The Adivasi – an umbrella term for the tribal groups considered to be the aboriginal population of India – are facing powerful social and economic pressures that lead many to abandon their own language in favor of Hindi, Gujarati, or English. Adivasi Academy, based in Tejgadh, Gujarat, is working to save the many endangered languages of the linguistically diverse Indian subcontinent by seeking to show its students that their native languages and cultures are worth preserving. Learn more at Adivasi Academy’s website.
Biodiverseni (“the art of biodiversity”), is a project created by the Pejeng Village Government and Bali Lite Institute to translate the village’s ecological, historical and cultural assets into a map, art exhibit, and phone app. In the face of intense pressure to develop tourist infrastructure, these tools are helping local leaders, residents and visitors join together to preserve Pejeng’s culture – and now the local government is using the project’s data as a baseline for its development planning and budgeting. See the map here and visit the Pejeng Village Government (Indonesian language) and Bali Lite (English) websites for more information on the project.
BALE engages in a number of grassroots community localization initiatives from their home base in the White River watershed of Vermont. The overarching goal of these efforts is “to build appropriately scaled solutions from the ground up, taking back, as much as possible, our economy, our culture, and our democratic instruments by re-injecting humanity and authentic relationships into all that we do.” Projects include The Commons @ BALE (a community space open to all and used most evenings of the year), a community solar initiative, a local investment club, a documentary film series, and a Locally Grown Guide to local businesses. Learn about these projects and more at https://balevt.org.
Photo by BALE
Honey Bee Network
The Honey Bee Network is a collective of organizations that share information about appropriate technology, grassroots innovation, folklore, and medicinal plants, sourced from villages throughout India. Honey Bee travels to rural areas to seek out local people who have developed innovative human-scale solutions to everyday problems. The network publishes this collective wisdom in an online database, and publishes a quarterly newsletter in English and seven Indian languages so that contributors who do not speak English or use the internet can benefit from it. Over the past twenty years, Honey Bee has documented more than 100,000 ideas and traditional practices. Beyond disseminating knowledge, the network’s activities cultivate pride in indigenous wisdom and community self-reliance. Learn more about the network, read the newsletter, and browse the innovations and medicinal plant databases on the Honey Bee website.
Inspired by Gunter Pauli’s concept of the Blue Economy, Indonesia Biru (“Blue Indonesia”) is a video series documenting traditional local practices throughout the archipelago which put Blue Economy principles into action. Two journalists traveled by motorbike around the country for one year, creating 32 short videos that highlight examples of indigenous wisdom and locally-adapted innovation, covering alternative energy, farming practices, natural resource management, conservation and social justice issues, traditional village organization, governance practices, and more. Watch the video series and visit the Indonesia Biru website (links in Indonesian).
Photo: Paul Hessels/Flickr
MASS Design Group
MASS Design Group (MASS stands for Model of Architecture Serving Society) is a nonprofit architecture firm whose mission is to advance social justice through participatory design, recognizing that physical infrastructure plays a fundamental role in creating systemic changes in culture and economy. Designers work closely with communities to create buildings that uphold environmental stewardship, social justice, and community-defined values in a local context. MASS has designed and built health care centers, schools, and public spaces all over the world. One recent initiative is the Hudson Valley Design Lab in Poughkeepsie, New York, a community design and innovation hub that is bringing residents together to envision new opportunities for the area, including the creation of a food hall to link Hudson Valley farmers with the city. Visit the MASS Design Group website for more information on their philosophy and projects.
NEED-Burma teaches ecologically-sound farming practices to young Burmese at its model farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand – from seed saving and rice planting to mud-brick building and fungi cultivation. NEED-Burma also runs a site in Myanmar (Burma) itself called the Eco-Village Foundation (EVF), which serves as a center for community events and a model for rural resilience across the region.
We’re “more than just an NGO,” Sahaja Samrudha’s website explains. They represent a “People’s movement” to preserve traditional farming practices, conserve the rich biodiversity of India’s indigenous crop varieties, and revive and rejuvenate dying villages. They do so by facilitating the exchange of knowledge, seeds, support, and more through a network of farmers all around India – using publications, workshops, trainings, and melas (fairs or festivals) to get the word out. They’re also behind the brand “Sahaja Organics,” created to make it easier for organic producers to connect with those who want to purchase their products. To learn more, visit Sahaja Samrudha’s website, or read “Over 5000 Organic Farmers Are Reviving Traditional Crop Varieties. Thanks to One Organization.”
Photo by sandeepachetan.com travel photography (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Related Planet Local examples from other categories:
Babahan Subak Association, Indonesia (on our Planet Local: Local Food page)
Smith Island, USA (on our Planet Local: Place-based Education page)
Pejeng Village, Indonesia (on our Planet Local: Eco Communities page)