THE CROAK is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial.

Sketching our heritage

Artist: Sagar Nanivadekar

For the past two years eCoexist has been associated with and supporting the Vinoba Bhave Janmasthan Pratisthan at Gagode village, Raigad district. This is the birthplace of Acharya Vinoba Bhave , who came to be known as the spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi. While we learn a lot about Gandhiji, our education system has done an injustice to Vinoba and present day Indians barely know about his work and life. 

In our work at eCoexist, we have been exploring the concept of Sustainability for the past 15 years since our establishment in 2006. Our work has mainly been centered around ecofriendly materials and products. We are now going deeper into what it takes to create sustainable communities especially in the Indian context. 

It is with this in mind, that we began work on the project - Sarvodaya and Sustainability, to understand better the principles of Sarvodaya as laid down by Gandhi and Vinoba and how they can be relevant to the future of our country. 

Artist: Sanjeev Joshi

Vinoba Bhave Janmasthan Pratisthan

With help from the Trusteeship Foundation in Mumbai, the eCoexist team has already done various projects with the VBJP team, which include:

1. Creating a new website for the VBJP - this is now also being translated into Marathi

2. Taking several groups of people to visit the ashram and offer shram daan ( physical service ) for various agricultural activities

3. Conducted a seminar entitled Sarvodaya and Sustainability on 15 Aug 2021 - watch here 

4. Assisted with marketing agro produce, like turmeric and rice, from the ashram to the citizens of Pune and Mumbai 

5. Started to develop new cow dung products for the ashram community 

6. Started a study group that reads the books by Vinoba in Marathi on the Clubhouse app. 

7. Invited the architectural group Local Ground , Pune led by Khushru Irani to do a measured drawing documentation of the heritage site. 

By Unknown author -, Public Domain,

Artist: Ashwin Chikerur

Visit the new website here
Urban Sketchers, Pune

Artist: Manish Pimpley

On Saturday 25 Dec, 2021 we invited seven artists from the group Urban Sketchers Pune to visit the Janmasthan with us and to sketch this important national heritage site. Urban sketchers Pune is the local chapter of global Urban sketchers. They sketch their surroundings on location through direct observation.
They were hosted by the Janmasthan team, and introduced to to Vinobas legacy. After a simple introduction, the artists spent a few hours sketching the ashram and its environs. We had a meal cooked for us by the ashram residents with foods grown at the ashram itself. We also had occassion to meet a few other Sarvodaya guests - Angraj a musican played the Bansuri ( bamboo flute) while the sketching was in progress and Varad, a young Sarvodayee had come from Uran to sketch alongside the artists. 
The day ended with a demonstration on Khadi spinning by the residents of the ashram. 
The stunning artwork created by the artists will be gifted to the ashram and used to further spread the message of Vinoba. 
To see and know more about the Urban Sketchers visit their Instagram page here 

Photos: Gayatri Juvekar Sketch: Shruti Utgikar

An invitation from eCoexist

Artist: Farah Irani

While not all of us can leave our city lives to go and live in a place like the Janmasthan, we have a tremendous amount to learn from such communities. In the context of Sustainability, a visit to the ashram can show us an alternate approach to lifestyle and easy ways to simplify our lives. 

Whilst living in the city, we can choose to offer our time and labour to their mission, and in the process learn more and more about what it means to live by the principles of Sarvodaya. Even a day at the ashram, can give you a taste of the stillness of mind that comes from working close to the earth. 

Farah Irani had this to say about her experience ...

"When visiting the ashram I sketched the kitchen. It represented a great sense of community where the ashram inmates came together and shared all responsibilities to prepare meals for all there. The ingredients of the freshly cooked food was grown on their own farms. The stove was fired by gobar gas. The cowdung got from their cows was used to prepare cowdung slurry for the gobar gas. This was sent into the kitchen to the stove through the red pipe seen in my sketch.  The weighing scale as well a coconut scraper seemed like they were of a bygone era but their functionality was still unmatched. The open shelves and simple arrangements of the utensils encouraged inclusiveness, as one shared tasks. This kitchen was a place for Simple living and High thinking."

eCoexist invites you to join the team of volunteers who are working on the Sarvodaya and Sustainability project. You can do this in many ways, even from wherever you are located. Do feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] 

Artist: Harshad Arole

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The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
If you would like to contribute articles on ecology consciousness and sustainability please get in touch with us.

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