Friday the 2nd of January, we went to Solar Kitchen, got on a bus and drove for 15 minutes. I knew we were going to a place called Sadhana Forest, and that the people living there were living a “hippie eco life” as someone expressed it. Judgmental, I know, but that was my knowledge of the place before coming there.
Sadhana Forest was like the way I sort of expected Auroville to be. Auroville has got electricity, Wi-Fi at several hot spots, water running from the taps and other necessities. Sadhana Forest had, besides the communal electricity for lighting the kitchen hut, none of that. They were living their life with a minimal impact on nature around them; eating only organic vegan food, not drinking alcohol, smoking or using other drugs, and dedicating their time there to reforestation. A life in a house made of cement is luxury in Sadhana Forest. The huts were made of bamboo and tied together with coconut ropes.
We were given a tour of the area and they sure had done remarkable things; by developing planting techniques to better fit the area they live in, they have a reforestation success rate of 80-90%. They are aiming to replant the Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest, the indigenous forest destroyed by the inhabitants of this part of India. After the tour, we got to see Cowspiracy, a film about how the cattle industry and its affects on the environment which were portrayed as worse than fossil fuel emissions.
Yes, the movie showed shocking propaganda and the numbers are probably manipulated to scare the audience as much as possible. However, maybe we need to be shocked when it comes to these questions? Isn´t it better to be shocked out from ignorance than fed with the usual “don´t eat meat” or “save our seas”? What if you do not have a understanding of the environmental crisis in any way; you do not live in an area at risk of flooding, you do not live in an area that is drought prone. It sure is easy to live with your head in the cloud, but for you to get your feet back on the ground you need some thunder and lightning, and I believe shock-tactics might not be entirely wrong.
I am therefore very thankful to Sadhana Forest for arranging these tours, where they expose their significant work and show movies within the genre of Cowspiracy. Thank you for the thunder and lightning.
//Anna, Linnaeus University