Auroville has developed, through the experience of developing itself, a wide variety of environmentally friendly techniques. The need for these was obvious to the Aurovilians, but it became clear that it was not so obvious to others and that education in the whys and wherefores of environmental practices was needed. There are two major audiences to be addressed, the general public, and the villagers around Auroville.
Outreach to the general public
The most recent is the website you are reading right now, an attempt by a fresh team of "sustainability nuts" to get all the information scattered in the minds of Aurovilians gathered in one place. Convergence is a residential hands-on course in Deep Ecology. At Sadhana Forest people learn wasteland reclamation and much more in 3-year training. Upasana Design Studio turned the challenge of tsunami into the challenge to use their design skills to redesign the world, social project by social project. Upasana, like most of these Auroville projects, takes in interns to join their team, and this is a major educational experience. Besides carrying out massive environmental restoration projects which at the same time educate, Pitchandikulam Forest has published many books and delivered more ideas through consultancy. The award winning designs of Auroville Earth Institute are backed up by regular courses for architects and masons in earth as a building material. Also winning big awards is
Outreach to the Villagers
In the immediate area of Auroville there are 19 villages and hamlets with a total population of about 20,000 – these people used to be illiterate subsistence farmers, but after 42 years of Auroville training are now nationally sought-after masons, carpenters, hand-crafters, accountants, -- a full repertoire of modern vocations. Villagers had been alienated from their wholesome rural traditions by cash cropping and chemical and technological approaches – with the resulting desertification and erosion, not only of the soil but of the village people as well who were seeking better lives in the cities. Auroville has provided many urban amenities to the rural villages around it: jobs and a higher standard of living, training and opportunities for advancement, education for children, exposure to global culture.
The Nadakuppam Project is a community environmental education project centred in a village school, which has not only educated the children but the village development council as well. Auroville Botanical Gardens has made its nursery garden into a children's educational site with well-articulated curriculum. They work together with Sadhana Forest to develop experiences in nature for children which will make them aware of a purpose in life to serve Mother Earth. Auroville Health Services have developed a curriculum and educational programme which addresses the cooks at Auroville's public eateries with interesting and helpful information about the whys of hygienic practices. Changes in the lives of women makes big changes in the lives of a village, and at Martuvam as well as Village Action, village women are educated in a broad sustainable basis for improving their own health, the health of their families, and their villages. Village Action touches directly some 3000 individuals through a network of Self-Help Groups for both women and men. Well Paper involves village women in making saleable products out of waste paper and at the same time developing their independence and entrepreneurial skills. Award winning Palmyra through its network of Water Users Associations has helped village farmers understand how to conserve and renew their water resources as well as revive organic farming techniques. Water Harvest also seeks to educate villagers in the area on how to make best use of the high annual rainfail of the area. Each of these groups (and there are others as well) display the Auroville trade-mark, genuine dedication to what they are doing: saving the earth through the people (themselves included).