With ICA, Lakshmi Venugopal brings her diverse international experience in the environment field spanning two decades, from activist to project manager to researcher to facilitator. She believes that the ecological and climate emergency that we face at this moment in history, is an opportunity for human beings, as a species, to transform ourselves into an ecological civilisation that honours the Earth and all living beings (including fellow humans).
She is an experienced facilitator of Deep Ecology and the Work That Reconnects. Her sessions help people rediscover their profound connection to themselves, each other and the Earth. Her research on the concept of eco-civilisation, following the work of Freya Mathews, and her deep inquiry into multispecies learning and coexistence, forms a fertile ground from which the vision for ICA flows.
In her words ”Old civilisations of the world, whose philosophies of engagement with the living Universe were developed far before industrialisation may still hold clues to principles of biomimetic engagement with the universe. These principles, when recovered, could be used to lay the foundational philosophy for an Eco-Civilisation. This requires an inter-civilisational dialogue – to remember and renovate old ideas in new forms that will contribute to a re-awakening of human civilisations through a re-engagement with the living Universe, each through their own unique narratives, yet together in their goal of Eco-Civilisation.”
Have you ever read ‘Deep Adaptation : A map to navigate climate tragedy’ by Professor Jem Bendell ?
When I did, I finally realized that I was not alone in feeling such a loss and grief over what we, humans, have done to Nature, to Earth. I also realized that I was not alone in wondering ‘what do I do about it ?’ without having any answer.
I came to Auroville for the first time in 2017 and discovered Deep Adaptation, Deep Ecology, The Work That Reconnects and a few other things. I discovered people trying to make a difference, to invent new ways of living.
Even though I still do not really know if I can fix anything, or change anything, or even make a difference, I’ll try. Joining the Inner Climate Academy project is a way to not feel as lost and depressed by what is happening around me. A way of working through the grief and sadness and hopefully reconnect with people, with nature, with the Earth
Amy is a yoga and meditation teacher who came to live in Auroville in 2019 seeking a simpler, more ecologically grounded way of living. In the UK, she worked for over a decade in the field of community drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.
She says ‘A large part of the urge to move to Auroville was the drive to live in more unity with the Earth, and find a way of living that is different from the incredibly disconnected lifestyle and mindset that exists in the West. I think that the themes explored by ICA are important at this time of climate and societal crisis – how can we shift our perspective away from where it sits at the moment, prioritising the accumulation of wealth over the degradation of the Earth? How can we learn to cope with what we have lost, and what we will continue to lose in the future? What can we learn from ‘the way women do things’ and can that learning benefit the wider community?’
I’m a writer who was introduced to formal storytelling through the unfortunate yet thriving world of advertising. A few years and several campaigns later, I became disillusioned by the role I was playing in enabling senseless consumerism and ‘escaped’ to Auroville.
Having lived in cities my whole life, waking up to the orchestra of birds every morning assures me of what I didn’t know I was missing. I now spend my days connecting with the more-than-human world; finding different ways to be of service to life around me; revelling in, respecting and grieving for the generous gifts this planet has bestowed upon us; and finding and telling stories along the way. ICA offers my thoughts, emotions and beliefs to find a space and a language, and it helps me make more space in my heart, to hold itself and what’s around it.
Rajeev is a 23-year-old photographer, film-maker and Graphic Designer. Born and raised in Auroville surrounded by nature, he is passionate to create in a meaningful way to illuminate what often gets overlooked in nature and the people embedded in it.
Freya Mathews is an Emeritus Professor of Environmental Philosophy at Latrobe University.
She is the author of several books and over seventy articles in the area of ecological philosophy. Her current special interests are in ecological civilization; indigenous (Australian and Chinese) perspectives on “sustainability” and how these perspectives may be adapted to the context of a contemporary global society; panpsychism and the critique of the metaphysics of modernity; and wildlife ethics in the context of the Anthropocene. In addition to her research activities, she manages a private biodiversity reserve in northern Victoria. She is a fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.
Gijs is currently looking after a program at Regen Foundation (the non profit wing of the Regen Network) that endows indigenous and farming communities with voting rights over the Regen blockchain, a ledger for ecological accounting. Regen aims to realign the human economy with the more-than-human world, using market mechanisms such as incentives, exchanges and standards.
Gijs is a Dutch organic agriculture engineer by training, a fairtrade supply chain weaver by experience and a social entrepreneurship coach by default. He lives in a forest in South India and is a member of the Auroville intentional community. When not dreaming about overland travel between Europe and Asia (ambitiously called the Green Silk Road) he is building tree houses with his kids.
Shrishtee Bajpai is an explorer, researcher, and chronicler of stories narrating alternative worldviews, challenging the status quo and whispering the sounds of resistance-reconstruction and hope.
She helps in coordinating the Vikalp Sangam process in India that intends to weave systemic alternatives and networks for collaborations, cross-learning, and co-envisioning the futures.
She is a core team member of Global Tapestry of Alternatives, a process that is documenting radical alternative networks across the world and weaving strategic alliances among them.
She is one of the founding members of the Rights of Rivers South Asia Alliance and is on the executive committee of the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. She loves birding, walking, writing, reading, and discovering music.
Danielle Celermajer is a Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, Deputy Director of the Sydney Environment Institute and lead of the Multispecies Justice project. Integral to her academic work is the intentional multispecies community in which she lives. Her publications include Sins of the Nation and the Ritual of Apology (Cambridge University Press 2009) and The Prevention of Torture: An Ecological Approach (Cambridge University Press, 2018) The Cultural History of Law in the Modern Age (Bloomsbury 2019), The Subject of Human Rights (Stanford 2020), and “Justice Through a Multispecies Lens.”
Through the experience of living through the black summer bushfires with a multispecies community, she began writing about a new crime of our age, Omnicide. Her latest book, Summertime (Penguin Random House, 2021) was written in recognition of the critical urgency of conveying the complex conceptual recognition of the multispecies harms of the climate catastrophe in ways that can provoke affect and hence action.
Wahinkpe Topa (Four Arrows), aka Don Trent Jacobs, Ph.D., Ed.D., is a professor in the School of Leadership Studies at Fielding Graduate University. Formerly Director of Education at Oglala Lakota College. Of Irish and Tsalagi ancestry, he is a made-relative of the Oglala, a Sun Dancer, and a member of the Medicine Horse Tiospaye. His 26 books and numerous publications have been endorsed by such notable thinkers as Vandana Shiva, Daniel Wildcat, Sam Keen, Thom Hartman, Noam Chomsky, Chet Bowers, Margaret Wheatly, John Pilger, the Cousteau Society and many others. (Google “Indigenous Worldview Four Arrows” for more information or visit fourarrowsbooks.com). He is a recipient of a Martin Springer Institute Moral Courage Award and was selected by AERO as one of 27 visionaries in education. The Chicago Wisdom Project selected his book, Teaching Truly: A Curriculum to Indigenize Mainstream Education, as one of 20 books that represent its educational philosophy.
Shradha is a programme associate for Mama Cash, an international funding organization based in Netherlands.
She was a programme officer for climate justice outreach at Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, Thailand.
She has filled the capacity of observer and delegation head for the Women & Gender constituency at COP, United Nations FCCC, in Bonn, Germany and Katowice, Poland.
She was also the project grant fellow of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation-Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany.
Shradha has conceptualized a short film “Women Rising”- portraying women and girls in the forefront of climate justice struggles in Kerala, India.
She was an author in publications such as Harald Fuhr- Festschrift (University of Potsdam), Climate Mitigation Forum (Rosa Luxemburg Foundation), Strategic Review (The Indonesian Journal of Leadership, Policy and World Affairs), Feminism in India, etc.
She is a founding campaigner for Sustainable Menstruation Kerala Collective, and board member for the youth volunteer network, the Red Cycle.
Shradha is the Asian regional advisor for FRIDA fund and an ambassador for EcoFemme in Auroville, India.
She is a graduate in Life Sciences from Kerala University and Pondicherry University, and is presently based in Kerala, India.
I am a restoration-rewilding ecologist based in the Nilgiri Highlands in India. For close to 10 years, I have been studying this incredible landscape and have also started one of the first grassland nurseries in Southern India. I grow nearly 100 native species of grasses, shrubs, herbs and trees to work on holistic regeneration ecosystems. Using various approaches and by working along with several stakeholders in this landscape, through my setup Upstream Ecology. I work towards improving the ecological security of the Nilgiri Biosphere Region (nearly 5000 sq km).
Throughout these 10 years, I have also been conducting interdisciplinary research of this mountainous landscape, born of life-long awe and fascination of the incredible complexity and history of this landscape. I came out with a book titled Voice of a Sentient Highland where I look at the colossal story of this region.
One of the focuses of the book is in presenting my findings about intelligence and signs of sentience in these mountains – at the geological level, and how this evidence here can help science globally accept that lands indeed to possess intelligence.
I feel that much of the world’s crisis is rooted in the way lands are treated and extracted from, and I am hoping this understanding can help in a significant way to change this dominant global perspective, upside-down.
I have also started a new start-up called Iyaraka, where I am working on plant-baed solutions. This regenerative enterprise is for creating holistic economically viable solutions for deteriorating agricultural and plantations sectors, with falling income rates, while restoring ecology.
Other than this I am also a singer and have recently launched my first song ‘Wanna Hear You Sing’, which is about wanting to hear the lost song of an old forest that once stood, and a call for change.
” Our interdependence with all life on Earth has profound implications for our attitudes and actions.
We under-estimate ourselves, when we identify self with narrow competitive ego.
With sufficient all-sided maturity, we not only move on from ego to a social self and a metaphysical self, but an ecological self as well.
Through widening circles of identification, we vastly extend the boundaries of our self-interest, and enhance our joy and meaning in life”
– Joanna Macy and Molly Brown, Coming To Back To Life, 1998
Inner Climate Academy (ICA)
ICA is a project of Social Entrepreneurship Association, a unit of the Auroville Foundation.