expression was seen as lashing out by some people in the team. It makes full sense why they would felt that I was ‘lashing out’, as my response had a strong energy. However I realised that even though I spoke with anger but there were people in the group to hold me in those times, they tried to listen to my concerns which helped them become visible to others. Once I realised that my voice was being heard and I mattered, it made me slow down and even created spaciousness in me which allowed me to listen to others too and to try to understand their world too. Its nice to have some people to hold space in a group in a time of conflict who can hear different expressions without getting triggered. This role can be played by different people at different times.

As group, we all did a lot of hard work and came to understanding what was important for all of us. I have not seen such strong disconnects transform into some kind of common understandings so fast and with such little pain.

In the process I see that some of my stories that I was carrying from my past dropped as we engaged together in a compassionate ways. The one was the fear that I will not be heard, or I dont matter.

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I am glad we had conversations about decision making and what is our policy on making decisions in the time of crisis. We were very transparent in our decision making. Besides we were also acting out of NVC space where we were trying to see where the other person comes from. We also used Sociocratic process in proposal forming and getting consent on them and not to move with a  decision till every one is heard. We made the space for hearing objections and the reason’s behind them, once the reasons were heard they were incorporated to change the proposals to make the proposals acceptable to all. The final proposal at times was not the perfect solution from everyone’s perspectives but it was some thing that we all could live by for a certain time frame.

As a result of this one year of working with the NVC convention I sense that I am beginning to heal myself of some of my stories and as a result feeling lighter inside. I would definitely want to be more aware of it and would want self connection next time some thing similar happens. Try to see what is it that I really want, look at if its really in danger or my story is playing some game with me, look around and see that this situation is different from my past situation which created pain. As Marshall says to see every incident as a new born child. If I see a story also try to see the beautiful need behind it and enjoy that need.

Thats one of the story  I was carrying with me, I wish to understand some other stories that I am carrying on my shoulders. 

That will be possible if I can see the world of the people whose actions had caused me hurt in the past, I know thats also hard work but thats where I also believe where the light is.

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Filed under Community Building, Mediation, Nonviolent Communication(NVC), Sociocracy, Sustainable Living

Turning Urine into Manure With Ease!

How to harvest Urine and make manure without much trouble.

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I was impressed to see a simple way of doing this at Embercombe, in Devon, UK. They just put a bale of wheat straw and made a pee place where one is supposed to pee on it. After some days the bale is taken and opened up and the straw is placed on the compost pit. I liked the ingenuity and simplicity of this design.

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The Circles and other stuff at Embercombe!

Every morning, after the breakfast,  the Embercombe community gets together near the Dining Yurt for a connecting circle. Some one makes a fire and people huddle close to each other as people are sitting in their thick jackets and caps to keep themselves warm. There is a silence as vapours come out of the mouth when people breathe a, some people are quietly watching the fire as we hear the crackling sounds of the fire and  see smoke coming out to add to the mist. As we sit in silence for some time and I notice my breathing slows down, one person begins to speak whats alive in them and there starts the circle of check in. Everyone has the space to speak and when the circle is over then people begin to talk about the jobs for the day and move on with their respective engagements. I enjoyed this slow getting into the day with the spaciousness to connect to ourselves.

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The kitchen as active each day with Yara making breads and others making lunch with Alexendra.  

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They make their own breads of all kind, spelt, wheat, etc. Yara also made an amazing Lasagne with Pumpkin slices instead of refined four. They make sure their is options for the vegans also. Alexandra who is the incharge of the kitchen makes space for volunteers to do their own experimentation. The kitchen also has a great sense of co-responsibility where people just come to help each other.

Mick, Roman and others are making mud building and more construction is going on.

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Some are working on the permaculture garden, some are repairing a tractor, Fiona is taking care of the Ponies or being with the kids. Every day there are visitors from some place or the other.

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Narmia is hosting a basket making workshop for the last few days, She is now planning to go to Scotland to learn how to make coffins with willow, which was a traditional practice in some parts.

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They have friends weekends where people come from other cities for a day to get a break from their city life and to connect with the land.

They also have a CSA basket and Dan, who is on the food growing team is passionate about his work.  There are many people who make this community happen and I am glad that there is a space where people in the region can come and connect with land and simple living. 

Once a week home schoolers come to spend the time there and connect with the community. I also shared  two days of NVC with them and made  some deep connections.I also shared Restorative Circles there for three days and we set up a Restorative System there. I enjoyed the communities desire to look at interpersonal relationships and their desire to work with decision making processes there. I am grateful to be having the opportunity to connect with the Embercombe Community in Devon, UK. I am hoping to visit them again some time…

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Filed under Community Building, Conscious Kitchen, Natural Farming, Nonviolent Communication(NVC), Restorative Circles, Sustainable Living