Feb 24th, 2015:
Last Friday was a turning point for the GRIN team. A breakthrough that I think we have still not completely realized. The day started off at 4 am for me.
One of the advantages of having your mom as your boss is that your meetings can take place anywhere, anytime. So, we slaved over the laptops for the next hour, collecting data, numbers, pictures to talk about Nature Deficit Disorder. NDD is a term coined based on the fact that lack of nature connection, is causing a whole plethora of physical, mental, psychological, even social problems. Think about it, if we were all connected to nature and therefore ourselves, is there one problem that we face now that can’t be solved?
I was preparing to make a presentation to Poorna Learning Centre later that day. The call of the crickets caught my attention and I looked out of the window and felt this strong urge to be outside breathing in the fresh air. It struck us hard then. Amma and I were sitting at the computer, at this beautiful time of the day to make a presentation. Which I was then going to show to the teachers on my computer screen all about how too much time is now being spent on electronics. So we shut it down. I decided instead to take some leaves and blindfolds and wing it 🙂
Before we get to what happened there though, we have to finish the rest of the day. The team and I were preparing to conduct a Green Connect program at I-AIM’s gardens. We expected about 50 children and 7-8 teachers to come. The plan was to get them out, talking to plants and to make them use all their senses in doing that. How this project came to us is another interesting story.
Almost a month back, we had been having discussions at the office on how we are impacting in small ways, but that we needed to scale up the movement. It was more and more apparent that, at least in the Green Connect avatar, our target should be to reach as many children as we could. We were turning our attention to schools and trying to figure out ways to make them interested in the idea of having Green Connect as part of their core syllabus.
Mulling over this on the road one day, I almost missed my phone buzzing. Picking it up, I had to strain to hear what someone was saying on the other side. Spying a quiet corner on a basement level of a shop I went in. It was Lora, a teacher at Legacy School Bangalore who taught science to 2nd graders. She had just seen an event we did earlier online and was curious to see if we could take her kids out for one. It felt like nature was saying, “Oh! Are you ready to do work? Here’s some for you.”
It was wonderful to talk to her. Very often, I can get carried away with my enthusiasm for plants and forget to ease other people into it. She was with me on every step though. Open-minded people are treasures, don’t you think?. From that call to the last one saying the bus was almost there, it felt like this session was meant to happen; if obstacles came, they went away. We surrendered to the force of the plants working through us
At 9:30 we were all set and waiting at I-AIM. A bunch of happy folks ready to have some fun and learn alongside the kids. Till 3pm that day, we have played, without stop or even a moment’s lapse of energy. How wondrous it was to see the children unrestrained. The next day, when we all sat to recount stories about the children in each group – we wanted to collate all our learning- we started and couldn’t stop! For 2 and a half hours, we just chatted about all the beautiful ways that the kids had either come out of their shells or played with complete abandon from the get go. If I were to start writing about it, I wouldn’t be able to get to other work today. But see some pictures here from the session.
After we had done that, Ganesh and I gathered some prayers, good thoughts, a quick lunch and some aromatic leaves before we rode to Poorna to present our case. We were so tired from the morning that there was no energy left to be worried or tense. But, then why should we be, nature will take care. And how she did! Not only did we have enough time settle down and bring back some of the energy when we got there, but also the educators we met with were kindred spirits. We all enjoyed the scent game we played, then a few Nellikais and got to talking about what we could do together. We are on track now to bringing nature classrooms to Bangalore. Goosebumps as I type it out.
If our children’s future is in the hands of teachers like these, I think we are going to go into good times. I have a request, reader. If you know educators, or management in schools who would be interested in bringing their children closer to plants and nature in many interesting ways, do you think you could put them in touch with us?
My email ID is firstname.lastname@example.org, or if they would like to call, please ask them to contact me at 8861115565. We can heal the world, one child at a time.
Towards Healthy and Happy Futures