Certain decisions in life are so instinctive that they seemingly lack any linear logic or justification. Joining the Science and Management for Sustainable Living course offered by Bhoomi College was one such instinctive or should I say intuitive decision that I made in the nick of time. Quite often our deeper knowing pushes us to where we need to head exactly at the time we need to be there! I can now say that this has been a decision that has enriched me in my journey of life.
The very first evening I landed in the campus, I felt good and right about coming here. The earthy campus, simple accommodation and classmates from across diverse field of work, ages and geography – I knew I belonged here in the present phase of my life. As we settled down, we eased into the ‘Bhoomi way of living’. And my mind and body spontaneously knew this way of living, though my mainstream-wired brain raised its doubts once in a while. The Bhoomi team, true to their name, embrace you into the community they have built right on the outskirts of Bangalore. They accepted each of us with all our incompleteness, cluelessness and mental blocks.
Having come from the finance stream and having been an academic achiever most of my life, I was surprised when the course began with the module ‘Connecting to land, community and self’. My mainstream education and corporate jobs had left one lacunae in me – self-ignorance. I had never found the time or interest to deal with my thoughts or put in efforts to find out who am I as a person. The faculty and the group here somersaulted my understanding of concepts like perception, learning, sharing and acceptance. ‘Inner and Outer Ecology’, a week-long event that involves connecting to oneself, opened me to a whole new realm of trusting my emotions with others, opening myself to co-travellers and acceptance of my incompleteness and struggles of life. This module made me realise that until we are aware of our own self, we may not have much to offer the world!
We then moved onto other modules that introduced us to varied topics like food and health, agriculture, communications and expression, systems thinking, economics of well-being, waste and water management, eco design, social entrepreneurship and social equity and justice. In each module we were introduced to diverse topics and each of us delved into the topics as per our areas of interest. Even the methods of teaching / learning are different from the mainstream system. Here, the focus is not only on content delivery. There is scope and opportunity for immersion in the theme / topic as much as we wish to.
The best part of the course is the emergent curriculum. While there is a broad framework for the curriculum and elements of it are planned, designed and executed it does not become restrictive or close ended. The students and faculty together go with the flow of the course and allow for spaces for new emergences to occur which are then worked with by the group. The other thing that stood out for me was how each one was felt valued as an individual and felt anchored and part of the larger Bhoomi community – the interplay between the part and the whole was energising!
The modules offered opportunities for content understanding, hands on work, meeting practitioners, thinkers and activists; which not only broadened our understanding of the complex issues, but also deepened it. Meeting inspiring people like Narayan Reddy, Bharat Mansata, Devinder Sharma, Narsanna Kopulla and Piyush Manush opened many doors for further exploration and reaffirmed our faith in the path we has taken.
We also met individuals like Rajesh Thakkar, Bhargavi Rao, Niranjan Khatri, Abhishek Thakore and K. P. Singh who had opted out the mainstream system and followed their heart to do what they believed in. Listening to their stories, as well as learning about the experiences of organisations like BIOME and The Forward Foundation brought in fresh triggers to apply to oneself and work with.
Having been in the commerce stream, economics was not a new subject for me. I have closely seen the world of finance, the brutality, the greed, the never ending desire for growth and profits. But nothing had prepared me for what would stir within me when I delved deep into the economics module in Bhoomi. When I read the book ‘Churning the Earth’ by Ashish Kothari and Aseem Shrivastav and attended a discussion by Devinder Sharma, I realised how shallow and empty the present economics scenario is! I shamelessly cried when we watched the documentary ‘Nero’s Guests’ by P. Sainath in class. Slowly, I realised how blind I had been to what was happening around me and so blissfully ignorant of my own land, community and self!
The Deep Ecology module in the Sharavathi rain forest was a deeply nourishing experience. The five day long programme with the solo time and circle time gave us enough time and space to feel into the energy of diverse life all around and truly experience our belongingness in the larger Earth community…
The internship at the end of the course enables all of us to pursue our area of interest, to take our learning forward consolidate it for ourselves. Bhoomi is a learning space for all those who want to connect to the land, community and self, who wish to explore what this beautiful world offers to you. I believe it is for individuals who are willing to be integral to what they believe in and ready to own up their emotions, feelings and are fearless to stand up and say, ‘I refuse to be blissfully ignorant anymore’!
Akshatha is a student of the Science and Management in Sustainable Living course at Bhoomi College.